Archive for November, 2008

Red Elizabethan Dress & Loose Robe

A blast from the past. I thought I should try this dress back on and see why I completely ignore it in the costuming closet. Now I know why. Apparently when I made this particular bodice I was a bit more roundy. It’s completely loose now. Wow.

The skirt was originally made to go with a different bodice (we’ll call that one Red Bodice A – RBA for short). As RBA was my first go (aside from my wedding dress) at a proper bodice using the Eleanor of Toledo model, it was a bit difficult for me to get myself dressed. So I can only surmise that my motivation in creating this bodice (Red Bodice B – RBB) was so I could get dressed without having to hunt down the master of the guarderobe (aka my poor husband) and wait patiently while he tried to lace the darn thing up.

That being said, the sleeves that were made to go with this bodice were recently untied, altered and put with the Sage Green Elizabethan Dress where, in my humble opinion, they look much better. So for this photo shoot I went ahead and tied in the long sleeves that originally went with RBA. That left my chemise sleeves showing. All in all, not such a bad effect.

I will note though, that the sleeve points need to be fixed as they just don’t cut it anymore. But since they were the first pair of separate sleeves I made, I figure I should go a little easy on my critique.

So, details of RBB that I should point out.

  • unlike RBA, this one is not self boned or even reinforced. What was I thinking? RBA and my wedding bodice were so heavily boned , someone could gut punch me and I’d not know it.
  • I was inexplicably pleased with the way the white ribbon embellished the bodice.
  • heavy gold trim was just that – heavy.
  • Firs time I tried tabs. Why did I use two different styles on one article of clothing? I have no idea.
  • Overall, RBB needs to be taken apart, taken in and boned.

On to my absolutely favorite garment ever….the loose robe.

A small bit of history about this particular piece. I was at my local upholstery store when I saw this fabric. It was a bit pricey (for me at the time) but I inexplicably fell in love with it. Not my usual color, but I was so stunned that I rushed home, grabbed a swatch of the red material and drug Chad to the store with me. That’s how overwhelmed I was. I was concerned I could not possibly determined (with any certainty) that the two materials would go together. I have never had such a reaction to fabric since. It called to me.

Flash forward and I had completed the loose robe (again pattern courtesy of Janet Arnold and her fab book). At the time it did not have sleeves. Which was period. But after a triumphant first showing, I decided I wanted to actually wear the thing. I had just enough material to make sleeves.

And I must say, there is something completely majestic about putting that robe on and walking at a brisk pace. The pleats allow the material in the back to billow out. Talk about making an entrance! I’ll also add that I saw the actual garment that Janet Arnold took the pattern from while we were at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London a few years ago. You have no idea how thrilled I was when I saw that my back pleats were a very good likeness to the original!

chris on November 21st 2008 in Creativity

Sage Elizabethan Dress

It had been a while since I’d made an Elizabethan dress from scratch and I was starting to get the itch to sew. The end result is this sage dress. (Although I will admit I scavenged the beaded sleeves from a previous dress.)

The sage material was originally purchased for and made into an Italian-style Renaissance dress. I was happy with that incarnation, but the material called to me, begging to be made into something more extravagant. So after being worn only twice, I had a photo shoot and then took the seam rippers to it.

One of the little details that pleases me to no end, but isn’t generally noticed by others, is the blackwork collar. The chemise was originally created several years ago when I was just learning to do blackwork. And I foolishly picked the back of the collar for this piece. I then decided that adding blue glass pearls & beads would be a fabulous idea. A lot of work went into this piece.

Most of my other bodices are modeled after the Eleanor of Toledo bodice in Janet Arnold’s Patterns of Fashion (c1560 – 1620). The downside of that model is that I have to have someone lace me in. For a change I went with a front opening on this bodice. Which left me with a bit of a conundrum. How do I fasten it?

My answer arrived at the last possible minute when I recalled how I had fastened some other garments. I simply sewed buttons on alternating sides of the split and then added ribbons opposite the buttons. Easy to fasten and holds tight. Problem solved.

The glass pearls on the overskirt,  bodice, skirting & shoulder tabs were all sewn on individually. It took quite a bit of time, but the end result was well worth the effort.

The underskirt worked out by happenstance. I’d run across it at a fabric store on the remnant table. For years it lived in my fabric closet until desperation sent me to excavate for a suitable fabric. I suspect that eventually I will add beading to it.

The overskirt will also receive some additional embellishments. As it was I ran out of not only time but glass pearls before the dress’s debut. I am nothing, if I am not a procrastinator. I used the cheaters method for cartridge pleating, having done the entire method by hand at least four other times. For this skirt I used drapery tape that gave me even pleats and reinforced the overall effect.

chris on November 19th 2008 in Creativity

Burgundy Corset

A veteran creator many Elizabethan stays, I thought I’d try my hand at what was billed as a Civil War period corset.  I happened to be at a local fabric store when the Simplicity patterns were on sale. So for 99 cents I snatched this pattern up.

The end product didn’t exactly match the cover art, but I was pleased with the results.

What I should have known from previous experience sewing from store bought patterns was that:

1. the size I measure for is always too big

2. the pattern pieces don’t always fit together

3. i don’t like store bought patterns.

The good news is after some adjustments I ended up with a garment that fits me fairly well. I changed up the front a bit as I couldn’t find a busk anywhere in town and was under the gun to finish it up. So I improvised and put in grommets. But instead of lacing the front and back, I then added silver buttons up both sides of the front opening. The silver buttons were attached (by sewing through the grommet holes) to plain buttons on the inside of the bodice. Run a thin ribbon around the buttons and the corset is closed.

