Mar 27, 2017

Making the Bodice | 1770's Robe a la Polonaise

Today's post is about the making of the bodice of my 1770's Robe a la Polonaise. In general, 18th century dresses had much more simple bodice shapes, which makes construction a little more simple and the actual construction of this dress went pretty quick. I'd like to note that I did not take a historical approach to sewing this dress. This was partially due to lack of knowledge as well as lack of time. The majority of the dress is machine sewn but in order to make it look a little more authentic I chose to top stitch most of the seams by hand.

I draped the pattern for this dress myself, based off of a pattern from Janet Arnold's Patterns of Fashion 1: Englishwomen's Dresses and Their Construction C. 1660-1860. Below is the final mock up. After I was satisfied with the mock up I patterned it and was ready to get started on the real thing.

The fabric I used was this wonderful reproduction cotton print from Colonial Williamsburg, which I bought online. I purchased 5 yards and used up all of it.

I cut out all the pattern pieces from my fashion fabric as well as my lining fabric, which was a basic cotton muslin.

After the pieces were cut I drew the boning channels onto the muslin/lining. There was two on the front bodice piece and one on each of the other two bodice pieces on the side seams.

For the boning channels near the seams, I made sure to mark them 5/8" away from the edge so there would be enough room for my 1/2" seam allowance and a little extra. Once the channels were marked I laid my boning channels (I used bias tape) over top and stitched them down by machine.

I then proceeded to sew all of the bodice pieces together, using a 1/2" seam allowance, and ironed it all flat.

I proceeded to sew the fashion fabric bodice pieces together, again with a 1/2" seam allowance.

Once all the seams were sewn, I ironed the bodice. Instead of pressing all of the seams open flat, I ironed them toward one side, towards the front, with the exception of the center back seam. I did this so when I top stitched the seams it would appear to have the bulk that would be there if I had actually sewn it by hand.

After that I pinned and stitched the lining to the fashion fabric with right sides together all the way around the neckline.

Once it was stitched I clipped all of the curved edges so it would lay flat when turned right side out.

Once I had turned the bodice right side out, I ironed it flat and began my top stitching by hand around the neckline. I did this with a basic running stitch, making sure my stitches were small and had a small amount of tension so it looked like it was actually holding something together.

 It was also at this time that I top stitched all of the other seams on the bodice as well. Looking back, this would have been better to do before sewing the lining in so the stitching wouldn't be visible on the lining.

At this point I placed my boning into the boding channels.

And that's it for this post! I'll be sharing another post about the rest of the Polonaise soon.

Mar 22, 2017

The Completed 1770's Polonaise Teaser Photo's

My 1770's Robe a la Polonaise is done, minus a few accessories and a good ironing. Yay! I'm working on editing photos, writing up blog posts about the making, and sorting through video footage, but I really wanted to share a few photos before then.

Next for me, figuring out how to achieve giant 18th century hair...

Mar 20, 2017

Emerald City Comic Con 2017 Photos

Emerald City Comic Con at the beginning of this month was fantastic and I wanted to share some of the photos I took. I was focusing on taking video most of the day, so I don't have a ton of photo's, but you can view my vlog here.

We saw these great Historical Disney Princesses. I was particularly impressed with Cinderella's dress.

Also, I saw these guys a couple times that day. They were just perfect!

My favorite parts of ECCC include:
  • Meeting Timothy Zahn and having him sign my book. He was super nice :D
  • Seeing (but not meeting) Peter Mayhew
  • The Guardians of the Galaxy panel
  • Seeing all the amazing coplays
  • Getting to see all of the fantastic and creative art in the Artists Alley
  • Wandering the Show Floor

What's your favorite part of Comic Con?

Mar 13, 2017

Costume Review | Beauty and the Beast (2014)

Last week my sister and I watched Beauty and the Beast (2014), which is a French production of the classic story we all know and love thanks to Disney. I didn't know much about this adaptation going in except that I had seen several of the costumes on Pinterest and I was interested to see it since the new Disney live action version is coming out soon (which I have been less than thrilled by costume wise from what we have seen in trailers so far).

[Semi]Brief Synopsis:
The story appears to be set in the 1810's through the 1820's and is set in a strongly historically based but still fantasy world. It's is about a once wealthy family that has now appears to have lost all of their money on a ship that sunk in the middle of the ocean which forces them to move out of their high society house in the city to a plain country cottage.

