Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Victorian Mourning gown skirt

I have been plugging along on the Victorian Mourning gown and it has taken way longer than I anticipated.  I really underestimated the time required to sew on all the little beaded appliques.  However the base skirt is finally finished.

The first thing I did was fill out the front panel with beaded appliques and beaded fringe (both of these were purchased from M&J Trimming).  I added black beaded loop fringe to the ends of the bows on the front of the dress.  I then took a beaded trim that consisted of square medallions, fray checked between the medallions and cut them apart.  I then sewed the separated medallions down the false opening panels.  Here is a full length picture for the the overall effect and a detail picture to show the medallions and fringe.

I was very worried with how long adding the beaded appliques took that I would not get the butterfly train done and the back of the skirt would be too plain. I had already planned to do the bustling but decided to add a sheer ruffle out of fabric from my stash.  I stitched down the ruffle and hid the stitching with a narrow velvet ribbon.  The ruffle is added only to the sides and the back.

To get an idea of how the skirt would look, I put on my dress dummy over some of my underpinnings.  I plan to wear my red silk corset and my basic bustle.  The corset is drafted from my own pattern and the bustle is made from a Truly Victorian pattern.

I have not posted about the red corset on here so I will give a little information.  I drafted the pattern myself.  It is funny to see it on the dress dummy because the shape on the dummy is completely different than the shape on me.  Contrary to the view on the dummy, this corset is over bust (although low in the bust) and gives a very different final shape.  

The bust is shaped by the addition of a gore on either side and the boning stops just below the bust gore.  The bone channels are flossed with black heavy cotton thread and with slightly different patterns on the top and bottom.  I am trying to get more adventurous in my flossing and some day hope to be able to make designs like the ones from the Symington Collection Flossing Sampler, a portion of which is available free here.

Here is the corset with the bustle for full effect.  I love this bustle.  Since the bustle effect is due to ties in the back, you can adjust them or completely untie them so the bustle is flat for travel.  So very convenient.

With all the underpinnings on my dummy, I was finally able to look at the skirt.  I am pretty happy with it and am glad it was not too plain to wear on its own.
Skirt Front
Skirt back
Skirt side

Friday, October 9, 2015

Victorian Mourning Gown begginings

My friend and I are attending an event in Colorado, a Victorian Wake at the Miramont Castle in Manitou Springs in a couple of weeks.  The Miramont Castle is really fun to wander through and I could not resist the chance to attend the Wake.

Of course this means I needed a dress. I have always wanted a Victorian Mourning gown so this was the perfect opportunity.  I have a Pintrest board for inspiration here.  Although I have decided not to copy a particular dress, my favorite is this dress from the Met Museum here.  I love the false front/split skirt look and decided I need this for my dress.

To start with I needed patterns.  I am using several from Truly Victorian that I will modify as needed.  I have always had good luck with their patterns.  I will definitely make the bodice and the base skirt, but I have not yet decided on the butterfly bustle yet.  It would be so lovely, but I worry about the train in the crowd.

The skirt plan: I will make this skirt with the bustled back and ruffle. I plan on only adding the ruffle to the sides and the back of the skirt.  The front of the skirt I plan to make in different silk to appear as an underskirt and will add narrow partial front pieces of the main silk as a false opening. 
TV261-R 1885 Four-gore Underskirt
 If I have time, I would like to make the detachable Butterfly Train.  I just dont know if I will have time before this event and again trains and crowds are bad together.
TV361 Late 1880s Butterfly Detachable Train
 For the bodice, I really wanted the triangular neck opening, so I have decided to use the 1883 Tail Bodice.  I plan to use the short tails and 3/4 sleeves for this particular dress.
TV462 1883 Tail Bodice

For fabrics, I bought silk from Dharma Trading company.  I had originally wanted  to use silk velvet, but they were out when I went to order.  I settled on the 19.5mm Black Charmeuse as a substitute.  Although this is one of the heaviest silks they carry it is still super light weight!  More light weight than anything I have made Victorian with before.  This makes me nervous but we will see how it goes.  I also rummaged around in the stash and found some other silks for accents that should work well.  For example, this sheer silk below to fill in the false front in the skirt.
Sheer silk with lining
To start with I cut the front panel of the skirt out of some of the stash silk.  This silk is see through so it is lined with black cotton.  I treated the sheer silk and cotton as one  piece and darted it as per the pattern instructions. I then prepared some double sided Charmeuse silk pieces for the false opening.  I then stitched all these pieces together to be treated as one for the front of the skirt.  For the start of the decorations, I made tubes out of the black Charmeuse and made bows.  The bows are hand stitched to the skirt to keep them from moving, but the tubes are left free  until they meet the false sides to give the impression of being separate pieces.  Here are a couple of pictures so far!  I took pictures both with and without the flash.  No flash is truer to the colors, but the details or lost.  The flash image shows the details much better.

