Tuesday, February 21, 2012

1930's Dress Update and Random Stuff.

I've made some progress on the1930's tea gown.

The mock up is finished and has been sent off to the customer.

Dress bodice front...
...and back.

The whole mockup sans sleeves ( please disregard the sewing room mess)!

And the back view, it is kinda tight around the butt...

She tried it on and gave me the green light to go ahead with only the request that I add some more fullness to the back skirt. Which should not be a problem.  Originally the skirt had these strange horizontal gathers that made the derriere look like a drapery treatment. I drafted those out but it seems it made the skirt to narrow for the customers liking. But that's an easy fix i will just add some gathers to the back panel to give it more ease and some nice drape.
So now I could start work on the dress in the actual fashion fabric the customer selected, but due to my costuming ADD this is what i did today instead......

I embroidered some scrap silk material to be turned into a reticule. Will probably try to sell this one. Reticules always sell well......
Also as of today it is official that my friend Stephanie and I will be be vendors at Jane Fest in July and I discovered my logo is up with a link to my website on the Dress U vendor page. http://dressu2012.com/Vendors.htm 

Now all this seems so much more real, I really have to stop slacking and start making stuff for Dress U and Jane fest. I need new costumes for myself and stock for the store. Also a friend asked me to make her a little organza bolereo jacket to go with her wedding gown .

Really I should sew like the wind..... but of course I'm a lazy costumer, so we will see about that!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Working with Graphed Patterns. 1805 Empire Stays.

I have severe costuming ADD which means I usually get bored with one project really fast and end up working on several things at the same time. So instead of being a good girl and working on the commission  for 1930's tea dress, I have started messing with some regency long stays. As I mentioned in an earlier post I have been planning to make a corset from Jean Hunnisette's book Period Costume for Stage and Screen.

Great book for any costumer!

This lovely book has a whole host of graphed patterns you can scale up and use as a base pattern for yourself or when sewing for others.
The pattern I chose to try my hand at yesterday is a ca. 1805-1810 pair of  corded long stays.

Pretty Empire stays with cording. I probably won't cord them just do some quilting.

For those unfamiliar with graphed patterns, they are in theory quite easy. the pattern pieces are printed on a grid in smaller scale in a book or other publication and can be enlarged to true size by using the squares of the grid for reference. the grid usually has a scale of  1 square to the inch or something similar, European publications will have 1 square to the centimeter....

bad picture of the graphed pattern I scaled up.

Which brings me to the first problem I ran into while trying to enlarge this pattern. It was in centimeters not inches, I did not realize this beforehand! Which of course is stupid of me, because i knew that Jean Hunnisette to be British and the Brits use the metric system! Duh! In my infinite wisdom I had assumed the patterns in this book to be on a 1 inch grid not a 1 centimeter grid . I had gone out and bought ghost line poster boards with a pre drawn one inch grid on them, I thought I was being so smart buying the poster board so I would not have to draw my own grid...
 See I suck at drawing straight lines. When i try to draw my own grid it get's all crooked making it useless for drafting. So I figured if I bought paper with pre drawn 1 inch squares on it I would avoid this problem. HA!
 I gathered all my drafting materials, and ready to tackle my task opened the book with confidence to discover that the scale is in metric! Crap!
First I tried  to just convert the measurements to inches, but it turns out a one inch grid was just to big to correctly convert something from a 1 cm grid. Then I figured if I just drew it on the one inch grid it would work cause I was going to hve to enlarge it anyway since I'm bigger than the original pattern anyway. Yeah, that did not work so well either... I really only need it to be bigger width wise not length wise, and the pattern turned out way way to long length wise, more like a mini dress than a corset....

the first attempt turned out a bit elongated...

 Then I tried to draw a metric grid, as mentioned above I suck at this and it turned out all crooked....
I had almost given up and decided to just break down and buy a commercially made pattern when I realized than my cousin who had visited from Germany 2 years ago left behind a blank notebook, with a 1 cm grid on all pages ( for some reason in Germany notebooks come with grids not lines.... no idea why but I'm so glad they do! ) Bingo!

The German notebook that saved my butt!

I went to my so called office ,which really is now princess Charlotte's play room but still holds the leftovers of a once organized home office space, and dug up the  note book! I taped a bunch of the pages together and voila metric drafting paper!
Once I had the correct size grid to work scaling the pattern up was pretty easy.

First draft of the corset pattern.

It's all cut out now and waiting to be enlarged to my size. But knowing myself I will do something completely different costuming wise before coming back to that...

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The Awesomeness of Sarees

I'm always trying to costume on the cheap, cause as a stay at home costumer married to a grad student money is  tight. Unfortunately I have expensive taste, and want to be as historically accurate as possible (none of that faux silk from Joanns for me!). These 2 things do not go together well. fortunately I am a master of finding random crap on ebay to use for my costuming needs. I will leave my love of ebay for another post, today will be all about the awesomeness of Indian sarees, the traditional dress of Indian women.

