The Final Products

Uncategorized

I suppose it’s only fitting that I got around to writing this post after (finally) adding those last two snaps onto my 40s dress and extracting the two pins I had unknowingly sewn into the cuff of Ben’s jacket. It’s about time as well – just about a month since the exhibition!

So without any further ado, here are the photos of my finished costumes from the shoot:

I’m a little disappointed with how the Liberty silk looks on camera – a bit washed out and murky. But hey ho – that’s something to consider for future projects.

And then, the exhibition! This is what my space looked like:

You can just about see my (nearly) finished tutu at the back.

The exhibition was a success – I had 50 business cards at the start and 25 at the end, which I think is a good sign. Had a few CVs picked up as well, so we’ll see what happens next.

So, what exactly have I been doing for the last four weeks, you wonder? Dressing at the opera, of course! Also sending a lot of emails, working at Eureka!, and catching up on sleep. Though it’s going to get busy again soon – in November I start a three-week work placement at the Library Theatre in Manchester, working on the Wind in the Willows. Stay tuned!

Zigazig-AARGH

Uncategorized

Having to be productive on a Bank Holiday Monday while the rest of the country takes a day off generally makes for a relaxed attitude toward whatever it is one is meant to be doing. Combine that with having only gotten six hours of sleep, and the approach becomes positively lethargic. I did feel a bit perkier after my twenty-minute lunchtime nap, but even so, I could have accomplished a lot more today.

Today we started on the bodice, and it was slow going. Period bodices involve lots of curved seams that just don’t want to ease in nicely, no matter how much you coax them. And, along with all the usual faff, we had the added bonus of zig-zagging, in scalloped shapes as necessary, each and every seam allowance. I don’t like zig-zagging to start with; somehow I can never quite get right on the edge of the fabric like you’re supposed to. But zig-zagging in a scalloped shape? That is a whole new kettle of fish. Let’s just say I ended up with some “special” scallops…

Not my best work.

Oh, and then there was the forty-five minutes I spent on about two inches of a seam to create one of my pleats at the center back. It’s one of those awkward things where you have to stitch two bits together right up to a specific point, and then carry on from that exact point with one of the original bits and then a new bit. It’s a similar thing to what got me that day with the jacket – pleats and corners are just not my strong suit.

Here’s another photo of the inside, just for kicks:

eventually this will look nice

So then at the end of the day I put it on the form, and you know what? Somehow it doesn’t look as good as I thought it would. I have no idea what I was expecting, especially as this is what I had planned for all along.

ehh.

I currently have three fabric options for the pin-tucked/bloused out panel that’s going into the center front (which I went over budget to get), and do you know what? I think I am going to scrap all of them and use the striped taffeta instead, to better combine the two halves. I’m also going to cut some bias strips of the stripe and pipe around the hem, and what the heck, I’ll add a stripey detail at the cuffs too. I think.

So that’s that. We’re staying late tomorrow night and Thursday night, so that should help make up for today’s lethargy. The game plan for tomorrow is to finish finishing the seams (i.e. zig-zagging and scalloping three more bits), cut out some facing, make some piping, hide the mess and hem it all up nice, and make up the sleeves. I actually don’t know if I am capable of all of that in one day – it all sounds simple enough, but then it’s always the simple things that take ages for apparently no reason. We can but try.

Here’s hoping for sleeves by tomorrow night!

Getting There

Uncategorized

I don’t really know where to start. Maybe with my calico fitting?

half dressed

bodice

We could also call this episode, “In Which We Discover a 23-inch Waist Is Only Possible for Ten Minutes, After Which Fainting Becomes Increasingly Probable.”

True, breathing was difficult, but for the first few minutes I thought I was just about managing to get enough oxygen. Then I told Pauline that my hands were tingling and was that normal, and she said no, that’s normal, do you need to sit down? And I said no I’m fine, so she carried on pinning and prodding until finally I said actually we need to take all this mess off and loosen the corset before I collapse, thanks very much.