Skirt front no flash

Skirt front with flash

Steampunk Spectacular 4

Last weekend I was lucky enough to attend Steampunk Spectacular, a local steampunk event.  I love this event for a couple of reasons.  The first is that it is really laid back and relaxing and the second is that the location is spectacular.  It is held at the Mine Shaft Tavern, which has a real train, old mining equipment and a cool theater for the shows. Oh and the food at the tavern is excellent as well.

The atmosphere at this event is always amazing and I have a good time every time I go.  The small town that the event is held in, Madrid New Mexico, is also really cool.  
There are lots of small shops, including an amazing little chocolate shop, to peruse.  A good friend of mine joined my husband and I this year for her first steampunk event, although you would not know it was her first from her very cool costume.

Anyway, here are a bunch of pictures!  None of these pictures were taken by me, they were uploaded to the event facebook page or to a local costuming group facebook page.  If the owner of the photos wants them removed, please send me a message and I will remove them (ditto if you are the subject of one of these photos).

First some images of myself, my husband and my friend. My husband and I wore our new leather masks and I wore my new light up flower crown.  I was really pleased with the mask, although they are really hard to see out of, and very please with the lights for the flowers.  The motion control really worked!  I wish I would have had more time to finish the rest of the costume, I really want a corset that matched and I did not like the shirt I made.  I would also like to make a skeleton turtleneck undershirt to go with the stockings I am wearing.  I suppose I will need to work on the details more for next time!

Now for photos of other people's cool stuff.  There were so many cool costumes and people.  The performers included the Clan Tynker, who are a family circus act and always a blast to see.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

A light up flower crown

Worbla Flowers
To go with my sugar skull plague doctor mask, I wanted a flower crown and I was thinking it would be really fun if the flowers could light up.

To make the flowers able to light up clearly I made them out of  transparent Worbla thermoplastic.  This stuff is really fun to work with.  You simply heat it with a heat gun and shape it.  Basically, I cut shapes like you would out of felt to make roses and heated them to shape them together.  I made both large and small roses, 4 of each.

My husband has been learning to add more complex electronics to our costume props so he thought it would be cool if the light up flowers would change colors based off of the movement of my head.  He designed programming and circuitry to do this.  The head motion is sensed by a triple axis accelerometer, the programming is uploaded to an Arduino mini, the lighting is done by 8 Flora RGB Smart NeoPixels, a cheap switch and the power is a 9 volt battery.  In the picture to the right, the small square board is the accelerometer, the larger board is the arduino.  Both of these pieces are much smaller than the 9 volt battery.

He used this same set up to light up a crystal in the top of his steampunk cane.  The major differences are that the cane used a NeoPixel ring and that the calibration was different.  He can turn the cane upside down and my head cant turn that far.  Basically the motion of my head causes the lights to change color and the calibration makes even small movements change the color of the roses.
hat base side
hat upside down to show dart
hat front

I made a hat base out of 2 layers of felt and one layer of really stiff, heavy Pellon interfacing.  Basically this is a very elongated oval.  I darted the back to make it fit my head.  I then wired the edge and covered the wire with bias tape.

hat back

One the base was made I stitched all the circuitry to the hat and hid the circuitry with faux rose leaves.  I then stitched the clear flowers to the hat base and accented the base with small red and large white roses.  The three roses at the back hide the arduino, accelerometer and battery.

Hat front

hat side

hat top

 Here are some pictures is low lighting with the hat lit up.  The hat does all the colors of the rainbow and more....but the circuitry is very sensitive and it was hard to find the right angle to show all the colors.  This hat is so much fun to wear and the NeoPixels are so bright!