Friday, April 27, 2012

Hi, my name is Kat, and I'm a Fabriholic...

I got back today from ferrying another load of my possessions from my parents basement in Wisconsin to my apartment in Washington. A good amount of those possessions are fabrics and with the return of my nice camera I decided to do an inventory of the fabrics I've been accumulating.
(Just a few of my favorites)

As you may have noticed by my "If You Find Yourself In" series, I find fabric stores, or just go peruse the red tag section at Jo-anne, and fabrics jump out at me. Cry out to me. BEG ME to take them home! I'm pretty sure I'm the Fabric Whisperer-- these fabrics have stories they want to tell and they come to me and trust me to release their spirit by realizing their story. It would be callous and cruel of me to deny them. Many times the fabrics I get aren't for any specific project when I find them but as other fabrics find me they meet each other in my studio and discover their destinies are intertwined!

Here's what's come together so far.

Sketch for a Venetian Courtesan gown:
 The fabrics that inspire:
 Copper organza, gauzy cotton with gold pin striping, tan/goldish damask, beaded embellishment, salmony/coppery silk with mettalic copper flecks, tan/goldish embroidered silk.
 A close up of the detail on the cotton for the camicia.
Pretty low on the priority list but I'm in love with the scheme!

Sketch for another Elizabethan set, possibly Radclyffe, but possibly not...
 Changeable teal/mauve silk chiffon, bronze and black ribbed heavyweight silk, mauve silk, teal silk, mauve Italian cotton velvet, antique cold cording.

The most gorgeous silk chiffon, it has such a beautiful hand. Divine.
Not sure where in the line up this one comes but I'm also very excited for putting these fabrics together!

No sketch for this one yet. I don't usually go for such primary color combos but I found the yellow fabric and just had to have it. Already had the red velveteen and that's black silk organza.

 Then I remembered the stripe fabric I found in Phoenix last month. (which is actually a blue/brown/red/gold stripe fabric but I'm going to cut out the blue part and just use the red/gold/brown bits.
Also undetermined priority level.

And lastly for now, it's my goal to make an Henrician gown so I can go play with courts at Henry VIII based faires. I'm not a big fan of the look of that period but I finally came up with something I'm happy with and the fabrics are delicious as well.
Airplane drawing, hence the wrong paper. Funny story but the idea for the trim overlay on the forepart was inspired by a fellow flight attendant's shoe straps. I had to sketch it out right away!

 I want to use the teal velveteen as the main fabric for skirt and bodice/upper sleeve. The strawberry-dun shell patterned fabric with be the forepart and under sleeve with a trim overlay and beading. The strawberry-dun silk will be the under portion of the bodice and the drapey-over hanging part of the sleeve.

This one is pretty high on the priority list as I'd like to be able to wear it to Henrician faires as they come up. I can always wear an Elizabethan gown but I really like to immerse and play so I'll be happier in the appropriate period wear.

I also have one Elizabethan dress in progress that will probably be the next project I work on, but I'll save pictures of that for another time.

Woohoo fabric!

Camera Issues Resolved!

I don't have anything new to show, but I have figured out a solution to my camera issues. Ok, well, the nice guy at Best Buy figured out a solution.. So here's the story.

One night I'm trying to upload pictures from my Nikon Coolpics. I find the cord and attempt to plug it into the camera. It doesn't quite go all the way in at first and, in a sad moment for evolution, instead of checking that I have the correct cord I just go ahead and shove it further in. Of course I decide after that to check the cord, and sure enough, it's the cord for my phone. I have now successfully bent stuff where the cord should plug in. After vainly plugging in the correct cord over and over again, I have to admit defeat as the camera proceeds to die from lack of charge-ability. This all occurs just before my big move out west and that is why only now do I attempt to find a fix.

Now we come to best buy so I can compare the plug-in site to a new camera and verify that my camera is indeed fugged up. So I ask the nice guy there if he thinks it would be an easy fix. He also verifies that the techy stuff in the little hole does look bent and suggests I could try to use a small screwdriver and bend it back, but it may have more unseen damage. He also points out that sending it in to get fixed would cost about $100 so I'd be better off buying a new camera. I say ok, great! NOT! At my look of despair he gets a brief thinking look on his face and tells me that I can solve the charging part by getting a separate battery charger (which my parents have a spare of so they gave it to me) and I can still get the pictures off of the camera by getting a memory card to usb reader for about $10! I did so and WOOT! It works. I also attempt to bend the stuff back into place but I have to wait to get back home to try plugging it in like normal. In the meantime, I will for sure be able to provide better pictures, and I may try to get new better photos of the things I've posted recently.

I'll get around to that but just to celebrate the return of the camera, here's one of my favorite photos I rescued from pre-bad-decision-induced-damage-era.
That's right! The happiest place on earth: Lambeau Field!

Ok, that's all I've got for now. Look out for better pictures coming soon!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Forging ahead!