Bell's father discovers the Beast's castle on his way home from the local tavern and on his way out he picks a rose. The beast attacks him then and basically tells him that in exchange for the rose he demands a life. He goes home and Belle decides that since she is the outcast of the family/has no future she should go.

So she goes and becomes the beasts prisoner. He provides her with a new dress every day and he has a very strict schedule of when to eat so she can't run off (or something like that). She has no interest in him and actually fears him. Oh, and there's a pool of magical water in her bedroom that heals wounds. Fun right?

At night Belle has dreams (thanks to the magically water it seems) of her running up to a mirror/portal thing which shows her the beasts past. He was practically Gaston in all but name (actually, I don't know what his name was in the film so maybe he was Gaston) and had a beautiful wife/girlfriend/fiance/I don't really know what because they never said. But they were in love.

Eventually, Belle makes a deal with Beastie that she can have one last day with her family in exchange for a dance. He accepts, they dance (this was probably my favorite scene in the whole film), he asks if she could ever love him, she screams in his face, he leaves. Er, it happened sort of like that anyways.

Point is, she got to go back home to her family, stuff happens, and she returns in time to save Beastie, who has just been shot. She and her brothers (they're so useful!) carry him into the magical water in her bedroom where he transforms back into human form because Belle somehow changed her mind and admitted that she loved him. I have no idea at what point she turned from hating him to loving him, but there you go.

Anyways, that's my "brief" synopsis. A lot happened in this film considering how slow it felt. My overall thoughts are that this film is visually stunning, but story wise, it moves rather slow and was really confusing. But every shot in the film looked like it came out of a magazine. I mean, just look at this!

Now, onto the actual point of this post, the costumes.I'm just going to be reviewing Belle's dresses because they were the main event costume wise and this post is going to be long enough with just her dresses.

The costumes for this film were designed by Costume Designer Pierre-Yves Gayraud. All of the costumes that Belle wears have a heavy Tudor influence, which I love, while the costumes of Belle's sisters and the rest of her family seem to be inspired more by the 1810's-1820's.

Belle's first ballgown she get's from Beastie is this cream silk/brocade gown. While it's definitly a work of art, I really didn't care for it. The sleeves are kinda weird, fabulous but weird, the skirt gathering looks like honeycomb to me and the neckline looks strange with the structure of the bodice of the lower half. I was glad that this one only got a little bit of screen time. But I really do like the fabric choice and her crown.

Next, is her emerald green, quilted velvet gown. Just look at it. It's stunning, isn't it? I love the Tudor influences on the bodice and the jewels, but my favorite part of this dress (besides the color) are the sleeves. Aren't they beautiful? Also, her hair fascinates me. I'm so glad they actually did something with her hair in this film because too many movies have their historical/fantasy fashions with the hair down in modern curls, which completely ruins the look and takes you out of the setting. I appreciate that they were able to do something kind of wacky, but subtle. It's enough to realize that this is a fantasy world while not drawing to much attention to it.

This next dress is my favorite. It's an aqua blue silk dress with these wonderful fluffy sleeves and the bodice is covered in a lace cutout in a matching color. I love the accessories on this costume: the collar and matching headband. I think my favorite part of this dress though is the color.

Now, I have to say that this next dress has me really impressed with the color. If you've ever tired to photograph something red, they know that it's really, really hard to do. But somehow they managed to make a giant red dress and still film it.  I am thoroughly impressed.

As for the design of the dress itself, this one was the last dress she wears in the movie and during the climax of the film. My sister really loved it, but I liked her earlier two dresses better. The only real reason for this is because I like softer colors and the bright red was a bit harsh, but design wise I really liked it. The skirt has a flowy top layer of what looks like chiffon, and the sleeves are relatively simple compared to her previous dresses. As for that giant necklace, I'm not a big fan. I feel like it's too big and weighs her down, especially with her hair in the pulled back style that it is in. If feels a bit out of balance.

My rating for this film as a whole is only 3 out of 5 stars, but for costumes I give it 4.5 and a full 5 stars to the art department. I love how the costume designer was able to create costumes that fit into a completely fantasy world but still manage to ground the costumes with familiar shapes and designs from history.

Have you seen this version of Beauty and the Beast? What's your favorite adaptation of Beauty and the Beast?

