Monday, October 31, 2011

All Hallows' Eve (Boo!)

Making some sweet potato chips - yum!
There is so much to share! October is my busiest month. Aside from the costuming projects and a couple of small commission pieces, my family has more anniversaries and birthdays in October than any other month in the year. I have been cooking here and cooking there, and running here and running there! And eating and eating, like a horse. Not to mention the festivals and fairs going on every week, my favorite being the Circleville Pumpkin show. Oh yes, and I finally finished up my Victorian ensemble and had Maria take some pictures of me. Please let me share!

The Circleville Pumpkin Show

Molded pumpkins - aren't these so cool?

Me - in the middle of all the action (always!)

Circleville Pumpkin Show from the Farris Wheel

My new hand-blown glass pumpkin by Jack Pine (I get one every show)

Victorian Gown

I could have smiled - lol!

"Trick or treat, smell my feet, gimme something good to eat..."

Boo! Happy Halloween and happy sewing!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

A Lady's Victorian Top Hat

~The Ladies' Tipsy Tea 2011 - Elma and me~
So many of the lady's top hats that I have seen for sale online or at craft shows, or created by a costumer for her historically inspired wardrobe, are so beautiful. I greatly admire the decoration of this era's hats because they are so elaborate, much like the lady's costume of the time. For the late Victorian ensemble that I am currently constructing, I wanted to make a matching hat, and I can tell you that I am no artist when it comes to millinery - lol! However, last May, Tonia and PJ put together a whole outfit for me (in record time!), including gloves, a fan, a parasol, a gown, and a beautiful hat. Using the top hat that PJ created for me as my inspiration, I created my own - take a look!

1). First I bought an inexpensive felt top hat at the Flower Factory - this is the season to buy them, too. The Flower Factory does carry the top hat and the derby all year around; however, Halloween preparations are in full swing, so you can pick up a basic hat at any major retailer that carries Halloween costumes and accessories. I paid $5...

Basic black felt top hat

2.) I added matching trim used on my gown around the crown of the hat, then secured the same lace used in my gown to the brim - both the braided trim and the lace were tacked in place with hot glue...

3). One of the key attributes of the Victorian hat is that there is always one outstanding feature (the centerpiece) - in my case, I chose to create a large bouquet of black foliage and feathers on the left side of the hat...

4). Flowers are another very common decoration to Victorian hats - and honestly, before I even hot glued one flower in place, I fiddled and fiddled with arranging the flowers this way and that until I created a combination that I liked...

5). After a couple hours of thoughtful decoration, arrangement, and careful gluing, here is the finished result! 

I hope that my creation helps inspire you to create your own beautiful hat, like PJ's beautiful hat inspired me! 

Blessings and happy sewing!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

A Bodice Correction

As you know, I have been working with several Truly Victorian patterns over the last month in order to write several pattern reviews for my collaborative blog, The Emerald Parlor. I decided that in order to give a fair assessment of the patterns, I'd follow the instructions just as they were written and construct the garments just as they were drafted. I have had good results on the petticoats, underskirts, and overskirts. It's with the bodices (Truly Victorian uses the same block design for several of their bodice patterns) that I have discovered an issue of contention: the shoulder width and shape, and the armscye shape. Allow me to demonstrate:

1). Here, the sleeves are clearly too short, even for the average 5'6" woman (these sleeves are meant to be full-length - they are 4 inches too short on me from the wrist and I'm 5'9"). Also, there is this rounding of the shoulders that is not correct in late Victorian costume where the bodice is tightly fitted (the issue with the vest front of the bodice - it's too short - is my blunder and not a Truly Victorian pattern defect; I got a little happy with the scissors). 

2. Notice the deprivation in the sleeve length and width - I added 4-1/2 inches to the length (1/2 inch for seam allowances) and trimmed the overall width of the sleeve by 2 inches to give a snugger, more accurate fit to the arm. Further, the sleeve top was too wide, creating an oddly placed pleat in the armscye - I removed about 3 inches from the sleeve top to alleviate the need for a pleat.

3. I detached the sleeves from the bodice to better illustrate the issues regarding the shape and width of the shoulder and the shape of the armscyes - they have more of an early Victorian (Antebellum/Civil War) era construction. The wide and rounded shoulders created a "funneling" or tapering effect of the armscyes (noted with green arrows) - with the sleeves attached, the shoulders at the armscyes looked awful.

4). Here are the images of the corrected bodice - note the apparent changes in the sleeve length and width, the shortening of the shoulder width, and the crisp, smooth shape of the armscye. This is how a late Victorian fitted bodice should structurally look. 

Now that the shape and construction of the bodice has been corrected, I can finish the aesthetic details of the gown! :)

Happy sewing!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

The Old West Festival

Saturday was my first visit to the Old West Festival in Williamsburg, Ohio (just outside of Mt. Orb). Despite the very chilly and wet weather, I had a great time visiting all the shops, seeing my old merchant friends, and talking to the festival owner about vending at the show next year. This is the Old West Festival's fourth year in the run and it is growing quickly. Because it is a family oriented event, it is a friendly show - there is plenty of food, music, and entertainment for everyone. October 8-9 is the last weekend for this season's show; it is only $10 general admission with special admission prices for children. Here are a few pictures from the show:

Crowd gathering for the target shooting show

Me and Annie (I can't go anywhere...)

Main Street

Me and Marie

Wes, the town smithy (Black Flag Forge)

Tonia, expressing her opinion of my photography between bites of funnel cake...

One of many talented musicians...

The Old West Festival is a juried show and they are always looking for talented crafters to add to their merchant family - if interested, please visit the festival's crafting link for additional information. I hope to see you there! 

Happy sewing!