Saturday, 21 February 2015

Steampunk Costume

Have I mentioned that I love making costumes?  I love making costumes!  In fact I love making costumes so much that,  I volunteered to make all the costumes for a school dance production last year.  Even after designing and making: eleven costumes three headpieces, five cardboard horse heads and a pair of wings (phew) I still love making costumes.
Once I had finished the very scary Broken Doll Halloween costume for Miss Loofie I still had a whole heap of ideas for more costumes. So what’s a gal to do but make more costumes?   

My first idea was a Steampunk outfit, I love the mixture of Victorian fashion and 19th century steam powered industrial design.  I also love a challenge.   

My starting point was some wonderful embroidery designs by Urban Threads and I really tried hard to make the embroidery the feature of the outfit.   All the embroidery designs are from Urban Threads I used designs from three different design packs plus one single design.
Next I needed to find a base pattern to use as a starting point. I would really like to develop some more pattern making skills but for the time being it is the frankenpattern (I love that term) technique for me. the patterns I used were:
 I want to break down the elements of this costume because together they can look daunting, but separately it might seem more manageable. 

The Top 

I altered the back of the pattern to have a princess seam and I decided against using a zip as per the pattern and went with a lace up back. 

I think you will have to agree that the real star of the show here is the embroidery; I used some of the gears from the Basic Gear design pack by Urban Threads and by combining, resizing and rotating the individual designs in my embroidery software I was able to achieve the effect I wanted. Once the top was finished I set the eyelets in the centre of come of the gears- I think this is my favourite element of the whole costume.

I didn't need to make as many alterations to the front of the top, I didn't bother with the belt and I altered the princess seams a little for a better fit. I used more embroidery designs by Urban Threads,
I have to say I love the detail in these designs

I mean look at that Steampunk butterfly, isn't it just beautiful?  I added some beading to the embroidery, which was a first for me, I also added some cogs gears to it, just because I could!  the bottom part of the top is covered in more embroidery: when your inspiration is Victorian era fashion more is more! I wish that I had found a way to the pointed area of the top lay flat against the body; unfortunately it kept riding and flipping up.

The Bolero

I used the pattern as is for the bolero, except that I added a tab with buttonholes to give it a bit of a military vibe.  I really love the colour of the fabric I used for both the bolero, it is almost TARDIS blue; I only wish that I bought more, but isn't that always the way? Miss Loofie Loved the chain and monocle on the bolero.

Once again I used the super awesome designs by Urban Threads. I added beading, cogs and gears to this design; I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed the beading, it was relaxing and mindless enough to watch a film or TV at the same time. 
The wings are actually "free standing lace" made on my embroidery machine- if you need proof that machine embroidery is magic there it is!  I starched the wings to make them more stable, Used eyelets and ribbon to attach the wings to the bolero.

Skirt and Bustle

The skirt was a true frankenpattern, I cobbled together the bits from the top and the skirt and overskirt of McCall's 7036. I also made a bustle pad (think a cushion for your backside) to support the skirt and give a bustle era silhouette. Unfortunately we have a slight wardrobe malfunction after climbing on pipes and jumping around and one the ties holing the pad together broke so some of the later photos are er pad-less. 
I gave my ruffler attachment a workout making metres of pleated trim for both the bustle drapes and the skirt.

I did plan on an embroidered border all around the bottom of the skirt, but I gave up after the forth attempt; it should be noted that this is exactly the moment I started dreaming of either a multi needle embroidery machine or at least an embroidery machine with a larger hoop!

The Hat  


I love the hat! I have made a few hats but this was so much fun and actually a lot easier than it looks.  The hat is made from a buckram base with fleece and fabric glued on top, I reinforced the brim with some millinery wire. I used a big clip to attach it to Miss Loofie's head.

Taking the Victorian ear for inspiration I piled on the embellishments: a cameo,  ribbons, feathers and a birdcage veil (no idea if they had birdcage netting back then, but I love the way it looks!) 