Mar 9, 2017

1770's Polonaise Progress Report

My Polonaise is coming along and it finally looks like something wearable! I can't say how much I love this fabric, which is a reproduction print I bought online from Colonial Williamsburg. Isn't it fantastic?!

This has been a fun project so far, and even though I'm not taking a historically accurate approach with my sewing methods (I machine sewed most of it and did a topstitch by hand to make it at least look a little more accurate) I think it's looking pretty good and I'm down to just a few more steps before it should be finished.

Here's what I have left:
  • Hem the skirt
  • Add ties and buttons to hold up the skirt
  • Add the sleeve ruffles
  • Add trim

When I went to cut my fabric I realized I had forgotten to purchase extra for trim. *facepalm* I'm not quite sure at this point what I'll be doing to remedy that, but since there's so many colors in the fabric I should have a lot of options. I'd also like to add a ruffle to the hem of my green petticoat, but alas I had less fabric than I thought and don't have enough to trim that either. Clearly I thought this out really well...

I've been photographing and videoing the making of this dress, so as long as the photo's/footage looks good you should be seeing what has gone into making this sometime after it's all finished.

Mar 6, 2017

5 Things I Learned from My First Trip to Comic Con

This weekend I went to my first ever Comic Con! Being a costumer and fan girl, naturally this is something I've wanted to go to for several years, but it wasn't until this year that I was able to make it happen.

Seattle is home to Emerald City Comic Con, which luckily for me is one of the bigger/better con's from what I've heard, so I was interested to see just what it would all be like. I live close to Seattle, so it was no big deal to go just for a day. I wish I had been able to go for another day, but I was only able to get my hands on a ticket for Friday, but it was one crazy fun day!

Seeing as this was my first time going to a convention like this and I wasn't sure what to expect, I opted not to dress up, but I wish I had. While it seemed like the larger majority of people were in regular street clothes, there were plenty of cosplayers and it would have been a fun experience to be among them in costume.

There was actually a lot of things I learned from my first trip that I thought other's may enjoy hearing, which is where this post came from. Today I would like to present to you, 5 things I learned from my first trip to Comic Con.

1. There will be a lot of people (but that's okay). It's not often that I'm in a place with as many people as there were in the Seattle Convention Center and I was worried that it would be claustrophobic/crammed/hard to navigate. The convention center was definitely packed (and it got more packed as the day went on) but the event coordinators did a good job of helping the flow of traffic and there were plenty of empty area's throughout the building where you could sit down away from the hustle for a while if you needed a break.

2. Autographs are expensive, but there are free ops too. Celebrity autographs cost a lot (Between $50-$100) but there are plenty of people (mostly authors) doing free autographs. I got to meet one of my favorite authors Timothy Zahn, who also happens to be a huge name in Star Wars literature, and it was completely free. I even got a poster, which he signed in addition to my book, and he was the nicest guy ever. As a girl on a budget, I thought this was pretty awesome that I could get that opportunity without spending anything extra.

3. Getting in line 45 minutes early is better than waiting for 2 hours. When I went to meet Timothy Zahn I decided to get there a bit early because I figured it would be quicker than coming after the signing had started. And boy was I right. I got in line about 45 minutes before the signing started and was somewhere around 12th in line. By the time the signing started there was at least 100 people waiting and there were still more people getting in line.

4. If you want a good seat at a panel you'd better get there at least one panel before. The interesting thing about panels at Comic Con is that once you're in, you're in. You don't have to leave after each panel. Once you have a seat you can sit there all day if you wanted, so if you want a good seat for a panel it's best to get there at least one panel before and then in between you can try and hop seats for a better one. But it's madness in between; half the auditorium is trying to leave while twice that many are coming in trying to get the best seats.

5. Bring a tote bag (or find a free one ASAP). There are tons of freebies, ranging from book marks, to posters and you're gonna need somewhere to carry it all. I brought a backpack thinking I would just shove stuff in there through the day, but I quickly realized it wasn't practical to be pulling it off every few minutes to put something in, especially when you're in the middle of an ocean of bustling people. I found a free bag at one of the booths which quickly became the most useful thing with me.

Over the years I've seen tons of pictures from Comic Con's from around the world but it's one of those things that's so very different to actually experience yourself. I'm looking forward to going again next year, and now I have the urge to go to some of the bigger cons and see what they're like.

Have you ever been to Comic Con before? If not, do you want to?