Friday, May 5, 2017

Look, I Made a Hat!

So as fabulous as my blue silk roundgown looked on its own, it was NOTHING without my fabulous hat of fabulosity.

I mean really. Look at it.

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As I was trying to figure out how to make this hat, I scoured the internet for resources on how people have made hats like this. I couldn't find any (though I found a lot of great resources that helped me with technique. Namely, this one from Dressed in Time and this one from American Duchess.) This is my first structured hat and my first hat made without a pattern. So here goes the Complete Noob Guide to a Fabulous 18th Century Hat.

I started with finding an inspirational image. I wanted something different from the typical Gainsborough style portrait hat and I knew I didn't want to do anything with straw. The dress I was making required something more formal than that. These two images served as my major inspiration.

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I love the lampshade brim and the tall crown. Plus, it seemed like something structured enough to fit the period look I was going for while being simple enough for a complete hat idiot like me. I went to Michael's Crafts and bought a bunch of poster board. Trial and error gave me a pattern that looked like this:

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The crown was way too high and skinny on the first mock up, but the second mock up was a winner!

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I had purchased buckram in anticipation of all the amazing hats I was going to make back when I first started going to costuming events *cough*circa2005*coughcough* so I didn't go with the needlepoint canvas that the tutorials I looked at recommended. Once I was happy with my pattern, I cut out two of each pattern pieces from the buckram. I also had multiple yards of green wool felt that I had purchased for a British Rifleman uniform way back in the day (I have since realized that FELT was not the right kind of fabric for that long dead project...) so I used that as well.

Now, here's a word of wisdom for anyone looking to make a hat like this. DO NOT glue your buckram layers together. My buckram was pretty thin and flimsy so I thought it would be great to use some spray adhesive to double the layers. This worked fine when the layers were flat, but once I started shaping them into a 3-dimensional hat, the buckram quickly buckled and created bubbles that even the felt couldn't hide. Were I to do it again, I would pad stitch or baste the layers together.

I sewed my shapes together and once that was done, I used floral wire from Hobby Lobby to wire the top and bottom of the crown and the edge of the brim. The wire was attached with a very thick carpet thread and was whip stitched into place.

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Now, because I like to live on the edge, I only glued the crown to the brim instead of sewing it. I figured that sewing the fashion fabric into place would be enough to hold it on. Time will tell if that was a good plan or not.

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Ugh. Look at the buckling on the the brim.

Then came felt. To attach the felt, I put down lines of Tacky Glue then smeared it around with my fingers and smoothed felt over the wet glue. I only did a small section at a time so I got everything as smooth as possible. It was messy but it worked!

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Finished felting!

I'd noticed as I was stitching wire into place, the top of the crown had gotten a bit concave. The felt didn't quite create enough padding to hide this so I put a layer of batting in between the felt and the silk that ended up covering that. It worked out okay and the hat is so tall that no one will see that it's slightly lumpy.

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This is the part where my in progress construction photos get a little sparse. I was only able to pin the batting and the silk down on the top of the crown before I had to get on a flight to go to the event at which I'd be wearing the hat!

This is what it looked like at the Dallas airport. I got a lot of questions about it from many curious passengers, gate agents, and flight attendants. Goes with the territory, I guess.

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Once at the hotel, I cut out the other silk pieces and started the process of covering the whole thing with the silk. The silk covering the brim was stitched on with running stitches at the outer edge and inner edge. The silk covering the crown was whipped to the silk on the top of the crown. I made self bias tape from the blue silk and bound the edge of the brim with it in two steps: I attached it on the inside with running stitches, flipped the tape over the wire, and then whipped the tape down to the top of the brim. It works, but I might take those stitches out in favor of less visible stitches. I probably never will - I'm nothing if not lazy.

The decorations are pinned on and consist of a wide rectangular piece of the gold silk that I wrapped around the crown, a smaller rectangular piece that I shaped into a bow, and the best feathers I could find for cheap online. The first time I put the completed hat on my head, all of the trial and error, last minute sewing, and frustration melted away.

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I learned several important things along the way.