So the doublet was always going to be the most painstaking part of this outfit, and I'm proving that by spending all day cutting, slashing, and trimming the doublet. (Admittedly I was also watching Bones and/or Elizabeth R and drinking Mike's Hard Strawberry Lemonade (I know super girly right?) so saying "all-day" is kind of an overstatement in regards to total focus, but you get the idea.)

So here you can see I've cut the fabric ever so slightly on the bias to give a very tall chevron effect to the front of the doublet. Then between the grey stripes I've basically made 4 inch buttonholes. I ran a buttonhole stitch with a little extra space in between to allow the red silk to show more. This allows me to achieve the slashed look without worrying about this (very fray-y) fabric fraying.

Then I used another multi-shade grey striped fabric to cut two strips of trim to frame the slashing.

Then to polish off the look and bring that red out just a bit more I went in and put down a strip of red rattail cord down the center

I was originally going to zigzag the rattail down but I really don't like doing that unless it's an edging detail. I think it interrupts the flow of the solid trim and looks belabored, especially against the shiny rattail. So I decided to try something I didn't think I could do with a cord. I edge-stitched the rattail down. And when I say edge-stitched I mean I barely caught the rattail as I went along. BOOYAH! It took some zany precision but I'm so happy with the result. It looks like the cord is just floating there! One more little trick to put in my pocket that might come in handy in the future (and opens up a ton of new design options *evil grin*).

So here's what that finished doublet front looks like:

Sometimes fabrics just fall into your hands off the rack and practically yell at you. This was definitely one of those moments. As I said before, this outfit is for a cast member who originally approached me and asked me to design the suit, before we knew I'd end up making it. So I designed it, including the color concept before I ever saw these fabrics. Then one day I'm in Loomcraft and I get no further than 10 feet in the door and all of these fabrics just jumped off their remnant rack into my arms and BOOM! Next thing I knew I was walking out the door with a bag full of fabric and shooting my friend an email letting him know I'd be making this. Sometimes a design or color scheme changes as you start fabric hunting and constructing but I'm quite impressed by the match. Here's the color palette I made up and presented to him with the design (before I ever saw these fabrics!)

It's even the exact shade of grey!! And grey is, believe or not, one of the hardest colors to match. Seriously, try it sometime. It sounds easy, how many greys can there be?? But once you start looking; good effin' luck!

So there's my triumph today. Little victories, right? Tomorrow I have my probationary review for my new job, so tune in next time to find out if I still have said job!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Just a Doublet Away!

So for some reason I've come to leave the doublet for last. I'm reluctant to say this is because I'm intimidated by it but it's probably true. Let me explain. No, a doublet would not usually give me pause but this outfit is for someone roughly 6 states away and although I have a full set of measurements, time and opportunity does not afford a proper fitting/ mock up before the outfit is needed. This is the first time I've attempted to make something that is, by nature, entirely dependent on precise fit without being able to ensure a precise fit via the usual avenues (see mock up/fittings).  And to conclude, the doublet is the least forgiving, in my opinion, of a poor fit and so makes me nervous.

That's why this is where I'm at:

That's right.
Hat - done, minus feather affixing
Slops -done, minus closures
Sleeves - done, minus ties at armscye
Chemise - done
Doublet - you haven't been reading, have you...

And the ever popular 3/4 view:

And remember those little red edged tabbies?

There they are! 

Simple shaped two piece sleeves, with just a hint of decoration. With the stripys on the slop panes, and the stripys that will be the doublet, I wanted the sleeves to be very simple, to give the eye a rest,  with just a hint of red which will bring out the bit of red... that you'll soon see in the doublet! 

Most of the last bits were done while watching episodes of Bones, but yesterday I discovered Bilgemunky Radio. Yes, that is an online radio/ podcast that is completely all PIRATE MUSIC! Now, I have pirate ancestors, but I know most of you are rennies as well and so are partial to the pirate scene. So if you feel like a bit of scallywag mood music, go check it out. Sometimes you just have to shake up the usual routine!

Thanks for checking in! 

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Mini update

So here's the deal with my job and working on projects. I have a certain amount of days off in the month, and the rest I'm on call. Sometimes I know where/when I'll be flying the night before. On my days off I'm trying to get errands done, travel home, visit friends etc. When I'm on call, I never know if I'll get called in 5 minutes or 4 fours or not at all (rarely). So sometimes there's time to work on projects but I'm reluctant to start for fear I'll have to get up and leave just as I get working. But alas, I'll have to get over that.

I did get some things done the last day I was on call, so I should just suck it up and get to work (like today).

Sleeves cut, and little detail tabs made. I got called so I still have to make more little tabs to do what I want to with them (stay tuned!).

I also continue to be frustrated by how simple things take forever. I love the results and the details but it always makes me feel unaccomplished when hours of work produces a teeny square inchage of the overall project. But I love it too. I want to do more and more. Those little things are my favorite part! But it takes forever to finish one complete look because of them. But I refuse to leave them out! ARRH!! Welcome to the neurotically masochist world of my work. Brothers and Sisters who hear me, can I get an AMEN!?

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Oh so sloppy!

With the panes all prepped yesterday, today saw the assembly of the slops from cutting the lining to attaching waistband and binding off the legs. All that is left is affixing closures, but I have yet to find the right buttons so that will wait for now.

