Thursday, November 26, 2015

Nightmare before Christmas Tea

The first wearing of Lock, Shock and Barrel was to a themed tea party held by a local tea room, The Ivy Tearoom.  They hold one event a month and the 2 I have been lucky enough to go to have been wonderful.  Barrel's mother joined us as Santa to complete our group.  Very few people dressed as specific characters but many people dressed in the vein of Nightmare Before Christmas so it was so much fun to see everyone dressed up.  We did not take as many pictures as we should have, but here are a few we did manage to take. 

Us ready to leave
Barrel tormenting Santa

A very cool Sally and Jack

The costumed crowd together

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Nightmare Before Christmas: Shock's hat

Examining the stills from Nightmare Before Christmas that I posted earlier, you can see the Shock has an absolutely ridiculous huge hat.  I was worried that using normal millinery methods would be insufficient to produce this hat and began to search the internet for an easy way to make this shape.  In doing so I came across Fosshape.  Fosshape is a buckram alternative that feels like felt and is sew-able, heat shape-able and dye-able.  I figured this was a perfect alternative to creating Shock's hat. 

I bought 2 yards of Fosshape and a very large Styrofoam cone for the basis of the hat.  Fosshape shrinks when heated, so I cut a 2 cone shapes larger than the cone out of the Fosshape and sewed them together.  I then turned the cone right-side out to hide the stitching and heat shrunk it to the cone. 
Styrofoam cone
Fosshape sewn cone
 Fosshape can be wet or dry formed using either a steamer or a heat gun.  I did not have a steamer so I used my heat gun.  Here I found a major problem, Fosshape can burn if heated too directly and the burns result in holes in the Fosshape......the heat gun caused this problem repeatedly and I ended up with a large number of holes in my hat.

After the cone was formed, I cut a large round piece for the hat brim and attempted to heat shrink to stiffen the hat brim.  Heat shrinking a flat large disk was really hard and I ended up with many holes and a brim that was not stiff enough!  I attempted to fix this by wiring the brim edge and hiding the wire with a length of Fosshape.  After this, I dyed both the crown and the brim.  The Fosshape took dye fairly well, but the damaged areas died less strongly and the dye bath weakened the already floppy brim. 

Fosshsape repair
Here are some photos of the damaged areas.  You can see in the first one, I patched a large hole by heating down a small triangle of Fossshape. 

Small pin prick holes due to heat

I did end up with a completed hat in time to wear it for the first wearing of Lock, Shock and Barrel, however I think I will redo this hat in the near future.  I am thinking about simply adding more wire to the base of this one and then fabric covering the whole thing, but have not decided yet.
Completed hat
Overall, I like Fosshape but it is a steep learning curve.  I do think I will get a steamer for the next time I work with this material as I have heard that it is far easier to control the heat with a steamer.  I am excited to try the Fosshape over some of my wood hat blocks.  I really think it would provide a great way to make hats in fun custom colors I cannot get in felt. 

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Embroidery for an SCA sash

This is a project I held off on sharing until it was presented.  A friend of mine, Baroness Diana, asked me if I would like to help prepare a sash for the Barony of al-Barran to use for their A&S champion.  I was the al-Barran A&S champion a number of years ago and there was a sash then.  However, it has disappeared sometime in the past and a new one was needed.  I was so excited to help with this project, every year I am in awe of the work the champions do and was so excited to help make something for them to wear.  Baroness Diana is an awesome seamstress and wanted to do the final construction. She also has experience with creating sashes, which I lack, so she masterminded the design, the size and the shape of the piece.  My job was to prepare 2 embroidered roundels 3.5 inches across that could be appliqued to the sash.

Each roundel was silk and metal thread embroidery on a white linen ground. The first roundel was the A&S symbol.  I did the border in stem stitch and the background in basket weave in blue silk.  The arch and the candle were outlined in black silk using stem stitch.  The arch is filled with silver chain stitch using a thin silver passing thread.  The candle is done in couchwork using heavy metal threads couched with cotton sewing thread. 
The second roundel was the Baronial scorpion symbol.  The roundel is outlined in stem stitch, the background is filled with split stitch.  The chevron is filled with a couched silver twisted thread to give it some texture and set it apart from the scorpion.  The scorpion is outlined in heavy gold thread couched with cotton thread. The fill in the scorpion is satin stitch done in gold passing thread. 
The roundels were then cut out and hand sewn to the black linen for the sash.  The roundel were first stitched down with cotton thread and then the white linen edge was hidden under couched gold and silver heavy metal thread. 

Finally here is an image of the 2 roundels together on the black linen for the sash.  At this point, I handed this piece back to Baroness Diana to do all the construction and final details.
Unfortunately, I could not attend the event where this was presented, but Baroness Diana was able to deliver it in time.  I am so happy to have helped with this project. I will say I completely underestimated the amount of time I needed for these roundels, they took months longer than I expected but I am still happy with how they turned out!