 I have been buying sarees off ebay to make into anything form edwardian evening gowns to reticules. Now making regency gowns form sarees is nothing new, a bunch of costumers  have made amazing regency gowns from sarees . I  always admired the bright bold and beautiful gowns others had, but always assumed that the material must be expensive. However it tuns out that while some sarees are indeed expensive you can buy pure silk sarees for next to nothing,  if you know where to look. You see I found this seller on ebay that is AWESOME!
This place sells vintage silk sarees that may or may not have some flaws like stains and tears, perfect for cutting up! Most of their auctions start at .99 cents plus $7.99 shipping and $5.99 shipping for any additional sarees.  This summer I got 6 for under $50 including shipping all the way from India! The seller states on ebay that these sarees are used and have flaws so i was not expecting these delightful creations that arrived in the mail!

The package of sarees came in a hand sewn fabric bag all the way from India!

out of the 6 sarees i bought only 3 had any flaws 3 are in pristine condition! Though they where a bit smelly, something that can easily be remedied with cold water and shampoo, yes shampoo you can hand wash silk with shampoo!  All of my sarees are just gorgeous, soft subtle silk , some hand block printed others hand  embroidered, and interwoven with gold thread.

Blue purple and white hand block printed silk.

Red and Yellow silk with a woven in pattern.

All are about 4 yards long, at less than $10 a saree that is less than $3 a yard! You can't even buy polyester costume satin for that, never mind silk, and nice silk at that, not that dupioni crap! My latest saree purchase is this lovely magenta colored piece. I had been looking for some magenta colored silk for the under gown of  that 1912 evening gown I plan to make for Dress U.

1912 dress I plan to make for Dress U

But  I could not find any silk I could afford. Sorry just can't drop $15 a yard on fabric for a costume that I will most likely only wear once. So I went back to my favorite ebay saree seller and snatched up this lovely beauty for $22.

Magenta silk saree I plan to use for the under dress of the 1912 gown

Hand embroidered green silk saree for the overdress

I got 5 yards of magnificent magenta silk with a stunning golden woven border! And cause it's so pretty and I don't need all 5 yards just for the under gown I think I'll  also use some of this sari silk to make a nice little sleeveless spencer to go over my little white regency dress to wear at Jane Fest (got inspired to make one over at Natalie's Blog http://zipzipinkspot.blogspot.com/ )!

Short sleeved spencer. they did exist!
 Unless I find a pretty peacock blue saree to use for the spencer that is! I think this year will be the year of the saree costume, actually I'm pretty sure I will never buy silk at the fabric store again!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

The Evil 1930's Dress!!!

So I finally forced myself to start work on the 1930's tea dress.

deceiving simplicity

 And as expected it's not going so well. I had a bad feeling as soon as I looked at the pattern the customer had brought me. At first it looks rather straight forward but then it turns out it's full of darts and bias cut fabric and what not.
The dress put up a fight before I ever got around to actual construction. The pattern itself is totally messed up. First the sizing was all skewed. The measurements I had taken off my client called for a size 22 according to the size and yardage chart on the pattern, when in reality she's more of a 14. Now I am aware that pattern sizes and dress sizes are not the same, but I measured the actual pattern pieces and I was rigth the size would have been way to big.. So I chose the correct size according to the measurements I had and the measurement of the actual pattern and then I traced the pattern onto a shower curtain.

Yes a shower curtain! The flimsy kind form the dollar store is great for patterns they are thin enough that they are semi trasparent for easy tracing, but much sturdier than tissue paper, they handle a lot like fabric so you can pin, pleat and manipulate and best of all  they are cheap!  After tracing and cutting out the shower curtain pattern I discovered that the skirt part was much larger than the bodice part it is supposed to attach to. Oh fun. I hate it when patterns are faulty and don't match up correctly, I mean I get patterns because I don't want the hassle of having to draft them myself so when I have to re draft a purchased pattern it defeats the purpose...

Re drafted shower curtain pattern

 But i had some re drafting to do as was so it was just some more changes on top what i had already planed to do. The original skirt back had 3 pieces, the middle piece had this weird ruched thing going on, all topped off by a big bow right on the derriere. Now what woman wants a rushed butt with a bow on it ( well other than a 1980's bride) ? I mean even in the 1930's that may not have been the most figure flattering thing. Not surprisingly the customer requested I  remove the rushing and the bow.

See the ruched butt part? Not really attractive...
 So I drafted out the rushed middle piece and now the skirt back is just one piece, much better and more flattering than the ruffle butt look. Next I got some fantastically  ugly polyester fabric from the stash (got a whole 5 yard bolt  of it from Wal Mart for $3 a while ago) and cut out a mock up. The skirt was cut on the bias fold.I haven't done much work with fabric cut on the bias so I'll see how this skirt works out... 

Super ugly green floral polyester fabric!

And that's where I am now with this project. Next I need to transfer the pattern markings for all those lovely tucks and pleats and darts on the bodice and then I'll put it together, hopefully it will all go smoothly but I know better than that!