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Hmm… so, the problem is that I’m a bit behind schedule on my three projects: the PoP: Tamina costume for the Historical Costume Inspiration Festival; my Birthday Masquerade outfit (AKA, Lady Luck Pierrot outfit); and a waistcoat for my young man (for work and for his steampunk outfit for my Birthday Masquerade Party).

  • Prince of Persia: Tamina – I’ve done a quick mock-up of the harem pants in natural muslin (that is, the English definition – I think Americans call it muslin gauze?).  They are very sheer, so I’m glad I’m going for the long-length tunic over the top, otherwise I’d be a bit of a flasher!  I have gone for a very baggy leg because the fabric is so sheer and drapey, which seem to work well, especially as I’ve also decided to pleat the excess fabric rather than gather it.  More on that another time. Still to do – er, pretty much everything?  I might have to go for just the tunic and harem pants in time for the festival, and leave the cropped waistcoat for another time.  Deadline – beginning of October.

  • Birthday Masquerade outfit – I’m still working on these damned stays, but they are an integral part of the costume (and any other 18th century costume I want to make in future), so they need doing.  However, I am currently trimming down the fray allowance and applying fray-check to the edges, so after today the stays will be in a wearable state, even if they’re not quite finished yet (no bias binding).  Still to do – again, almost everything!!  A pierrot jacket, a few petticoats, a sash and a mask.  I had hoped to make a cool hat and a fan, but these accessories might have to wait until a later date.  I have most of the fabrics (just need some cheap white sheets/fabric for the under petticoats).  Deadline – 24th November.

  • A Modern Waistcoat for an Architect-In-Training – we have the fabric (including a rather fun tartan lining, which was free from a friend!) and I’ve traced an existing waistcoat to use as a basis for sizing; his lordship has sketched what he wants (it’s a bit complicated!) and we’ve worked out the construction.  To do – tonight I should be pinning a mock-up to him so we can finalise the pattern; then it all needs making (still – argh!).  Deadline – 24th November.

As you can see, I’ve cut down on some accessories I had planned, so I’m going to try to continue with what I’ve outlined above.  But (isn’t there always a but?), if I get any further behind schedule, I might have to put Tamina on hold and use what I’ve done of my Birthday Masquerade outfit for the festival.

So, I’m afraid blog posts might be a bit thin on the ground as I’m so busy at the moment and I also have some work-related news to share with you in the near future (but more on that later), which means more busy times – goodness!

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Yep, that’s right – all those pesky little hand-sewn eyelets are done and the straps are attached:

Though they started off a little shaky:

The bottom one that you can’t see very well was my first effort – it’s probably just as well it’s not very clear on the photo as it looks awful!!  I tried out a few different techniques: pushing the hole from the outside from the inside, overcasting or using buttonhole stitch, and stitching from the inside or the outside.  I found the best results came from: pushing from the inside to the outside (first with an awl, then with a wider knitting needle); I drew a circle around the hole; I used buttonhole stitch, pushing the needle from the outside and following the drawn circle.  After a couple of practice ones, they came out much better:

But before I could do the eyelets, I realised that I needed something to go behind them, since I’m attaching the lining after doing the binding.  So, I cut a couple of strips on the bias from the lining fabric (purely on the bias because of looks, I have to say!) and hand-stitched them over the folded over section of outer fabric.  Sorry, not very clearly explained, but here’s a photo:

So when the two sides come together, the stripes form a kind of chevron pattern:

So that’s the progress so far, all that’s left is stitching the ends of the last few boning channels, trimming down the seam allowance and then the evils of bias-binding attachment.  Even so, I think the finish line is in sight!

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I can’t believe I forgot to blog about this when I first saw it – clearly I had a lobotmy that week – so here it is now and my gushing about how much I love it:

Yep, I said it – I don’t mean her (nothing against Lily Cole, it’s just not her I’m in love with), I mean her costume in this scene of The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, specifically the pair of stays she is wearing.  Annoyingly, there are very few pictures around of the outfit:

Really, these pictures do the stays no justice – they’ve got this fabulous flowery/fruity thing going on and would make a great fae/goddess/woodland spirit type costume, or go for grapes and get ready for Bacchanalia!

