Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Oxford update: Solstice Edition

So with a full evening and day off I managed to get some more work in before Christmas after all.

I managed to find all the buttons I needed, then after several times wresting them into the buttonholes and tearing up my fingers and nails with the uneven edges (and having one of them break off at the shank) I decided I couldn't stand those buttons and went out to seek more. So I put half of the new ones on and will pick up the other half tomorrow between a split shift at work.

Other than that I finished trimming the cape, added the filigrees, made a collar, turned out the cape with the lining and attached the collar and ties. The only thing left is to hem the lining to the cape. Because I allowed a little ease in the lining so it wouldn't pull and interfere with the drape of the cape I didn't just bag out that edge with the rest. The idea will be to hang the cape on a form and pin the lining to the cape where it wants to hang and where it won't pull in weird directions once it's on me. Problem: I don't have a form yet. Hopeful solution: I asked for a form for Christmas and I will hopefully hopefully hopefully get it. Then I can proceed with hemming the cape and that will be completed.

With the exception of a few last closures the slops are also finished. And with the exception of the missing buttons the doublet is also done. Tonight I was able to put on all three (nearly)completed pieces and get a great preview of the finished product:

Annnd again, my man faces don't photograph well apparently. But nevermind that for now, supposedly I will be getting man-lessons from my brother later...

So that's where I am as we wrap up the solstice. Unfortunately it's the official start of winter, fortunately it means every day from here out will get progressively longer! Aside from the aforementioned finishing items the next step in completing the outfit will be the sleeves. I have to order some flat back crystals and rim settings to decorate the sleeves but I can start putting the trim down once I pattern and cut the pieces. I'm quite excited at the progress so far and was ecstatic to be able to get myself into the gear tonight. Corset and all even after a big meal! Movement is great. I can sit, gingerly but mostly without fear. Kneeling, kicking, dancing, bending over a reasonable amount; all good. I can't imagine having junk though... I don't know where it would go. The slops are quite personal if you know what I mean. Everything is perfectly fit that way and I don't even need to make lacing holes and ties to tie the doublet to the slops. It all just stays put.

Anyway enough blathering on. Next update will probably be showing off any and all the goodies I get for Christmas. Should be a good haul considering the majority of my list was comprised of sewing or costuming tools. Super crossing my fingers for Gingher pinking shears and that dress form! Thanks for tuning in and Happy Solstice, Merry Christmas, and/or Happy Holidays!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Collar, Cape and more!

Quite a bit more done!
With the exception of several more buttons to buy (have to hit all the Joann's in a 100 mile radius to find them all...) and sew on, the doublet is done. Did a fun chevron job on the collar and bound the armholes.

Moving on next to the cape... I picked up the velvet and a couple more trims for it and got all the trim down tonight.

 The cape is a little over 180 degrees. 240 to be exact, with layered trim radials and cord fringe along the bottom edge. At the end of each radial there will be some sort of filigree or rosette... we'll see what I can find...

Well I can't believe Christmas is next week already! Not sure when I'll get to working on it more before then but we'll see what we can manage... So excited for how it's looking so far!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Leaps and Bounds!

Wow! So I've been a little errant in my updating. I finished working on Friday with just enough time to pack up to travel to Madison. I thought I would blog when I got to the hotel that night but alas, my photos wouldn't upload on that connection. Had a whole day off today so I got a lot done from Friday and today.

With the exception of some finishing details the slops are DONE!

I made a chevroned codpiece to go with it that I'm quite pleased with. I modified a pattern from Janet Arnold's Patterns of Fashion for it:

*Note: I removed the tassel. It was a fun idea but dare I say it, a little TOO much... it just stuck out like a -- well you know.

Friday I spent putting the slops together and today I finished them. Friday also saw me finishing the trim on the doublet and today I put the epaulettes and piccadils on and bagged out the doublet with the lining. So I have a nearly wearable doublet!
There are a whopping four layers in the doublet. There's the silk outer that was flatlined to a layer of canvas before the trim went on and there the cotton lining also flatlined to another layer of canvas which has boning channels. It's very stiff which is perfect! It's also very tight. I need to cut down the underarms just a bit and drape&make a collar. I started working buttonholes but those will be finished another night.  With my corset on underneath I was able to give it a trial put-on.
(That's my serious man-face lol!)

It's quite snug fitting that's absolutely necessary in the slops to ensure ease of movement. I can kneel, reverance, walk, kick. I forgot to try sitting but who needs to do that anyway, we're at court on progress here folks! No time to sit around lazy-like. No really though I'll have to go back and double check that, but I'm sure if I can do everything else I should manage a perch at the least.

So that's about where I'm at. Once the doublet is finished I still have sleeves and cape to tackle. So we've still got a ways to go but it sure feels good trying something on.