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Nightmare Before Christmas: Lock, Shock and Barrel Masks

The masks for Lock, Shock and Barrel have really accentuated features that dont look like any mask I know of.   I could not figure out a way to adequately modify a readily available mask to create the correct features so I needed to make the masks myself.  To do this, I decided to make clay bases and then form Worbla over the bases.  I will try to show how this process worked here but feel free to ask questions.  This is only the second time I have used Worbla so it was quite the learning experience for me.

So I would have a rough placement for nose, eyes and mouth, I bought cheap plastic masks from the hobby store.  To prevent the clay from deforming the mask shape, I cut hard foam to support the mask base and duct taped it into the form.  I also used this foam to alter the depth of the mask forms as the cheap forms sit very far forward on the face.  I then used cheap flexible foam to alter the face shape as needed and again attached this foam with duct tape. You can see the basic alterations on the mask to the left.

Once the base was ready, I began to add the clay.  In this case, I used Celluclay.  Celluclay is a cheap recycled paper mache which I often see referred to as paper clay.  It mixes easily and dries overnight.  It is chunky when first applied but can be easily smoothed out with a wet finger.  Here is the paper clay right after addition and before smoothing.  As you can see it is pretty rough, but easy to shape.  Another advantage to this stuff is that you can sand it.  It does dry really hard so sanding is not easy, doing as much smoothing as possible while wet is much easier.

Here are the finished mask bases for Lock, Shock and Barrel.

I let the clay dry overnight and the next day I formed the Worbla.  In this case, I decided to use Worbla Black Art.  This is the newest Worbla and it is supposed to be smoother in finish than the regular Worbla.  I have never used the regular Worbla but was I thinking smoother would be better.  This stuff is pretty easy to use, you just heat it with a heat gun until it is soft and then shape it over your form.  The Worbla can be reheated repeatedly so you can keep applying heat and smoothing until you get the shape you
want. I used some of my clay tools to help smooth the worbla.  I did learn not to press too hard, the worbla can rip easily when it is warm. Once I was happy with the base, I added details.  The teeth for both Lock and Barrel were cut separately of Worbla.  For Barrel, the teeth were then heated and pressed onto the mask base.  I used a dental tool (purchased cheaply from a flea market) to carefully indent between Barrel's teeth.  I also used the dental tools to carefully indent the 2 nostrils.

Once the Worbla was cool, I popped it off the clay and used an exacto knife to cut out the nostrils and the eyes. 
Here you can see the completed base, the excess around the edge was cut of with scissors and saved for future use!

Once the base was cut out, I used scraps of Worbla to attach D-rings to the masks as a way to allow elastic to be attached later.  This method worked pretty well, but you really need to press hard to mold the scrap to the base.  Since the elastic is under some pressure, we did have 2 fail and have to be glued back into place.

Lock was completed in much the same way as the Barrel mask.  The mouth was indented using the same clay tool and the teeth were cut out and place in the mouth.  In this case I heated the teeth in place rather than heating them first and then applying them.  There were just too many teeth with too precise placement to add them one at a time.

Once the masks were formed, they were coated with a primer and then spray painted for a base color.  The spray paint was allowed to dry overnight.

After drying, the details were painted with acrylic craft paint and then sealed with a spray sealant.  You can see the D-rings on Lock in this picture. 

While the Lock and Barrel masks went pretty well, Shock turned out to be a real pain. The very big nose caused a bunch of rips in the Worbla while shaping and the thinned out Worbla from fitting around the nose tore both near the eyes and around the mouth.  To repair this, I added a reinforcement piece of Worbla to both the mouth and the nose.  Doing this really affected the smooth shape, since the reinforcement was readily visible.  To smooth this out, I used wood filler.  This stuff can be smoothed onto the Worbla and dried overnight.  Once dry, the wood filler can be sanded down to make a smooth surface.  You can see all the repairs I had to make on this mask!

Once the repairs were completed, the mask was finished just like the other 2.  Here is the final image of the Shock mask and one taken at an angle to show how really big that nose is!


Sunday, November 15, 2015

Nightmare Before Christmas: Lock, Shock and Barrel Intial planning

A group of us have decided we want to create Lock, Shock and Barrel costumes.  To start with, I grabbed some images of the 3 to start planning.

 While the outfits are amazingly simple. the masks, shoes and Shock's hat are a bit tricky. 

For the first round, I decided to focus on getting the masks right and the costumes bases and then we will work on improving the costumes each time we wear them. 

For Lock, I bought a red long sleeve T-shirt and matching fabric for the pants and tail.  I made the pants as simple elastic waist pants.  The tail is a tube with a triangle sewn to it.  I simply hand-stitched the tail to bottom of the shirt. 

Shock was a bit trickier for sewing. While the dress is really simple A line, the scalloped edging took a bit of work.  I still managed to sew the dress in one day. 

For the masks, I planned to make the bases in clay and then use Worbla to create the masks.  To create Shock's hat, I planned to use Fosshape since it should be stiff enough to hold the very tall shape.  I have used Worbla once before, but Fosshape is a totally new material for me.  We will see how it goes......

