Archive for the 'Creativity' Category

Blackadder – the costume(s)

In 2000 I made Chad an Elizabethan costume. It was based on the BBC series, Black Adder. I only did it because Chad foolishly said, “if you make that, I’ll wear it.” Pffft. Challenge accepted.

My resources to replicate said costume were:

  1. Grainy VHS tape that was probably a copy of a copy
  2. Some photo copied & self-published books about how to make men’s Elizabethan costumes
  3. A few costuming web sites
  4. Some sketches I made from said VHS tape while it was on pause
  5. Janome sewing machine
  6. Babylock serger that scared the hell out of me

Surprisingly, the costume turned out OK. I’m not saying this to humble-brag. I’m saying this because my level of costuming skill at the time would rank as pretty darn low and technically lacking. I was self-taught – both sewing in general and definitely costume in particular, had no idea how to properly scale up or down a pattern, and was recreating from blurry photos. Let’s be honestly, I was mostly winging that mother.

 

The next year, I made a few modifications and updates. The slops got better for sure. Although I still had (or currently have) no real idea how I’m supposed to use that serger. 

Over Halloween our headless horseman was brazenly stolen off the porch. He was wearing the jerkin, doublet and sleeves – the most integral pieces of the costume.  

I was livid.

And yet, by then I’d made Chad a newer, fancier, slightly better gold Elizabethan costume.

It was no Black Adder, but it was pretty nice. And had been very time consuming.

Several years later with some more costuming experience, I decided to start from scratch. Historical garment resources had come a long way in 11 years. I decided the best place to start was a new chemise, which was the easy part. Although I still sucked at scaling patterns and dealing with fitment issues. I was, however, much better at muddling through via mock-ups in cheap muslin! A hard earned lesson, believe me.

Chemise done, a new set of neck and wrist ruffs were in order. There was a lot of conflicting and confusing info out there regarding construction. So I picked what seemed to make sense (having already gone through several different ways of making them) and machine embellished the 260 inches of fabric. At the very least, it was gonna be a huge upgrade from his original ruff. 

At which point I stopped,  pinned the ruffs into sections, put it aside “for a few days” and there it lay. Forgotten in a corner, a distraction for a different day.

Eight years later I decided it was time to review my costuming closet, make some alterations and perhaps see about that Black Adder costume again.  After all, costuming references had gotten a lot better since 2011!

I was off to the races – the turtle races.

Step 1: Locate and wash ruff material

Step 2: Find newer, better reference – a 44 page .pdf with photos and diagrams!

Step 3: Spend unnecessary amount of time on Pinterest looking up Black Adder

Step 4: Spend a week going back and forth about adding black trim to ruff material (see above)

Step 5: Spend 2 days searching craft stores for appropriate trim

Step 6: Start hand stitching trim to 260 inches of ruff material

 

To be continued, in hopefully less than 8 years.

chris on June 14th 2019 in Blogroll, Creativity

Lack of Planning on My Part Constitutes an Emergency on My Part

I was in the homestretch of finishing Chad’s frock coat. To be honest, I was feeling pretty smug. The sleeves had gone in with little struggle – in both the coat and the lining – which I considered a miracle. Sleeves and I have a complicated relationship. We’re less frenemies, more nemeses.

There I was, pinning the coat for a final ironing. It looked good; like I knew what I was doing.

There was one last thing to be done. I needed to add the buttons. To be sure, this jacket called for a lot of buttons. I was going for the full complement of 4 small buttons and 26 large ones. Unfortunately, I was left to my own devices to figure out what “small” and “large” meant, since the directions were completely silent on the situation.

I went through my button box and came up with 4 small buttons that I considered appropriate. But try as I may, I could not muster 26 matching large buttons. Crap. I was getting desperate and even started mentally going over coats and jackets we had that might have been good temporary donors. Alas, we owned nothing with 26 gold  buttons.

As much as I hated the thought of it, I decided to run out at lunch and hit up a chain craft store for buttons. Strike One. Ok. The Evil Mart was just up the way, so that was my next stop. Strike Two. I was disgusted by the miserly offerings and getting twitchy. I decided to suck it up and drive to the other large chain craft store. Strike Freakin’ Three.

Panic started to set in. It was Tuesday afternoon. The jacket had to be ready to go Friday by 7:30 pm. I needed 26 large buttons and I needed them NOW. I mulled over driving either north or south to a proper SEWING craft store, but decided I would lose my mind if I did that and was still not able to find the buttons.

So I did what every panicked person does in 2017. I ordered from Amazon. They are due to arrive Thursday night.

chris on October 25th 2017 in Blogroll, Creativity

Creative Procrastinators Unite!

On Wednesday, I found myself at a $1.00 store stalking the aisles for poster board, markers, ribbons and anything that would pass for wheels. All things that would eventually reveal themselves to be a Roman chariot for our biggest ferret, Sasquatch. (Just to clarify, not like a real functioning chariot, but a box made to look like a chariot.)

Why? Solid and legitimate question. Our ferret club has a yearly picnic. Picnics mean games…like the ferret chariot race. The rules are simple, put your ferret in a chariot and pull him across the finish line. The catch is, if your ferret jumps out, you must stop and put the ferret back in the chariot. The race is ridiculous. Ferrets leap out all over the place; chariots capsize! It is 60 seconds of gut-busting hilarity!

All you only really need an open topped box with some kind of rope to pull it. But what fun is that?  So I decided that Sasquatch needed a cool conveyance – a Jeep. No, a flipped over Jeep! That was in June. I was still mulling it over in July when I thought perhaps a Conestoga wagon pulled by my collection of Breyer horses would be amazing. I had a brief flirtation in early August with a red wagon, but that seemed dull. The horse bit stuck with me and I was sure by late August we were going with a Roman chariot. August passed into September. Labor Day happened. I worked on Lederhosen for Oktoberfest.

Suddenly on Wednesday, I realized two things:

  1. The picnic was Sunday.
  2. We were leaving Friday to camp and wouldn’t be home until Saturday evening.

Which is how on Wednesday after work I found myself clutching photos of Roman chariots, prowling the aisles of the local cheap stuff store.

chris on September 14th 2017 in Blogroll, Creativity

I sew

I sew. No really, I do. I have a pretty nice Janome machine that I drive like a race car (ZOOOOOOM! ZOOOOOOOM!). Thank god I can’t get a speeding ticket in the attic.I used to sew elaborate things like Elizabethan gowns. Or sometimes less elaborate things like suits. And maybe the occasional skirt. One time I made a duvet cover. That was horrible, just horrible.

So what have I made recently?

Carboy coozies.Yes. You read those two words correctly.

Empty coozie / Mead awaiting coozie / Mead with coozie

Why? Because Chad’s beer needs to be kept dark and happy.

Yeah, I know what you’re thinking. That is a fine piece of sewing right there. A fine piece of sewing indeed.

chris on April 22nd 2013 in Blogroll, Creativity