May 20, 2014

Expect Much? - Updated

If I tell you I have tickets to the Monty Python reunion show (in London, baby!) and have just bought 5 metres of scarlet fabric, can you guess what costume I'm making next?
No one will be expecting what this fabric is made into...

UPDATED - since clearly no one does know what the heck I'm talking about...

So as I'm going to the Monty Python reunion show I thought I'd make the iconic Spanish Inquisition outfits, as per piccie below,

who appeared on the Monty Python skit shows way back when. Their catch phrase is "No One expects the Spanish Inquisition"...

May 14, 2014

Historical Sew Fortnightly 2014 - Challenge #8: UFOs & PHDs

My UFO (Un-Finished Object) for the Historical Sew Fortnightly 2014 - Challenge #8: UFOs & PHDs is the Truly Victorian 1873 Polonaise which I started on well over a year ago.

The pattern came together like a dream, even back then with my rusty haven't-sewn-since-highschool skills, until it came to the buttonholes and sewing on the sleeves...

Sure, being well-versed in YouTube tutorials, a stack of library books, in theory I knew how to attach sleeves and make buttonholes, but somehow I was filled with a dread akin to that of a last-minute supermarket run, the day before a public holiday, and so, being scared (and a bit spoiled), I stamped my feet and said, No-won't, too hard!

Sleeve ready to attach...but how?

And thus, I wimped out and this lovely top was hidden in the back wardrobe.

UFO - no sleeves, no buttons. Maybe it could just a be a Pirate vest???

I know I am not alone in my sleeve-attachment-phobia. What is it about sewing on sleeves that seems (cos it ain't really) so hard? Trying to force all that material until the sewing machine arm--not being able to see properly--fabric gets bunched up--argh--now I've sewed a pinch in the fabric--have to do it again!!!

But gentle Readers, there is hope! The answer lies in going back to basics, ie, hand-sewing.

I learned this when sewing my 1888 outfit. Simply prep a doubled-thread onto a needle, wax the thread - waxing is super important, it stops the thread from tangling when you sew.

[>>>How do you wax thread? Take your all-ready-to-go doubled-thread and a beeswax candle, press your thumb on the knot, thus holding the thread against the wax, and with your freehand pull the thread tails upward, so the threads slide between the wax and thumb. Do this twice. Yes, it's that simple.]

Then with sleeve pinned in position to the bodice, back stitch the two parts together. A curved needle helps, but is not essential. Not only does this create a surprisingly strong seam, but I have found hand-sewing quite relaxing.

And so, now my UFO is finished!

The Challenge: Challenge #8: UFOs & PHDs
Fabric: some kind of jacquard, with some kind of brushed broadcloth, maybe. Full disclosure: this started out as a tablecloth and a pair of curtains.

Pattern: Truly Victorian 1873 Polonaise
Year: 1873
Notions: thread, quite a bit of iron-in interfacing

How historically accurate is it? Excluding fabric, 85%, the pattern is very historically accurate (less so with my alterations) but the construction is a 50-50 blend of what you should do, and making-do

Hours to complete: Lost count, started in early 2013...

First worn: Not worn yet

Total cost: $15 - $20

One last note: Being that I am a tinkerer and a meddler, and can never simply follow a pattern,  here's what the Truly Victorian 1873 Polonaise should look like.

Whereas I have shortened the bodice length and altered the curved hemline to a double-point, which you can (kind of) see in this construction picture.

Wait! What about the buttonholes? 

Confession time. I still haven't learned that skill, but I have learned of a wonderful invention called Hook and Eye Tape...

May 6, 2014

Button Hoarding: an Incurable disease?

I was recently given a very generous gift: the button collection that belonged to a friend's mother.

I am sure anyone with a crafty bent, or who is like myself, quite possibly part magpie, can imagine the afternoon I spent spreading them all out, stacking, sorting and admiring. The experience positively brought out the Gollum in me. My precious!

Among the notables (pictured below) were Bakelite, glass and metal filigree (possibly Edwardian??), which was my fav. *sigh* So sparkly...
My Vintage button collection  - One thing is fer sure, they don't make 'em like they used to!

Because I make historical costumes I am sure I'll be able to make good use of these tiny treasures.
But true to the nature of button collections there were a lot of singles. It got me wondering,  what else can you make with buttons?

Here are a few cool things I found via the interwebs.

Source: Izzwizz Creations

Decorate Cards -  this tutorial also shows you how to turn plain buttons into decorative ones!

source: The Dreamstress

The Dreamstress has an excellent tut on aging modern metal buttons
Tutorial: How to ‘antique’ cheap gold buttons & jewellery

Lilly Pilly Blog - Make a Button Necklace

If anyone else has some clever ideas for button up-cycling please let me know :)