Monday, October 29, 2012

Steampunk Halloween!

Well this was a crazy sprint to a Halloween costume.  I used a Truly Victorian pattern to use the bottom of the pattern to make a overskirt.  I added antiqued jump rings and steampunk findings to make it interesting.

I also bought welding goggles from a welding supply shop then painted them with craft paint which really isn't the right paint but I used a matte sealer to make sure the paint doesn't paint chip off. Here some photos, the costume theme was vampiric steampunk:

The waist cincher was way too big.  I will try to rework it and add a correct from busk while cutting down a few of the side panels.  I can get quite a bit of reduction but this wasn't going to do it for me.
Here are the finished goggles, below is exactly what they looked like new:

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Steampunk Halloween in 2.5 days - Arrrrgh....

I finished the corselet and am annoyed beyond belief.  This really wasn't the end all be all but I did want to do some pretty serious waist reduction.  Given the sizing on the pattern this should have been 4" smaller than my waist.  When I cut the muslin it was HUGE! (see prev post).  I then took a ton off the the edges and it still ended up being too big.  I can lace all the way closed (see partially closed back pic).  I am telling myself it is just a Halloween costume, but I'm disappointed because I know the look I wanted was easily achievable but didn't happen.....grrr....

I used a front flap because I used hooks and eyes and not a real corset busk.  I didn't have time to get one because I wasn't planning to sew and this was "just" a Halloween costume.  I will order a real busk and probably rework this so I can get a more reduction from it.

Construction note:  this project required the teflon foot and leather needles which made everything work beautifully.  However when I went to set the corset grommets the punch I use to prepunch holes didn't like the fabric at all and kept jamming and sticking.  Thankfully I got my trusty awl out and that helped.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Steampunk Halloween - in 5 Days: PART I

A friend has enticed me out to play the weekend before Halloween.  The Bay area has a lot of fun dress up parties, and San Francisco becomes one big costume party regardless of what party you are going to.

So how do I do something new in less than a week.  I started by trying to dye a thrift store steampunk shirt.  It was one of those great super-cheap super-perfect tops.  It also fit without having to tailor it.

I washed and dried it then sank it into a strong tea bath.  The white turned a nice ivory, the blue/black stripes really didn't change....and the "oh geez" moment came when I realized that the unseen discolouration in the armpit areas took the tea more than anywhere I had tea-armpit stains.  It only got worse when I tried to bleach the shirt out.  Apparently there was a pair of pink yoga pants in the wash unbeknownst  to me.  I could do nothing except watch the pink tinged water slosh around.

In the end I picked up a bag of terracota-brown dye which worked perfectly.  I then added some metal look buttons (sorry for the crummy photos)....and presto! for $6 I have a perfect steampunk shirt....

Of course I can't stop with just a thrift store shirt.  I needed a corselet -- so I thought I'd sew one.  An easy peasy one from Simplicity's steampunk line.  I picked up some .99cent patterns and thought it would be a good base, boy was I wrong.  I'm not sure why but I cut the pattern based on the "after tightening" measurement and it came out way way too big.  You can seen the pattern piece below (this includes the seam allowance) and the pink marker where the new seam lines are:

So what I thought would be a no-brainer project turned into a couple of hours of fitting, mocking up, and fitting again.  I am also short waisted so I had to take that into account as well.

I used pleather to get what I hoped would be a cool steampunk look.  Of course I didn't have the appropriate busk laying around so I fiddled up a closure with hook and eye tape, and maybe at some other point I'll add a real corset closure.  It just needs to get me through the weekend festivities.

The most important new thing I had was a teflon sewing foot (bargain on ebay) this allowed me to sew the pleather easily, something I didn't have when I made a costume a few years ago and vowed never to sew with the stuff again.
Since the stuff shows pin marks I also used painters tape to help mark and hold things on while I was sewing, and totally cheated, since this was a bargain last minute project, I used my handy dandy industrial zip ties for boning.  I'm not done with the project but should be in a day or two then I will post a final product.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Sewer's Block....ugh...

I cannot! I will not! No!..There is nothing left in me...

Has this ever happened to you? I think that I am deeply in the throws of it...sewers block.  I believe it began with the  Evil Yellow Dress Project....I was....hmm....just not that inspired.