1. Seriously, DO NOT glue buckram layers together.
2. I need to invest in some curved needles. I could have saved myself a lot of headaches.
3. I don't care how cheap you are, use silk thread for sewing on the fashion fabric.
4. Hats cannot be made without a LOT of Diet Dr. Pepper.
4. Hats aren't that scary and I might actually kind of enjoy making them!

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

1780s Roundgown and Hat O'Doom

*blows the dust off the blog*

Well folks, I'm finally emerging from my self imposed exile from the costuming world. I started grad school back in May 2014 and with that change came a whole host of other changes. Almost three years later, I have a new degree, a new job, and a new house! Needless to say, my costuming and event going has been on a three year hiatus. 

In the last three years, I've made very few costumes: a burlesque interpretation of the Winter Soldier, a regency dress, some Star Trek: TOS uniforms, and very little else. It's been three years of Greatest Hits costuming. Did I mention it's been THREE YEARS since I've made a historical costume I'm really proud of?

Until now! I present the 1780s Roundgown and Hat O'Doom!

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I love this dress and it was the perfect project to get me back into historical costuming. The fabric is a blue silk taffeta I bought on a trip to New York in September 2016 and an off-white light weight fabric of unknown origin for the ruffles. I used my trusty old 18th century pattern block for the pattern and used the same techniques I used for the Red Silk Roundgown. Overall, I'm pretty happy with it.

This is the first time I put it on my dress form.

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And sewing the skirt to the bodice.

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More finished shots:

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I'm getting a pretty gnarly wrinkle at the waist but I'm hoping that is just a result of my entirely awful stays.

The part that really tipped the outfit into fabulous territory is my coordinating hat!
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This is my first official hat that I have made - I covered a Timely Tresses bonnet back in the day and I've trimmed hats but this one is the first one I've built from buckram. I'm super proud of it and I will post a more complete write up about its construction when I take a few more pictures. It's definitely a first hat but I learned a lot that wasn't in online tutorials that I could find so I'm going to share.

Everything came together and created the exact picture I had in my head. Now that I have a bigger sewing room and easy access to my fabric and supplies, as well as a little more time to spare, I'm hoping to have more to share soon.

See my full Flickr album here.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

TBT - Faux Florentine and Faux Venetian

Another Thursday, another Throwback. As I mentioned last week, my interest in historical costuming started with the renn faire, so my early things were all renn wear. Both of these dresses were inspired by Jen Thompson of Festive Attyre, though they are pale imitations of her amazing work.

The first one is a Florentine dress of sorts made for my sister in late 2004. I thought I was all sorts of authentic, but again with the questionable construction choices. The fabric itself is 100% dead dinosaur and the guards are velvet polyester ribbon. Why? I don't even know.

Anyway, here are some in progress pictures of attaching the guards.

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These pieces were then attached to the hemp boned lining, making this dress super hot. Literally, it's very toasty to wear.

I made two sets of sleeves to be tied on, one bell shaped and one fitted. They were intended to be worn together, but I don't think my sister ever did because of the aforementioned heat issue. They were pretty cool though.

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I also made a camicia out of cheap muslin from Joanns with red embroidery at the neckline. All machine sewn because that's how I used to roll.

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Anyway, here are finished pictures of dubious quality.

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The dress by itself

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On my sister

Oh, and I made a necklace!

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Finally, in 2005, I whipped up this Venetian dress for my sister's friend so that she and my sister could attend the faire together as Italian "cousins." I made it so quickly there are no construction pictures - I literally made it in two days from discount brocade and quilting cotton purchased from Joanns. Yay?

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And the two together

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I learned a lot about fitting and construction between making the Cranach and these two gowns, but seriously, what did I have against natural fibers? Also, it took a long time to get over my bag lining thing. Anyway, happy Thursday!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The Raspberry Truffle

My eldest child started middle school today so to distract myself from feeling old, I'm posting about old fashioned clothing. It makes sense in my head. Let's round out my 1850s obsession with the Raspberry Truffle.

I don't have in-progress pictures of this dress because it was made between January 3, 2011 and January 14, 2011. I posted a question on LiveJournal about what fabric to use for this dress on the 3rd and flew out to the event on the 14th. For those of you keeping track at home, that's 11 days from idea to completion. Oh, and to complicate things, it was the end of the first semester at school so I was up to my ears in grading. I am insane.

