tisdag 21 april 2015

Tudor gown - Lessons learned since 2007

When looking through old photograps on my computer, I found pictures of my first ambitious historical costume - a Tudor gown. It took a long time to make, but was made 2005-2007, and worn for a medieval fair. I was very proud of it then, but ended up taking it apart, as the sleeves was too tight - I could barely raise my arm high enough to be able to eat...

When looking at it now, I can see two things that would have made it look much better: a petticoat and some trim. A petticoat would have hidden the rings of the stiffening in the farthingale, that is now very visible through the skirt. A simple petticoat between fathingale and skirt would probably have improved the look a lot with only a small sewing effort. The second thing, trimming, would probably have been slightly more time consuming. However, a noblewoman's gown without trim is just not looking right.

That can be seen from the fact that the two parts I still do like with this gown is the sleeves and the hat. These two are the parts where I made an extra effort with the details. The sleeves have embroidered cuffs, and the hat is beaded and made from a proper pattern. (The rest of the gown was drafted by me from some instructions on internet, since the only pattern I knew of then was the Margo Anderson pattern package, and I thought that was too much money.)

Looking at this dress, I also am very grateful for the massive amount of information that can nowadays be found on the internet. When I made this dress, I had found one website with costuming instructions and a few other with period portraits, so it was not that much to base a costume on. It was also not an option to purchase stuff like boning on the net: the farthingale is stiffened with the long thin coiled metal band that is used to fix the problem when the plumbing is backed up. The staff in the hardware store looked quite curious when I, a 18 year old girl, asked if they could find me more than two of these...

In summary, I learned four things, and afterwards some of them feel quite obvious:
  • While a historical costume might (and probably will) be impractical, you need to be able to move your arms in it
  • Never try to save time by skipping the petticoat
  • Some types of gown just needs trimming
  • A good hat or hairdo can increase the overall impression a lot (something I also learned later on, when I wore the same regency gown to a ball two years in row, the first time with almost no hairdo, the second time with the proper curls.)

söndag 5 april 2015

Shear Madness costuming award

A few months ago, I found the costuming group Shear Madness. The group does many different types of costuming, such as cosplay, historical and steampunk. Every quarter there is a costuming challenge with a specific theme. This time, the theme was "Twisted Historicals", and since I seems to be fond of showing off when in costume, I entered my female 1886 uniform. And -  I got the Judges’ Choice Award for “Technical Merit and Overall Look”! I am very happy, and most honored to win an award when everyone who entered is so talented costumers. I also learned a new word that applies to this type of costume:crossplay - when you base your costume on something but changes the gender.

torsdag 2 april 2015

Two versions of military inspiration costume

Inspired by the upcoming "War and Peace" challenge of Historical Sew Monthly, I decided to make another version of my Steampunk Victorian women's uniform. I wanted a version that was just military inspired, not really a uniform, so that I could wear it for historical events as well. I wanted to make some accesoars so that by choosing hat and over skirt, I could wear the dress both as (kind of) historical fashion, and as a steampunk uniform.

As steampunk uniform...

... and as fashion dress
The first part to "demilitarize" it of course was to remove the epaulettes. They can easily be basted back on. After that, I needed to make a hat to wear instead of the military cap. The hat has its own blog post here.

I then decided to remake the striped asymetrical overskirt, to go better with this dress. I was not so happy with how it had turned out anyway. First, I redid the back part of it. Before, it had like eigth bornouse pleats, but that turned out to be a bit to messy and uncontrolled, they just collapsed in a heap. I removed two of them, and sewed down the remaing six parwise and basted them to the skirt under, so that they would lie as I wanted. This is the back, before and after. When I was at it, I also added a cotton velvet band to the inside of the hem of the under skirt, to give it some more volume and protect the hem (the wool is very thin so it does not wear so well.) To really get that 1886 "shelf bustle" effect, I added a small cushion on top of my ordinary bustle. (Yes, a real cushion. I borrowed a small travel cushion I made for my husband some years ago for a hiking trip.)
Overskirt before...

... and after remake
I then added some red details to the over-skirt, to match the piping on the bodice. On one side, I was inspired by pictures like this,

"Freja- illustrerad skandinavisk modetidning 1888, illustration nr 9"from Wikimedian Commons
 and added "tabs" that are the same shape and fabrice as the epaulettes on the bodice was (a blink to the uniform that inspired it all). I also added a pleated part to the other side of the skirt.

More pictures: 

With my father at historical "fika"

And the facts for HSM:

What the item is: Modifying a steampunk victorian oufit to an that is merely military inspired fashion. Mainly the work involved was to make a hat, and modifying an overskirt to go with this bodice.

The Challenge: #4 "War and Peace".

Fabric: Buckram, fleece (from an old IKEA blanket...) and wool for the hat. Small scraps of red wool and a piece of a very synthetic looks-a-little-bit-like-silk fabric for the skirt.

Pattern: Truly Victorian TV550 for the hat.

Year: 1886

Notions: Some synthetic cold cording for the embroidery on the tabs on skirt. For the hat: Two different types of wires from my jewelry making box, cotton velvet band, and a feather and paper flowers cannibalized from another hat.

How historically accurate is it? Decent. The main look is rigth, the materials are what I had at home. It might be a bit too military looking maybe, with the silver bands on the collar. Also, piping seems not to have been popular during this years even if it was very common in the earlier decades.

Hours to complete: 5-8 h for the hat, maybe 5 h more for the rest (making the tabs took some time).

First worn: for a historical "fika" (drinking coffe and eating sweets) in Gamla Linköping the 15th of March.

Total cost: 60 kr (about 10$ ) for the velvet band for skirt and hat, everything else was left-overs from other projects.

Why is is War and Peace? It fits the challenge in three ways, I think. The first is the most obvious one: a dress very inspired by an specific military uniform. The second one: I did a remake of an earlier garment and made a hat, thus updating an entire outfit with small means. I think that in hard times, people would be remaking and reusing things even more than they would otherwise. Third way: Peace! If I was not living in a part of the world that is rich and peaceful, I would probably not be able to spend time and money on something that is purely for fun.