Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Costuming at Costume College 2014 - Part 1 Thursday and Friday

Where do I start??!!  Even if you are new to costuming you will soon hear about Costume College, the 3-day event hosted by the Costumer's Guild West, Inc. and held in early August in California.  It has classes, events, socializing, tours, shopping, and fun!  It has everything a costumer wants no matter your passion.  People come from all over the world!  I truly believe that every costumer should attend at least once.  It is a memorable experience!

I wanted to attend Costume College to meet the wonderful people I've met online; the seamstresses, bloggers, people who inspire and share, and who participate in this fun world of history and fantasy.  I also wanted to completely immerse myself in the events and socializing and pure enjoyment of wearing the costumes I've spent hours creating.  There were 5 events where costumes could be worn although many wore them throughout the weekend.  Kay, my friend and Costume College roommate, is a wonderful costumer and accomplished seamstress.  Kay and I and our husbands have taken the Victorian Dance Cruise together and Kay participates in costume events monthly.  Since she operates her own antique mall (lucky lady!) she doesn't have much time for sewing or planning.  Kay and I talked just briefly about our Costume College plans and I made some of my costume decisions based on what she was bringing.  Since Costume College has been held for over a decade there are many people who know each other well and even plan mini costume themes for the events.  Not to worry!  Whatever you wear you will fit right in and you will have the time of your life!

Event #1 - The Pool Party, Thursday Evening

Since I participate in the Historical Sew Fortnightly Challenges and the theme for the Pool Party is Tike Chic Darlings! I plan a 1930s Beach Pyjamas costume which will work for both the party and a HSF Challenge.  With 5 costume events and only 2 suitcases I have to plan carefully and think that I can also wear this costume when I fly home.  I've learned 3 things about costuming:

1.  Always buy more fabric and trim than you think you will need.
2.  Always have a back-up costume so that you don't get stressed out when time gets tight or plans change.
3.  Create costumes that truly inspire you so they have more possibility of getting finished.

Getting ready for Costume College was a serious practice in #2.  Kay had decided to wear her Victorian Bathing Suit and since my flight was arriving late Thursday I needed something that I could put on right out of the suitcase.  So what will I wear?

In 2008 I was inspired by this plate in Victorian Fashions & Costumes From Harper's Bazar 1867 - 1898.  It is a beach and bathing dress scene from the cover July 4, 1885.

The costume on the left inspired me to re-create it even though I had no plans or place to wear it at the time.  Simplicity 2890 was my base pattern.
The finished suit:

Then I studied the bonnet.....
...and thought it looked like a modern-day baseball cap.  I made a muslin mock-up of a cap that could slide over a baseball cap and tie on.

And here was the final style.
Since I had no plans to wear this costume, when someone wanted to buy it from me I sold it and shipped it away.  When I was going to the Victorian Dance Cruise and needed a Victorian Bathing Suit I wrote the purchaser and asked her if she wanted to sell it back to me.  She hadn't worn it, I bought it back, and packed it into storage when I took a new position out of state.  When the Cruise happened I couldn't get it out of storage, and bought a ready-made VBS.

So after all this time....after all the travels....the multiple owners.....this little costume got to be worn and enjoyed at Costume College 2014!

Even though my airport shuttle was late, and I was late, I still had a great time with the other ladies who chose Victorian bathing suits!

Event #2 - Ice Cream Social, Friday Evening
Friday was a heavenly day!  I toured the FIDM Museum spending time in the Helen Larson Exhibit of corsets/stays and the silhouette created for different gowns, the television costume exhibit including all the gowns and uniforms/suits from the court scene of Downton Abbey, the archives where I saw the workings for the 2018 exhibit, and many other stunning and educational items.  I could have gone home that day and felt that my trip to California was worthwhile!
But, of course, I have an evening event!  The Ice Cream Social - Club Ice where "For two hours only, Salon F will magically turn into Club Ice, the hippest place in this or any other galaxy.  Wear your most outrageous party outfit..."  Sounded perfect for the most outrageous outfit I have ever made - my Avatar inspired 19th century gown made for an online costume contest in 2010.
In James Cameron's movie (part 2 due in 2016!) The Na' vi are a peaceful race who are forced to defend their planet and lifestyle from invaders.  They are blue-skinned with zebra-type markings and glittered lines over their faces.
Neytiri, the heroine, wears purple leggings when she rides her banshee.  
The thought behind this costume was - What would Neytiri wear if she lived in the 19th century?  It should, of course, be from the Natural Form Era, with colors she would love. 
These were my fabric choices...
...and this was the final gown.