Double Click on the individual photos for a full size view.

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chris on November 19th 2008 in Creativity

Vengeance is Ours: Bear Run

Failure is not an option, which is not true. Failure is always an option, but that doesn’t mean I like it. I might be good at it, but I…DO….NOT….LIKE….IT

Today my friends, Vengeance is Mine.

 

I spent a good bit of the early spring and summer nursing my wounded pride from the epic failed assault on  Wanna Go to the Can on Bear Run? It rankled and picked at me, like a nasty rough wool blanket. So it came as no surprise to anyone that I eagerly answered Country_Rat’s call for volunteers to tackle this cache for his 200th Find. No one ever said I was very smart.

The day dawned early, very early. And after a wretched late night of watching WVU play what passes for football these days, I wasn’t really what you’d call in prime hiking shape. None-the-less I stood glassy-eyed in the foyer, grasping my travel coffee mug amid gear and superfluous gear when Aquacache rang our wicked-loud doorbell that morning.

After making sure I had all my gear (and superfluous gear) sidekick patted me on the head and shoved me out the door, happy to let someone else be subjected to me all day – I suspect sidekick was eager for some peace and quiet to nurse his WVU football related anger before heading out to watch the Steelers play in Pittsburgh.

Running behind as always (my fault) the mighty AquaJeep sped ahead to the familiar meeting triangle of Rt. 50 / 92. And although Captain OCD was not to be joining us this fine, overcast, chilly morning I called ahead to let Rock_Rat, Country_Rat  and Gentleman-Carpenter know we were en route.

Since Aquacache had already been to the high clearance parking twice, he was elected to lead the small convoy (do 2 Jeeps count as a convoy? I’m kinda hazy on the number of vehicles required) to our destination.  We arrived at the low clearance parking to find the creek shockingly low. So low it barely even splashed as we drove across. Since Rock_Rat’s Jeep is the four-door variety, there was some discussion and scouting before a decision was reached to trudge onward and hopefully cut off some more distance (in hindsight this proved to be our best decision all day!). After finding a nice large, flat parking spot we tumbled out of the vehicles and set about putting on our gear.

And so here I have a happy little off topic paragraph about how in love I am with all the new fancy outdoor gear that is thin and lightweight but yet amazingly warm. I had on layers and layers (like a good little hiker) and by most outward appearances I seemed to still be a normal sized person in normal clothes, not some abdominal snowblob waddling up the trail. Yay for science!

Back to our story. This began much like the typical wvcoalcat cache does, walking on a trail / tram road / fire road and watching the distance between you and the cache go up while the arrow swings wildly around taunting you. At one point I (despite my experience) opened my mouth and the following words emerged, “Are we going the right way?” I just couldn’t help it. There is always something unsettling about getting further and further away from a ‘coalcat cache while walking down hill. Inevitable we were going to have to go up, up, up and then after finding the oxygen tanks stashed for any cachers brave enough to come this way, continue up, up and more up before reaching our goal.

And so we did. We climbed over downed trees, slid on loose leaf litter, stumbled blindly into holes (that would be me, mostly) and took lots of breaks. At one point we lost the trail. Finding it again was not so exciting since it went straight up the side of a smaller hill. Oh boy! My favorite, UP! Eventually we hit that point where we could continue on the trail as it (hopefully) wound slowly up to the top of the hill or just go for it.

Much like he did at Tater Knob, Country_Rat led the pack with a pace that seemed to indicate that he was on a pleasant stroll in the woods. I suspect he is insane. At any rate, the final ascent was not something that was enjoyable or pleasant which is why I forged ahead, looking down at my feet and thinking “well at least it isn’t icy”. Gasping for breath and wondering about my propensity to do stupid things, I crested the hill as Country_Rat said nonchalantly, “You see it?” to which I replied “Why yes I do – it’s over there.” (it was probably more like, ‘uh-huh’…gasp….point with hiking stick in general direction of cache…flop down on fallen tree).

A little while later, after my heart had returned to a normal beat and my legs had regained some feeling, Gentleman-Carpenter, Rock_Rat  and Aquacache arrived, stumbled toward us and the relief of a nice comfy tree to sit upon. Bless ‘coalcat for his consideration of such things when placing his cache

We signed the log book, took photos, enjoyed delicious food (yum, Twizzlers!), some “Vitamin I” and tried not to think about the descent, which was definitely going to include sliding, slipping, stumbling and possibly rolling if we were desperate. After enough time passed that our muscles were now good and cold and quite unhappy, our merry crew (delirious most likely) donned our packs and faced the inevitable walk / stumble / roll back to the Jeeps. Suffice to say, the trip down was much faster and before we knew it (delirium I’m telling you) there we were back at the parking. After debating different things such as the wonders of ice cubs that are not cubes but cylinders, different types of personal protection devices and the wonders of Twizzlers and banana flavored food bars, we unanimously agreed it was time to head to Cools Springs for proper post-wvcoalcat-cache-food.

In sum – awesome hike which we probably could not have accomplished in the ice and snow of February 2008. Great company as always. And hearty CONGRATULATIONS to Country_Rat for not only choosing a wvcoalcat cache as his 200th, but beating the rest of us to the top of the hill! That is one insane Rat!

Follow the link below more photographic evidence that we survived.

chris on November 13th 2008 in Geocaching, Links