They're just pinned to the backside of my dressform but here they be.

It's always funny when you have the panes attached at the waistband but still not secured at the legs so it looks like some cthulhu/sea creature. I'll get a picture next time. But it always makes me laugh. Maybe that's because it's usually at some obscene hour of the night/morning and I'm awake when I should be asleep... Nahh....

Back at the beck and call of the job tomorrow so we'll see what the rest of the week brings!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

What a pane in the Gresham!

No, that's not just a euphemism; today's project was to finish edging the panes for Sir Thomas Gresham. It's one of those tedious steps that is basically really easy. But every seamstress learns the hard way that easy does not equal fast. You think "oh that will be easy" then 5 hours of the same repetitive process later you glare at your hopeful to-do list as you realize you've spent all day on number one. And then when you're done it doesn't even look like you did much.



The dark grey wool beneath is what the slops lining will be, which I cut tonight just to make me feel like I accomplished more than just a bunch of silly strips of edged silk. 

During today's session I listened to The Renaissance Festival Podcast and it made me really yearn for faire days. This may be the longest I've ever gone without attending a faire since I started on cast 6 years ago. Cross your fingers for me that I'll get a weekend off next month so I'll be able to go play with my friends down at the Southern California Renaissance Pleasure Faire

Sew long till next time! 

Saturday, April 7, 2012

New Project: Sir Thomas Gresham

My latest project is for a fellow cast member who is playing a new character this year and has enlisted my services to make the clothes for the part.

Here are the initial sketches I did for the design
 Stylistically I like the second sketch better but we decided to go with a hat more akin to the first and as of yet the look will not include a cape.

The way this character will be played was described to me as a wheelin' dealin' merchant/financier with a hint of used-car salesman. I wanted to translate this subtly through what he wears. The overall effect of colors is grey-- unassuming, seemingly all business-- with punches of power/blood red which hints at an underlying won't-be-said-no-to determination.
Here are fabrics, again with apologies for photo/color quality:

I started working on the panes for the slops ( I don't know why but I like starting with the panes).
That's the current state they're in as I was prevented from further work by lack of machine. So I had started the hat and ended up working on that and finishing it today.

It's so hard to see the detail in these pictures. The color is not as dark as the photo and the fabric is this really neat ribbed silverish grey silk. I want a couple long ostrich feathers in there as well, but nothing too over-the-top. 

That's what I have so far. I'll be flying for 2 days so I'll pick up work again on Tuesday and hopefully have another update for you by the 11th. 

Friday, April 6, 2012

Ahh, I love that new machine smell...

Of all the things I've gone through in the last 6 months that have made me feel really grown up and adult (i.e. new job w/ benefits, car payment, big apartment on my own, etc.) I've hit a milestone today that makes me feel like a real, honest-to-goodness, grown-up adult woman: owning the sewing machine of my dreams!!

Now, I hear you say "But, Kat, that machine doesn't have a fancy computer-brain, or a pretty touch screen, or a gazillion embroidery stitches, or a price that's roughly equal to a 2012 Ford Focus! Isn't THAT the machine of your dreams??". To which I say "no". A sewing machine is not supposed to think. That's my job. It's supposed to do exactly what I tell it to, when I tell it to. Which is why I'm the proud owner of a new Pfaff Select 4.0: a relatively simple machine that will sew through a gazillion layers of whatever I want then adeptly sew through the finest silk. Built in walking-foot :) Handles beautifully and will last a good many years and projects to come... This is my dream-machine! And it's mine mwuahahahahahahhahaha!!!!

Ok, must go sew now.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Merry Christmas, Robert!

First completed project of the year!! 

Here's the hat I made for my brother as a Christmas present from our parents:

Again, sorry for the crappy pictures. 


Sunday, April 1, 2012

I'm back!!... our regularly scheduled programming.

As promised, I was able to get things set up enough to start back to work on projects this evening! Maybe it wasn't the best idea, as I tend to get into sewing frenzy and I was up at 3:45am this morning (i love my job i love my job i love my job ((sorry, I just have to keep saying that to myself))). And of course as you can see I'm still up at 11:30pm :( But it was a rather productive night!

I started working on a new hat for my dear brother, playing Sir Robert Sidney as a Christmas present commissioned by my parents :) I already had most of the fabrics and the concept, it just took me forever to sit down to the work.
Here's the base of the crown, which took a good deal of experimenting to find the right shape and proportions that I wanted, but I got to play with different materials and got even more ideas for future projects!
And this is what I ended the night with:
The crown and brim need to be assembled of course and finished. Then I'll be making a pretty silk band and throwing on that tuft of feathers. Sound good to you? Good. Make it so! (I say to myself in my best Jean-Luc Picard voice)

Also, I apologize for the poor photo quality lately. I cannot find my camera cord to upload/charge my camera and also I think I may have damaged where it plugs into the camera anyhow... so that's not good. Until I figure that out the best I've got is my crappy phone and my macbook air's isight camera.

Woohoo!! I'm going to bed now.