And like the Victorian Bathing Suit, this costume was finally going to be worn!  The theme of the 2014 Costume College was Finishing Touches:  The Art & Craft of Accessories.  I'm a huge fan of and believer in accessories.  They provide the perfect touch!  (This is why this blog is called The Perfect Touch!)  I believe in accessories from head to toe!
For the Club Ice event I create some ice by adding crystals to a plain banshee-inspired tiara and wearing the tiara with a three chain rhinestone headpiece and purple braided hairpiece.
No bling.

Lots of bling!

Neytiri is a pro with a bow, so I added feathers and satin ribbon to a child-size bow and arrow which could hang from a chatelaine.

Down to the toes....with purple suede shoes with some bling added and zebra-inspired stockings.
Ohhh, look at all those Club Ice shoes!
Here is the complete Avatar gown for the Ice Cream Social.  What you can't see is the gold eyeliner (the Na' vi have gold eyes) and the blue shadow markings on my face.  Make up, the ultimate accessory!

Kay had purchased early entry into the Marketplace and headed there while I was dressing.  You can see that the corselet laces up the back and even though I started the lacing with the corselet on backward, when I tried to turn it around something was wrong and I was stuck!  Never fear at Costume College!  I headed downstairs and asked the first costumers I saw to help me which they graciously did!  If you are reading this - Thank You, again!!  You are the perfect example of the wonderful people who attend Costume College!
Kay and I end our first full day at Costume College in smiles!
Part 2 Saturday will be next!
Love always,

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Historical Sew Fortnightly Challenge #15 - The Great Outdoors

My life is like a stroll on the beach...
as near to the edge as I can go.
I've read studies that being close to the water makes most people feel safe and calm.  There is something about the flow and freedom of the ocean or lake that makes me dream.  So for this HSF Challenge - The Great Outdoors - I chose a time of change and pushing the limits, the 1920s and 1930s, and something for the beach, beach pyjamas.
There is a lot of documentation and photographs for the full-legged style of beach pyjamas including this blog by The Dreamstress when she created her Deco Mermaid style:
The colors of this vintage style range from cool to hot, the fabrics from mild to wild.
 For my beach pyjamas I'm using Folkwear Pattern 252.  I have a piece of floral fabric that works well with my late 1930s-style sandals and a coordinating piece of solid fabric.
 The cotton floral fabric was a nice piece I had in the stash but there were only 2-1/2 yards.  The cotton peach fabric coordinates nicely and is inspired by this similar style:
 So I could make the bodice and collar out of one fabric and the yoke and legs out of another.  I draped the dressform to help with my decision.

Even when I decided to make the lower portion from the floral fabric I still had to do some creative piecing as the leg portions were wider than my fabric.

 I managed to get everything cut from the fabric on hand and when I pinned it all on the dressform I was happy with the design!
Most of the sewing is very straightforward using a variety of seam finishes.  The edging of both the collar and sash called for a "picot hem" which was described in the instructions.  After turning the fabric edge in 1/8" and pressing, a medium width zig-zag stitch is made close to the edge.  When the thread pulls itself it creates a pretty scalloped edge.  It worked beautifully on the collar edge!

The sash is a combination of both fabrics.  The edges are pressed in and then stitched along the edge with wrong sides together.  The floral fabric was a bit heavier and the edge didn't scallop as much as it did with the peach fabric but the finished edge is still pretty with the zig-zag stitch.  As you can see, I believe in pins!.
A little bit of floral fabric added to my straw gardening hat and I'm ready for my beach adventure next January!  Here I've also added an embellished straw bag which I found at a flea market.  I'm mixing eras just a bit but I love the overall feel and I hope you do too!
This photo is in honor of the recent Downton Abbey photoshoot.  Can you spot the historical error?

Ready for the beach?  Let's go!
Love always,

Historical Sew Fortnightly
What It Is:  1930s Beach Pyjamas
The Challenge:  #15 The Great Outdoors
Fabric:  Cotton
Pattern:  Folkwear 252
Year:  1920s and 1930
Notions:  Thread, snaps, hooks and bars
How historically accurate is it?  Pattern based on vintage designs and fabric with vintage-inspired colors
Hours to complete?  6 hours
First Worn:  For these photos, but made for the Victorian Dance Cruise in January 2015
Total Cost:  Fabric 5 yards = $15.00

P.S.  The error is the plastic water bottle!


Saturday, August 9, 2014

Historical Sew Fortnightly Challenge #14 - Paisley and Plaid and 1910s Suit-A-Long - The Skirt


I could hardly believe my good fortune at being able to attend Costume College 2014!  I'm now home as I'm writing this and have to say that it is the most wonderful convention for all levels and tastes of costumers.  It is positive, energetic, sharing, and fun!  There were 158 first-time attendees this year.  I was one of them and felt so at home.  Of course, knowing many of these folks online and through Historical Sew Fortnightly was half the fun.