I am sewing at the moment, but I'm not SEWING.  From time to time I am asked to do children's costumes.  I'm working on a Brave dress.  It is easy, boring yet time consuming.  I was inspired by the book dress, and now I'm not.  Halloween is coming up and my general belief is that it should be a national holiday.  We should have the day off to prepare our costumes and the following day to recover from our reveling.  This year I have made nothing novel, and am staring at various fabrics and patterns completely unmotivated.  Nothing in the costume closet sparks enough enthusiasm to even purchase a Halloween event ticket.  Bla!

How do I get my mojo back?  Any suggestions?

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Soiled Doves or Victorian Show Girls -- a Little of Both? What do you think?

This was the final score in my little thrift boutique treasure hunt.  This is the first cabinet card of this kind that I have ever owned.  Everyone else is always so proper in their photos.

I looked up the studio but couldn't find any reference to it.  The address in San Francisco is now the International Art Museum of America, but the original building at that address was destroyed in the SF 1906 and rebuilt in 1907 but then redone agai.

Who are these women with ankles and striped stockings showing?  Matching polished cotton petticoats, with fancy shirtwaists that are a little sheer.  They look to be wearing corsets, have pompoms around the bottom of their vests, and coins sewn onto the collar of their shirts.  They have their hair out.  And it is making me crazy that I can't tell what the standing one is holding in her left hand.

I'm thinking they are some sort of stage act, and I can't quite pin down the year, although I'd say it was maybe mid 1880s if I were to guess.  What do you think?

Oh What a Haul!

Ok, it is only a tiny haul but I'm so excited to share.  I will post photos later but I found some wonderful bits on Saturday.  I had a few rare hours alone to run some errands and thought I'd stop off at an annual pumpkin boutique put on by one of the local thrift shops.

I was disappointed as I walked around as many things were antique store priced.  I did find a few interesting and very inexpensive bits randomly as I walked (and dug) through bins.  Then as I walked around with my treasures I heard an announcement that it was now 1/2 price time! Whoo hoo! I was able to find three great photos, one early 1870s or maybe late 1860s of a great gown, a postcard from San Francisco of what I figure are "professional" women or stage actresses/chorus girls from the 1880s, and a fab early 1860s head shot of a woman with a hat that turned out to not be a paper photo but possibly a tin type.  I also was able to get a wonderful petticoat that is in great condition for about the price of a venti latte, and two (what I believe to be) 1860s fashion prints professionally framed from a shop in Oakland (according to the stickers on the back). Photos soon....I promise.

Update 10/14:

 Here are the two fashion plates.  Unfortunately, when they were framed the dates were covered up.  Since they were professionally framed in Oakland before 1960, I am not going to take them apart at this point to see the dates - safely assume 1860s.  The shop that framed them is no longer in existence but the family who owned the shop was heavily into the arts/antiques/galleries from what I can tell via Google searches.

 Then this photo which is on paper glued to a large oval which has a nondescript photo of a little boy on the other side, was another super bargain bin find.  There is writing in pencil that says" Mrs. J.M. Miller....something I can't read....and 65.   1865 would be fairly correct if one was looking at her clothing:

My latte priced petticoat is really interesting.  I was tickled that there are no holes or stains, and the four glass buttons are probably original, however, it has so many alterations to it I can hardly tell what is going on.  It was shortened by adding a tuck in two places, then above the eyelet there is another band of fabric basted on, but what is really interesting to me is the opening.  None of my other antique petticoats button in the front.  It looks like the petticoat was adjusted to fit over a rump pad or even a small bustle.  there is a dart in the center back that was put in as well as a horizontal tuck mid tush, with small gathers right below it.  I just am puzzled about this....what do you think?

Tintype beauty -- I was so thrilled, when I took this out of the baggie it was in I discovered it was a tintype!  Sadly the paper jacket is torn and stuck to the tintype as well.  The picture is so clear, and she is so beautiful -- dark hair, light eyes, and an amazingly fab hat.  It was the hat that caught my attention.  However, when I photographed the tintype I realized her bodice had such wonderful embroidery on added bonus.  The large hoop earring is also something that we might not think as fashionable, but this beautiful woman was fabulously put together!