And because they're just too darn cute... here's some more Chewi and Kimora:

Thanks for checking in!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Trimming the Earl

Very productive night tonight! Official first blood drawn on the project. Sweat is a given but hopefully the tears part will only be tears of happiness upon its completion. Since I got all the panes cut and put together last night I was able to slap the edge trimming on those first thing.
Before Trim:
 After Trim^v
After that I took to the doublet. I had the black and gold striped fabric cut the other day so I cut some canvas for an interlining and flatlined one layer to the black. That gave the fabric enough weight to then lay the trim down without the trim making the fabric pucker or stretch. There will actually be two layers of trim but I only tackled the first layer tonight.

Tomorrow I think I'll put down the next layer which will be the gold cord (used on the panes and piccadils) down the center of that ribbon. Somewhat like so:
Too much gold??? Naaaahhhh....

I'm really getting excited! It's coming together much quicker than I anticipated. There's still lots and lots to do and very very far to go yet but I'm pleasantly surprised thus far. Pleasantly surprised indeed.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Oxford Progress Continues...

With the whole day devoted to working on the Oxford, starting from about 10am and wrapping up at midnight, I guess I got a good amount done. Nothing very concretely done to show but I did get done:

  • Patterned slops
  • Mocked-up slops
  • Altered andtrued-up slops
  • Cut slops
  • Wefted the fabric for the slops to give a heavier hand to the silk
  • Cut fashion fabric layer for doublet
  • Did a ridiculous amount of math and planning for chevroned panes
  • Marked fabric for chevroned panes (30 total)
I will cut the panes tomorrow, for fear of screwing majorly up if I do it at this time of night with my brain in this state. I'm pleased overall with the progress. Getting the slops all patterned and draped was pretty daunting so I'm glad that's all set. And I really wasn't sure I'd be able to do chevroned panes because I only had 2 yards (54") of fabric to get the doublet and panes out of. It would've been quite easy to get all the panes going vertically striped but wanting them chevron striped meant placing them on the bias = way more fabric space needed to lay out. 

So there we have it, I get my fancy panes like I wanted. I only have scraps left but that just means I didn't overbuy right? 

Ok, since I didn't really get anything done worth looking at I'll wrap up tonight's update with a peek at my work-buddies!

Here's Chewi and Kimora! Kimora is the one with more white. They are sisters, about 2 years old, American Pit Bull Terriers. They are my roommates' but I love 'em like they were my own. They are a little over-energetic sometimes but totally sweet and will give you as many kisses as you let them land. Chewi will come downstairs with me sometimes but Kimora is very unsure about the stairs and won't come down more than getting her front paws two steps down while keeping her backs on the landing. She just sits up there and cries when Chewi and I are down here sewing and she wants to come too :( 

Well that's all for tonight. I'm beat and have to work in the morning so I'm off to hit the hay. Thanks for tuning in!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Oxford Epaulettes

And the slow progress continues... still awaiting availability of funds. But here's a peek at the epaulettes to go with the piccadils. 

They were a bit of a pain to get how I wanted them. Mostly the turning and getting the eeky little corners clipped close enough to turn without being all woodgy but not so close that the seam gave out. Then zigzagging the trim around the edge was a little annoying but I'm happy with how they turned out. 

There's about an extra inch of seem allowance at the shoulder seam from what I patterned so I'll play with how far out/wide they will sit. 
Here's another shot of all the piccadils along the edge of my doublet pattern to get a better idea of what that will look like with the epaulettes:

So now with those done, I'll have to figure out what to work on on my day off tomorrow, guess yall'll find out tomorrow night on this blahg! Thanks for checking it out!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

In Progress! Earl of Oxford Piccadils!

Good news (for me really, I don't know about anyone else)! I did start WORKing on Oxford, not just staring at it. I'm a little budget tight right now so I have to wait to get some of the materials for the doublet, mostly interfacing and sundries, but I have started to make the piccadils. I know, it's a small victory, but starting is always my biggest hurdle. There's a quote about running that I think often applies to projects like this: It's not about having the strength to finish, it's about having the courage to start. So I have begun and finishing is just a matter of time! 
The piccadils are about 1.75in wide and will be about 1.5in long, once inserted into the seam. I'm using the black striped fabric, lined with green silk on the underside, and piped with the gold twist cord that will be used on the doublet main.

There's a super close-up to show you the detail on the black striped fabric. It has wonderful texture! Hopefully I won't make the doublet and decide I want the piccadils to be different... so far I like them and it's something to work on while I'm waiting for the funds to do everything else...

Until next time! Thanks for visiting!

Monday, November 22, 2010

New project- Earl of Oxford

So one of my favorite figures to study from Elizabethan England is Edward deVere, the 17th Earl of Oxford. My first character at Bristol was Anne Cecil who became the Countess of Oxford. Through my exploration of her history and character I naturally learned quite a bit about Oxford. My next project is an opportunity for me to explore a number of topics and challenges that have been fascinating to me. I love playing a different character and getting to be someone else and pass as them for the day (or summer). I'd love to explore one extreme of this aspect which is female-to-male gender passing. I want to try to play the Earl of Oxford. Challenging though it may be I'm determined to do as much as I can to pass as a 16th century Earl without hormone treatment or body alteration or even a haircut!
Luckily one thing that will help is the clothing. With a boned doublet and slops, I will be able to mask an otherwise femininely contoured body. I may put some of my other transformation things up on this blog as I go through the process of figuring out how to pass for a day convincingly enough at conversation distance as a man. Yeah, that's gonna be tough. Mainly however, I will post my progress of just making the clothing. So without further preamble, here's what I'm starting with.