It's evident that of those who do costume during Costume College (not everyone does), many hours are spent preparing for the events.  I'll write a separate post about my costumes later but I've tried to meet some of the HSF Challenges with costumes I wanted for Costume College.  In the case of this Challenge #14 - Paisley and Plaid I went even further by making the skirt from a beautiful blue/green/ivory plaid for my 1910s Suit-A-Long with Wearing History.  How's that for planning?  Hahaha!  No, I'm not that organized!  Just luck, however, as it happened to be in the stash and went well with the $2.00/yard linen I had purchased.  These are my fabrics chosen in April for the suit, and the lace and trims for a hat.  (Click on any photo in the blog and you can see the full photo line of large photos.)

The skirt fabric is a royal blue and sage green with a raised thread of twisted ivory.  The plaid is small; just 1/4" between ivory stripes and it is a mid-weight almost upholstery feel material.  It laundered beautifully and ironed on the cotton/linen setting while still holding the structure I wanted to reproduce a style similar to this plate.
The pattern we're using in the 1910s Suit-A-Long is the newly introduced pattern from Wearing History R109 based on an April 1916 original pattern from McCalls.  The pattern has been redesigned for modern body types and comes in a wide range of sizes.  It is also available as a paper or e-pattern.  There is so much room for creativity and personal expression in this pattern with the different collars and lengths of both jacket and skirt and the addition of jacket pockets and cuffs.
I had already finished the hat, corset, underthings, and blouse for this project but as I'm only cutting fabric on July 18 and Costume College starts on July 31, I'm in a bit of a panic as to whether I can complete what seems to be a complicated costume.  My back-up plan (I always have one to put stress at bay) is to wear everything but the jacket in case that is all I finish.  So I measure what skirt length I desire and cut my fabric.  Yes, you read that right.  No mock-up!  Something I would never recommend but since I've sewn other Wearing History patterns with excellent results I'm confident on the sizing based on my experience.  And since the fabrics were free and cheap, I'm calling this my mock-up.

After I cut my skirt fabric I pin it on the dressform to see how the plaid lays for the skirt pieces and the outer belt.  The body of the skirt is two front halves with the skirt opening at the top center front, and a single back piece.
The front edges are finished with bias tape and folded inward...

...and the center fronts marked with chalk.  Then the front is sewn down the chalk mark leaving an opening at the top.

Because of the length of the skirt and the small plaid I used every pin I own to pin before sewing.  I would pin at every ivory line to make sure the pattern lined exactly and would not remove the pin until just before that section would be sewn.  While this took a while the alignment was worth the extra work.
The skirt extends above the waist and is held in place with an inner belt which has darts to hug your body curves when worn.  I had a burlap ribbon and doubled it for my inner belt.  Here is the inner belt completed.  The top edge of the skirt is pressed down 1/2".  There are 2 rows of gathering threads along the marked portion of the skirt back.

Then the inner belt is pinned to the skirt, the threads gathered to fit, and the inner belt and skirt sewn together along the upper edge.

Finishing the hem is a matter of choice as there are many examples of machine finished hems including the vintage example on Wearing History's blog regarding sewing this suit.  Since I'm doing a blind stitch and my fabric is heavy, I simply pleat in the excess fabric and hand sew.

Also because of the heavy fabric I decide to use hook and bar closures under each of the top decorative buttons rather than buttonholes and buttons.

The outer belt is simple.  It is simply 2 pieces sewn together, turned right sides out, and tacked to the skirt with French loops and the linen-covered buttons.  It is more decorative than functional as the inner belt is what hugs the waist to keep the skirt in place.

Here is my finished skirt!  It hangs and flows so beautifully!  I used 7/8" buttons covered with the linen that is the lining for the Wearing History blouse pattern and the same fabric I will use for the jacket.
Because of the gathering in the skirt back there is a lot of fullness in the back of the skirt while the front is a much smoother line.
Historical Sew Fortnightly
What It Is?  1910s Skirt
The Challenge:  #14 Paisley and Plaid
Fabric:  Mid-Weight Tightly Woven Cotton Plaid
Pattern:  Wearing History R109
Year:  1910s
Notions:  Inner belt material of burlap ribbon, bias tape, button kits, thread, hooks and bars
How historically accurate is it?  Based on a 1916 McCalls pattern and sewn from on-hand fabric which would have been completely patriotic during the war.
Hours to complete?  3 hours
First Worn:  Costume College 2014
Total Cost:  Fabric in stash but probably $12 if purchased, button kits $18, miscellaneous $4 = $34

In case you are wondering, yes!, I finished the suit!  Here is a preview but we'll save the details for the next post about the jacket.

Kay wearing her gorgeous plum checked suit from the same pattern.  We had photos taken at the Costume College Portrait Studio and will share those when they are available.  Sadly, we didn't take good photos of each other before the Ascot Tea!
Love always,