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!). 

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Sir Robert Sidney

The next project on the trail from past to present is my brother who now portrays Sir Robert Sidney at the Bristol Renaissance Faire. There were some definite snags in this project as it had actually been started about 4 years previous with the acquiring of fabric and design and cutting of pieces for the doublet based on a unmocked-up pattern by my brother and mother. Then I started earning my degree in Theatre, emphasis on costuming, and they said "Oh good! Now you can make it!" and it got put aside for a few years while my brother's body grew and changed as one will in 4 years. On top of that we had to make it approvable for the Guilde of St. George standards www.stgeorgebristol.org. So. we began the process of redesign and re-fitting (what a headache!) in January of 2010. With some taste and skills I didn't have 4 years ago, we managed to pull it off.

photo by Vicki Callahan

Unfortunately I don't have many good photos of him by himself as he played attendant to the Earl of Leicester (center). The doublet main and panes are a blue and black cotton/poly blend upholstery weight with copper metallic threads in the pattern as well. Doublet upper is black leather with couched cord and beaded. Trim around skirting pieces and every other pane is folded leather and copper flat trim as a constructed piping. The cape is blue velvet lined with black silk, with trimming in copper filk (faux silk) and black trim overlaid.
photo by Vicki Callahan

                    photo by Ivan Phillips

photo by Denise Prohaska

The sleeves are black silk, with black cotton lining. The detailing is of the Sidney feon, the family symbol made of cut leather handstitched to copper filk which was then satin stitched and appliqued to the sleeve.

I also made the hat as a stylized flat cap using blue and black silk, with copper trimming.

One of my new projects on the table is new doublet and slops for him so we can get him dressed properly with better fabric and fit so keep your eyes peeled for that project in the works!

Again, thanks for reading! Next up, the infamous "Grey-clyffe" dress made for my character Mistress Mary Radclyffe for the 2010 season...

The beginnings...past projects

So, why this blog? For myself really, so I can track my projects and show others what I'm working on. Who knows what else it could become, but for the time being here are some things I've made that I wish I had documented in this way....
Here is the first dress for portraying Mistress Mary Radclyffe at the Bristol Renaissance Faire in Kenosha, WI. www.bristolfaire.com/bristol. The bodice and skirt were harvested from the first dress I ever attempted to make. The fabric is a poly/cotton blend upholstery weight in a rust red with gold and green details. The trim is a green rayon velveteen with black twist cord. The detail at the shoulder treatment and across the top of the bodice is handcut appliques of the pattern in the dress material, satin edge stitched and beaded with tiny black seed beads. There is also hand done embroidery outlining the pattern in strips down the skirt. Forepart and sleeves are a green washed dupioni silk with black velvet and chinese gimp trims. The headpiece is a stylized version of an attifet also using the green silk and black trim.

The bodice is a split style inspired by this portrait of Helena von Snakenborg
This project was begun in the fall of 2008 with many hours of embroidery and was completed by July 2009.

Here's a snapshot of my family many years ago with the first dress I ever attempted to make using the red fabric.

So there's where it began. Thanks for reading, any comments or questions you know where to leave them! Next up will be my brother's outfit for portraying Sir Robert Sidney, also at Bristol!