The scheme is black and gold, clearly. Oxford is the second highest ranking Earl and is very arrogant and entitled from my feeling of his personality. Angsty even in some ways. He spends money he doesn't really have but feels he deserves anyway because of his rank and person. Taste isn't exactly his buzz word when it comes to styling.
Here is the first rendering I have for the look. Please note! I'm not attempting to recreate the outfit in the Earl's portrait. This outfit is for entertainment/historical theatrical purposes. I actually sketched this on the airplane while watching Orlando on my laptop. The labeling says I'd be playing the character for the Guilde of St. George at Bristol, however that WILL NOT be so. When, if ever, I play Oxford it will be at smaller faires or purely as a patron, as Bristol has a strict No Crossing policy for its cast members (unless they are on a personal transgender path themselves, which I am not).

Some of the details on the renderings have already changed slightly as I acquired the fabrics I'll be using. But these are the general blueprints.

The doublet and panes will be styled out of the black and gold striped silk. The gold is a pale gold, not metallicized. The silk is a heavier weight fabric I found at Vogue Fabrics in Evanston, Il. The stripes will run vertically on the doublet and if I have enough fabric I'd like to create a chevron look with the panes, alternating which way the stripes slant. Codpiece would ideally be chevroned as well. We'll see how that goes...

In between every other stripe will be some layered black and gold trim (yes more!).
For the simple two-piece sleeves, I found a metallic brocade, more actual cloth of gold style, NOT lame (lah-MAY). These will be horizontally trimmed w/ black soutache and more black and gold trim as well as some detail-highlighting set stones and beading.
The demi-cape will be either 3/4 circle or full circle out of black velvet with gold lace-trim radials and green silk lining.

The hat has yet to have designated fabric but it's the last thing on the list as I want to figure out my wigging situation first and then figure out how big/what proportion the hat should be. Besides, it won't take too long so if it's left for the last that will be alright.

So far I have 7 different black&gold trims for this outfit! Like I said, the look is over the top but still a little sullen and snobbish. Regal but stand-offish. Ostentatious rather than tasteful.

If I can get my butt started on this I will post more pictures of the progress. If not, I'll next post some pictures of the two other projects on my table. Thanks for visiting and any comments!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The "Grey-clyfffe" Dress

This is the most recent of my completed projects. This dress I designed January 2010 for my continued portrayal of Mistress Mary Radclyffe at the Bristol Renaissance Faire.
photo by Vicki Callahan

 I found the grey fabric for the main at the Textile Discount Outlet (aka LZ's aka Saul's) in downtown Chicago. The fabric was unmarked but it is predominantly cotton light upholstery weight. The trimming is all self-made (no manufactured trims). I cut strips of burgundy silk velvet and teal cotton velveteen and made the pipings out of grey or burgundy silk cut on the bias.

 The sleeves (which some of us fondly refer to as "michelin-man style" are made from grey silk from Fishman's Fabrics in Chicago gathered onto a linen/cotton lining with the banding made from bias strips of the same fabric as the forepart with a burgundy silk "cuff".

photo by Steve Spitzer
                                                   photo by Vicki Callahan

The piccadils (at waist and shoulders) I made from cutting around part of the grey pattern and piping in both the burgundy and grey. Because of the bulk of the piping, I ended up lining all 18 pieces by hand to get the precision around the shaped edge.

photo by Vicki Callahan

 The forepart I decorated by embroidering the chevron pattern with a light grey floss and used small teal and grey bead and pearls. The teal cording at the guard is the only pre-made trim I used.

photo by David Hails

The hat I made is an escoffion made on a semi-flexible based covered with burgundy silk over which I laid a teal organza by knife pleating it to the outer edge and gathering it to a point at the back.

All of my dresses are spiral laced with a silk tie. Special attention in the cutting stages allowed the pattern to be nearly perfectly matched at center back.

photo by Vicki Callahan

So there is the Greyclyffe dress. I began accumulating the materials in January. Construction in earnest began in July, although I had decorated the forepart almost entirely by then, and the dress debuted for the 5th weekend of Bristol on August 7th. I'm remarkably pleased with it despite some hijinks the last week of its creation wherein on top of stitching 8 1/2 hours for work, I was up working an additional 6 hours each night mon-wed until Thursday after work I sat down to work at 6:00pm and crawled into bed around 9am the following morning, woke up at 12:00pm to work until 6:00pm when I had to pack up and begin my journey down to site putting the finishing stitches on the escoffion while my brother drove. Phew! Sorry for the run-on-and-on sentence but I feel it properly represents that week! 

So once again, thanks for tuning in! I appreciate and welcome any questions or comments. Next up: a peek at my working set-up and maybe even a peek at the new up and coming projects (hint: lots of pretty pretty fabric is guaranteed!).