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Quickly Decorating a Silk Fan

On Halloween I was going to tea with a good friend.  I love going to tea but am always too hot in tea rooms.  I decided this made a perfect opportunity to try a tutorial on the Dharma Trading Website and decorate a silk fan.  The original tutorial is here.  I basically followed the tutorial with one small exception, I could not find PermaWriter markers anywhere.  Dharma still carries them but I made the decision to make the fan the night before I need it (I had previously purchased fans and the FabricMate markers from Dharma Trading Company).  I ended up using a LePen Permanent marker, it worked beautifully and was available from a local hobby shop.  It took me 2.5 hours to draw the design and fill it in with the FabricMate markers.  The fan needed to dry for 24hours and then it becomes permanent even without heat setting it. I really enjoyed this quick project and will probably make one with a less modern look to use for other situations.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Trip to Colorado and wearing the Victorian Mourning Dress

My husband and I went on a get away for our Anniversary to Colorado and did a few fun costumy things while there. 

The first night we drove about 8 hours in the rain to Fort Collins. Fort Collins has a very cool little pub called Dungeons & Drafts.  The food is very good and the drinks are excellent, as well as themed for geeky, nerdy things. For example, I had a Butter Beer (Harry Potter) and a Frost Mage (World of Warcraft) for drinks and my husband had The Cap (Captain America) and a sonic screwdriver (Doctor Who).  The whole place is reminiscent of a Dungeons and Dragons Inn and they encourage people to dress up in any costume.  In fact you get 10% off if you do.  Finally they have a game library from which you can borrow games to play with your friends while you eat.This is a really fun place and we would love to go back again.
Dungeons and Drafts
Game Library
 The main reason for the trip however, was to go to the Emma Crawford Wake and the Manitou Springs Coffin Races.  These are annual events in Manitou Springs.  The Wake is held at the Miramont Castle and is basically a short dinner theater that moves from room to room in the castle.  It is historical and intended to educate about wakes in late Victorian times and the effect on the whole household.  After the wake, dinner is served.  Many guests dress up, so I wore the full Victorian Mourning gown and my husband wore his full Victorian.  Unfortunately, we only got a background shot with my husband in full dress.  We also did not take pictures during the wake to avoid distracting the other guests or the actors.  Still it was a lovely evening.
Men's basic without the hat and coat
Back of my dress and my husband in full dress

Dress back
Dress front
 Since we planned on attending the Coffin Races the next day, we stayed in a very cool Victorian Bed and Breakfast called the Avenue Hotel. I highly recommend this place, the breakfast was amazing, the rooms are really beautiful and the owners are wonderful.  We were so comfortable there and had such a lovely time.  A friend of mine and myself wandered around the house and took pictures. Also the front yard was wonderfully decorated for the coffin races so we took some spooky pictures.

The next day we had our amazing breakfast from the Avenue hotel and then went off to tea at the Miramont Castle and to watch coffin racing.  The basic idea is that the coffin (shape and style up to the team) must contain an "Emma" (again the dress for Emma is up to the team) and must be pushed by 4 people.  The teams run in heats of 2 coffins and the winner has the best time.  Some people did go for speed but most went for style.  For example, there as a Viking entry with the coffin as a ship and a giant sail, which added a great deal resistance for running.  Other really crazy ones were: Khaleesi from Game of Thrones in the coffin pushed by 3 large dragons (wings are also bad for running and the heads appeared really hard to see out of) and Drogo; the fast food guys (again Jack in Box giant ball head is not good for vision or running); the news crew with news helicopter coffin; as well as lots of amazing Halloween themed groups.  Also many of the crowd were dressed up.  I tried to get pictures but there were way too many people to get good clear shots of the coffins.  However the whole event was simply a ton of fun and I hope to go again.

Victorian Mourning Gown Bodice

The bodice was relatively simple and was fairly straight forward, thankfully the Truly Victorian Pattern was easy to work with.  I made a quick mock up and discovered the the neckline had to be lowered and the collar redrafted. However the rest of the bodice fit really well and went together fairly easily.  The only hard part is the beautiful pleats that make the tails in the bit were a bit difficult to set, but so worth it.  The bodice is fully boned on the seam lines and on the darts and has a waist tape to keep the back firmly pulled to my waist above the bustle. This waist tape also prevents the bodice from riding up when worn.

Once the bodice was together, I stitched a bunch of beaded trim purchased from M&J Trimming onto the bodice.  The three appliques on the back above the pleats and the one in the center back below the collar are left over from the trim on the skirt.
Bodice back
Bodice front
 A quick note on construction, I decided to flat line all the pieces and then use cotton bias tape to finish all the edges on the inside of the bodice.  This made for really really nice edges, but lots of hand sewing.  This bodice took me much longer than any other I have made, but the smooth edges were so worth it.  The only area of the bodice with an additional lining is the tails on the bodice which in addition to flat lining in cotton, have a silk lining as well in case they flip up while wearing this bodice.

Here is a good detail shot of the trim.
Finally, I made the sleeves out of some of the left over semi-sheer ruched silk used on the false underskirt.  This fabric was stretchy so I made up the sleeves and then altered them until they fit right.  I then used some of the sheer stuff left over from the skirt ruffle and made some quick ruffles for the sleeve edges.