Hats would have to be one of my favourite items to make, you take flat pieces of buckram and fabric and with a little hand sewing, a lot of glue and a bit of witchcraft you get a hat (well maybe the witchcraft isn't totally necessary.)  Oh and for the record I didn't torment my poor daughter with curling irons, or heater curlers or anything, I am afraid the beaut   

Some times is is hard to know just were to take photos of my creations, but in this case I knew exactly where to shoot this costume: Mundaring Weir. for those who are not from Perth;  Mundaring Weir is a dam in the Darling ranges that supplies water to the gold fields in Kalgoorlie and Coolgardie, it was completed in 1903. This was the perfect location for this costume.  

Miss Loofie had a great time modelling the costume (I might add that she also enjoyed her bribe )
I am really happy with the costume as a whole and I am looking forward to trying something new.

Thanks for reading   

P.S.  Miss Loofie says that she wants to be Emily from Corpse Bride for book week this year;  now that should be an interesting costume to make.

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Broken Doll

So Halloween has been and gone for another year, here in Australia not everyone celebrates Halloween and it has really only been in the past ten years that it seems (at least to me) that the retailers are trying to make a buck out of this particular day. 

This year Miss Loofie had an invite to a Halloween party, so of course she needed a costume.
First she wanted to be a ghost: yeah the sheet over the head kind (yawn).  Then she wanted to be Corpse Bride, an interesting challenge, but still a big nope from me.  Finally I suggested she go as a Broken Doll and a creepy haunted broken doll at that. I had a vision of what I wanted to achieve and I also decided to enter the costume in the Urban Threads Halloween costume contest. 

I started with Mccall's pattern M6187 It is a really nice old fashioned dress. The costume is made out of black drill and white poplin from Spotlight, pretty much everything else has was from my stash of thrift shop goodies.

I made a few changes to the pattern, to begin with I didn't add the apron over the skirt as it made the dress look like a French maid costume and that was totally not the look I was going for. 

I also decided to pleat the skirt to better show off the embroidery designs
lastly decided not to use a zipper on the back, but to use huge chunky buttons instead
The real fun was choosing which of the awesome embroidery designs from Urban Threads to use, seriously there are so many fun designs over there it is hard to choose.  I decided that I would buy the Toile Noir  design pack which gave me some spooky yet beautiful designs to work with.
I did have one issue with the skull on, I am working with new embroidery software and I set the wrong size hoop , ooops!  There is still a little portion of the first attempt under the final version, I don't it shows too badly.
Finally, my favourite part of the costume, a tiny top hat!! This is a free standing lace from Urban Threads, isn't it cute?

I had so much fun making this costume, and by the look of it Miss Loofie she had fun wearing it.

Monday, 11 August 2014

Buttons from Buttons

Do you love buttons? I adore buttons, especially pretty vintage buttons; I mean look at these lovelies
Mmmm pretty buttons
 Aren't they just beautiful? Side note: button makers of the world why did you stop making pretty, intricate buttons like the ones above?  Most of the above pictured buttons were lucky finds  at one of my many thrift store trips, and from my research some of the buttons are over fifty years old. 

There are some problems using vintage buttons: firstly, they can react in strange ways to modern laundry detergents and don't like the tumble dryer, in addition to this some of the buttons are starting to show their age and I am worried about them breaking, one other problem was that the buttons were either in the wrong colour or there were not enough to actually use for a garment.

I came across one solution on Pintrest some time ago: polymer clay buttons! And I have finally taken some time to test it out.

First you will need some polymer clay, I used Fimo because it was what I had, but you could use any over bake polymer clay.  I also used some mould making putty to make a mould from the prettiest buttons in my stash
The putty I used is called Pinkysil and comes in two parts, once mixed together they will start cure within two minutes so I found I had to work fast
 I found that it was easier to form the mould over the button, rather than pressing the button into the putty, I also found that it was better to press the putty down and then not touch it again until it had fully cured.  There is another mould making product by the same company that is a liquid rather than a putty and I might try that next time as I found it hard to pick up all the detail in the buttons.