Fortunately, everything still fit after letting the corset out to 24-and-a-half inches at the waist. Everything, that is, except the petticoat, which suddenly as it turns out needs the waistband taking off and the front pleats letting out. Le sigh.

So that was a few Fridays ago, and then the following Sunday it was off to London for fabric shopping. Goldhawk Road in Shepherd’s Bush, with its dozen fabric shops all up and down two blocks, is like a microcosm of LA’s garment district. It’s funny how one place can seem so like another despite their being 6,000 miles apart – I’d never been to Goldhawk Road before, but it felt familiar. It was nice.

We got back from London late on the Tuesday night, so Wednesday was a leisurely catch-up day which, for me, meant one thing: BUTTONS.

the finished product

More on that later.

Thursday that week was spent cutting out all the fabric, which was only a small nightmare when it came to the striped taffeta for my apron and bustle drape. I made the mistake of marking up my bodice fabric, because I had completely forgotten that we’re flat-lining all of it which meant I had marked up cotton. Oh well – I’m hoping once it’s all together you won’t notice the faint blue marks showing through. As we had staggered cutting out times and my slot had been Thursday, I had Friday off. I had taken home my combinations and breeches to finish off, so now those are done too! Huzzah!

And then Monday came (again, far more difficult after having two days in a row to sleep in), and it was time to make up the skirt. I thought it’d be an easy task since I didn’t have to make a new skirt – I just had to do the hem and put a placket on the calico skirt I wore for my fitting. Calico is fine, you see, because there’s a separate pleated panel going over it in the proper dress fabric – and there’s the rub.

Reasons Why Making a Pleated Over-Skirt Sucks
1. Having to handle ten meters of fabric at a time: five of the lining, five of the proper fabric
2. Having to flat-tack, by hand, five meters of fabric
3. Having to mark pleat lines down all five meters
4. Having to hem five meters
5. Having to pleat up five meters
6. Having to pin pleated panel accordingly and watch as all the pleats fall out

I’d say of all of those, #5 is the worst. I couldn’t press the pleats on the ironing board because the weight of the fabric just kept pulling the pleats flat. In the end, I moved the ironing board next to my side of the table, got an extension cord for the iron, and was on my hands and knees on the table top pressing my pleats. Sadly there are no photographs of the process, but here is the result:

Two days, right there.

Which the next day became this:

now we’re getting somewhere

Which the next day became this:

striped apron

And finally, this!

apron and bustle drape

I’m especially pleased with how symmetrical I managed to get the bustle-y bit at the back:

ahh, symmetry

Excuse me while I pat myself on the back.

Next week, the bodice. Bring it.

…And coming soon: My Own Mr. Darcy, Part 2!

Bustle, Bodice, & Buttons

Uncategorized

There’s nothing more debilitating than having a few days off. Going back to York on Monday, I had the same groggy feeling I get when I wake up exhausted after finally getting the sleep I thought I needed. I spent the whole day in a dozy fog that I couldn’t seem to snap out of. Fortunately it was a day spent drafting patterns for my bustle dress, so it wasn’t too demanding and I managed to not fall behind. Good start.

So, that was Monday. I spent all day Tuesday cutting out and making up the skirt and drape, and all day today draping the bodice. Here are the fruits of my labor:

foundation skirt

bustle apron back view

bustle apron front view

bustle apron and drape

draping on the stand

finalized bodice drape

So after I got to that stage at about 4.30 this afternoon, it was a mad rush to get the proper toile pieces all cut and sewn together. The goal was to be finished by 6; I left at 7.20. I think I made damn good time considering I am generally quite pernickity and slow when it comes to sewing, and these are all awkward curved seams.

Tomorrow it’s sleeves and decoration samples (in my case, a whole lot of box-pleating), and then it’s fittings on Friday!

And oh yes, I chose some buttons for my menswear! …Which, as it turns out, I only photographed with my phone and not my actual camera which means you’ll all see them later. But trust me, they are nice. We’re staying late tomorrow night so those of us who need to (i.e. me) can catch up on our buttons. Finally, I might be getting somewhere!