Either way, I love the stays and want them.  I think I’m going to have to buy the DVD and get some screen captures.  The whole outfit is a nod to the 18th century, with that hair and the shift and the pantaloons she’s wearing could either be a Victorian lady’s bloomers or a 17th or 18th century gent’s breeches fancified.

If you haven’t seen the film, do have a looksee: it’s a lot of fun and if you don’t enjoy it, then you at least get to see these stays as they’re right at the beginning!

And yes, it says ‘part I’ up there – I think I’m going to give some film costume love every once in a while, so look out for more as and when the whim strikes me!

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What a weekend!

Friday – I got home from work to this yumminess:

(They’re a bit creased as I’ve hand-washed them, but haven’t ironed yet.)

The photos really don’t do these fabrics justice.  I’ll confess, I’ve been too busy to do a burn test, but from the feel of the fraying threads on the cut ends and the way they hold colour (so luminous), I am sure they’re silk.  If not, they’re bloody good synthetics.  To call the darker one navy is to do it a great disservice: it’s far richer in colour than navy normally is – it’s more of an indigo.

And I was right about the lighter blue – it’s not electric blue, instead it’s an absolutely amazing cerulean blue shot with a lighter violet, which makes it seem almost ultra-violet when it shimmers and catches the light.  Even better, the two sides of the fabric are quite different – one seems a mid almost-turquoise shot with purple and the other is a light greyish-blue with the violet sheen.  I seem to recall that the edges of the polonaise-style jacket (up to the trim line) are a green facing, which is making me think of using the opposite side of the fabric for the edges and using a purple trim (perhaps purple velvet ribbon).  I suspect I’ve not explained that very well – I’ll put together a diagram at some point!

Polonaise style jacket from the Cut of Women's Clothes

Which leaves the question – mostly light with the darker side on the edges, or mostly dark with the lighter?  Decisions, decisions!

Saturday – went to the library, got the Beginners Crewel Embroidery book, another introductory embroidery book and this little haul:

I’m thinking calico pockets embroidered with green leaves and twisty stems and blue and purple flowers with yellow stamens.  Unfortunately they didn’t have crewel thread, so I had to get regular stranded cotton, but I figure this will be good to practice with and when I have a bit more money I can order some (probably from Sewandso.co.uk as recommended by Rosel).  Oh, and the ribbons are for cockades (as per the good Duchess’s tutorial plus a couple of other (less good) tutorials I’ve found in old books) – I’ve got some blue and white buttons as well as some brassy anchor ones, so I thought I’d go for a nautical theme.

I also had an eye test on Saturday and for the first time ever, I was prescribed glasses.  I got a great deal (two pairs, including scratch-resistant coated lenses for £99 – one pair of those lenses is usually around £70) and picked up one pair yesterday (the other is on order).  I always wanted glasses as a kid and now I’ve got them, it’s really weird – I think I’m glad they’re only for me to use when I feel I need them (when my eyes feel tired or I feel a headache coming on and I’m using a computer).

Saturday evening (I said it was a packed weekend, didn’t I?) I worked on the stays and I’ve finished sewing the boning channels on the front panel:

They’re not perfect, but not bad considering my newness to sewing and still-developing machine skills.  In the end I decided to sew straight through the ridgeline that forms the two horizontal bones as it would have been a massive headache to sew around them by machine (if I were hand-sewing I would have done that, though – I do like the look of the horizontal stitches) plus the ridgeline is a different width to the cable-ties, so it might have looked odd.

And as for the rest of Sunday – well, I read those embroidery books and did a little bit of stitch practice with some spare embroidery thread I had in my stash.  Unfortunately it’s off-white and pretty much matches the calico perfectly, so it wouldn’t show up very well in a photo, but this week I’ll get started on the pockets and will post pictures then.

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At last – I’ve finished cutting and filing down all the cable ties for the stays!! My hands hurt and I did manage to stab myself in the knee (it bled quite a bit, but not on the stays, which is the important thing), but the boning is ready to go. Oh and I nearly pinged a craft knife blade in my eye when it broke, mid-cut!

It took me a lot longer than I was expecting, but maybe that’s partially because I was a bit analy retentive about filing them smoothly. Now I can get on with the sewing bit – yay!

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