The event was a Victoriana tea and even though I already had dresses to wear, I just had to have something new. This was my inspiration:

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I didn't really have anything in my stash to make a full dress, so I decided an early 1850s jacket and petticoat was the way to go. The jacket was a brown 100% wool suiting I had in my stash from a lucky Joanns find and was lined with a reproduction red and white cotton print. The petticoat was a length of red silk taffeta my friends had bought for me in the fabric district in 2008. The only thing I bought specifically for this project was some braided trim. Go me!

 The bodice was modified from the Laughing Moon Ladies Round Gown pattern, which I'd previously used for a cotton day dress. I added the skirts to it by extending the bodice down into triangular pieces, making a mock up, and futzing with it on my dress form. There is a vertical dart that runs close to the center front and a horizontal dart at the waist. Despite the waist dart, I still got a wacky wrinkle in the skirt. Clearly I didn't have time to fix it for the original event, but I did for Costume College 2011.

The petticoat is just three lengths of fabric pleated to a waistband. I faced the hem with white muslin, but otherwise there's nothing exciting about the petticoat at all.

Since this dress was made in such a hurry, I continued the time honored tradition of sewing at the event. Actually, I fixed some terrible cartridge pleats for Aubry of A Fractured Fairytale while she finished sewing down binding/hems on mine.

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Why is my hair always questionable? Picture from JennyLaFleur

I wore the dress over my chemisette and undersleeves from the Fringed Fabulosity.

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Sewing trim down before putting the jacket on. Again, photo from JennyLaFleur

I really do love the way this dress came together and the way it looked when my hair was corralled into something fairly decent.

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After the tea party, we went exploring in the woods. I just love this picture of the dress in action:

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And this one:

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Both photos courtesy of Aubry of A Fractured Fairytale

Monday, August 18, 2014

The Fringed Fabulosity

I have the tendency to look at costume inspiration sources and pick the most ridiculous dress imaginable to make. This is why things like The Portrait Dress and my bloomer dress exist. I love being silly in costume so when Aubry of A Fractured Fairytale found a ridiculous 1840s fashion plate, I knew I had to be the buttoned up matron to her slutty French cousin. Thus, today's post is about the Fringed Fabulosity.

The fashion plate that started it all:

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Aubry wanted the one on the left, and I was consumed with lust for the ridiculous fringed one on the right. I had to have it!

The dress is something like 8 yards of green silk taffeta with a million yards, give or take a few, of cream fringe. I bought it in bulk from Cheap Trims because of the million yards issue. The skirt is just a rectangle with 12 rows of fringe sewn on. That sucker's heavy, let me tell you.

I marked the lines the same way I did for the Striped Monstrosity, pinned it, and prayed. In two days, I went from this:

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To this:

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I swear I do clean my sewing room sometimes.

Feeling good about my life, I went on to bodice mock ups. And abruptly slammed into a brick wall of utter frustration.

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Boo! Hiss!

I don't have pictures of the final mock up, but I do know that after about five tries, I threw up my hands and moved on. That collar was the bane of my existence. I made the dang thing anyway, though you can tell by my initial try on, I was less than pleased.

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In retrospect, I really should have lined the collar with something that would give it a bit more body, but I knew nothing about tailoring and had never attempted a shawl collar. It could have been much worse, really. I finished the bodice with bias tape made from the green silk and a bunch of vintage mother-of-pearl buttons that I'd bought at Costume College the previous year.

The dress itself is worn over my corded petticoat, a three-flounced petticoat, and a single flounced petticoat. It gave a subtle bell shape, but it really could have had more umph to it. I have determined that fashion plates lied about the shape of 1840s skirts.

So yeah, I didn't make the dumb little cap thing, but I did make a new chemisette and undersleeves from a floaty cotton lawn. When I wore the whole thing put together at Costume College, I fell in love with it and decided I loved it, flaws and all. Aubry and I carried around the fashion plate and perfected the pose so we were pretty much insufferable the whole day. It was awesome!

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Photos courtesy of JennyLaFleur

A close-up of the bodice, chemisette, and my hair:

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Photo courtesy of Aubry of A Fractured Fairytale

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This dress was heavy, man. Seriously.