I have not worked with Fimo since I was a kid so it was fun to play with, Miss Loofie joined in as well and she loved it so much she has asked for her own Fimo.  the first step is to condition the clay by kneading it and working it until it is soft and pliable.  I then pressed the clay into the mould making sure to work it well into the details of the button in question.
I would then take my blade and slice off the excess clay- you have to be careful here not cut the mould.
The first few buttons I made were fairly chunky and I played around to see how best to neaten the backs on the buttons
I found a baby wipe handy to smooth out any imperfections on the back.  I the turned the mould over and carefully pealed the mould away.  I then baked the buttons in the oven for thirty minutes

I used some Adirondack alcohol ink on some of the buttons to enhance the colour and bring out the detail a bit

I must be honest here and say that I have no idea how well this ink will cope with the laundry process, nor do I really know how well the buttons will behave when actually used as, uh, buttons. I will say that they seem strong enough and the information I have been able to find suggests that, if baked correctly, there is no reason for the buttons to perform any differently to plastic buttons.

And there you have it, buttons from buttons! aren't they pretty?  Now I am not an expert on polymer clay by any stretch of the imagination but I have to say I am really pleased with the end results. I also love that I am able to make a button that matches the fabric perfectly.
 I am planning on using some of these buttons in my next project and I will let you know how they perform.  Have any of you made your own buttons with polymer clay? I would love to know if you have any tip or tricks with working with the clay.

We will be back to sewing in the next post with some more pretty clothes and a certain Ice Queen costume  for Miss Loofie.

Saturday, 9 August 2014

Denmark Western Australia

The past two months have been crazy! I have been on a short holiday to Denmark Western Australia,  we've had school holidays and on top of all that I have been doing a whole lot of sewing, and I do mean a whole lot of sewing but I will post more about that later.

We try to go away once or twice a year and for the last few years we have been making our way down to Denmark in the Great Southern region of Western Australia.   There is something about the Denmark region that just draws me in, something that I can't quite put my finger on, or maybe it is something in the water?  at any rate Denmark has found a special place in our collective family heart.  being winter down here in the Southern hemisphere the weather was lovely and cool and rainy, with some sunshine mixed in for good measure.
Denmark River
Given our interest in photography I thought it would fun to have a little challenge for us all while we were away so the four of us had a photography scavenger hunt; the idea being that it would help us slow right down and appreciate the small things. I would like to say that this little plan actually worked, well mostly and I certainly got to see and photograph some things that I may have passed by otherwise.
The scenery in the Denmark and Walpole region is stunning, there is so much to love! from the beach and rugged coastline to the breathtaking tingle forest, from the Walpole wilderness area  to the friendly township of Denmark with its great food and super friendly locals *sigh* I want to go back just writing this.
 We finally found the gorgeous Elephant cove this time and I wish I had found this when we were down there in January, it is just so impressive.
  We found this rock near the entrance to Elephant cove, doesn't this look like the perfect mermaid rock? I am going to have to make a mermaid tail for Miss Loofie! 

We took a day trip into the historic port town of Albany and took some more pictures
Albany W.A- seriously photogenic 

while we were there we visited the old convict gaol, a fairly old building by Australian standards and allegedly haunted (oooh spooky!) we didn't meet the resident ghost but it was a very cool building and can't help but think how hard life must have been for both the convicts, but also for the first European settlers, Australia must have seemed very wild and alien.

I love learning about history, especially the history of domestic life so I was pleased to see the old iron and mangle on show in the museum.  the kids were being a pain so we threatened to put them in stocks for bad behaviour
 Nah just kidding, both these kids were willing victims participants in this photo
  I have to say there is something about standing on the coast looking down at the wild and mighty Southern Ocean to make you feel so alive. I could stand an look at this view for hours and not get sick of it.

 We spent a few days wandering amongst the beautiful Tingle, Karri and Jarrah trees the beautiful Forest in the Walpole/ Nornalup National Park

We also (finally) made it to conspicuous bay/ cliffs and I have to say WOW! look at that surf, the picture with Mr Mishka in the foreground give some idea of the scale of the waves; you really get the feeling of the might of the Southern Ocean here: next stop Antarctica. 

   Alas all good things come to an end and after a fun week it was time to leave, I always feel that one week in Denmark isn't long enough. 

Since we returned to Perth I have been very busy with costume making for a dance production at school and school holidays on top of that!  However the costumes are finished and the performance over and I am now turning my thoughts to more sewing projects.