Sunday, 26 December 2010

A little bit of fun...

What do you do with a pile of fake fur on the last day of work before Christmas?

Make a wild things onesie of course.

The Completed Valkyrie

Of course these are not from the proper photo shoot, these are very feeble in comparison. But you can see the costume. I'm so happy its all come together, no major drama's at all.

Hair and make-up time

This make-up is absolutely stunning. Make-up is not a skill of mine, but I can aspire.
I poor suffering model Charlie is not very well. I really rushed my make-up testing. Its not perfect but the general idea is there, I think I should extend the black down the nose a little, and out towards the sides.

I always wanted to do a plait for the hair, it is often seen done this way in the pictures of the Valkyrie, but I used the fishtail technique instead of the regular one to mix it up a bit. I think for the photo shoot it would be lovely with some gold metallic thread threaded through it.

Corset Time

Seen as I have already made corsets, I left this part until the end because I knew roughly how lng it would take. I did allow a little extra time however, because there were bust gores and feather embroideries to do.
I wanted the feathers to be peeping out from the edges of the gores.
I used calico for the liner, aesthetically its not the best, but it had to be done for time and monetary purposes.
I decided to bone both sides of the panel seams, I really like the stitch lines.
I bias-bound the inner edges at the back and hand-stitched it down.
I made a slight mistake with the bias-binding around the bottom, machine stitched it to the inside rather than the outside. Never mind though, a little bit of unpicking solved that.

Just some flossing at the base of the gores to be done, I tried very hard to stop it from fraying, but the silk was just too delicate.

Completely finished armour

I'm not sure why, but the pictures have come out in completely different colours, this first one is the most accurate.
There is a slight bend to the helmet crest, I think that came from easing the plastazote into place.
Well not quite finished, I still have to work out how to fasten it on. Body tape, ribbon, or flesh tone elastic are the current contenders.

Painting and Finishing the Armour

Time to paint the armour. I mixed gold acrylic with latex paint.
After coat one.
After coat 4. I had to wait longer than normal between coats of paint because the studio I work in was averaging at what felt at about -20degrees. As you can tell by the need for my oh so fashionable woolly hat below.
After all the layers of paint, it was time to airbrush. This was by far the most nerve racking part of the entire process. Something about having to keep the airbrush nozzle at least 3" away from my work, and pull a trigger where a few millimetres variation was the difference between a light mist and a dark brown splodge.
To make the detail stand out I used a dark brown in all the crevices and shadows. Most of it went well, there were a few hiccups that stand out terribly to me. I'm hoping its just because I know where they are.

Finally I varnished it all with this, great stuff. Just a 5 second spray and its done., wonderful.

Completed Skirt

After all the effort of O.C.D. cleaning and sewing in bin bags, I was not about to dirty up the train on the floor, so you will have to excuse the bin bag my (stand-in) model is stood on.

This is the skirt with the short bustle, and around 10 layers of netting underneath. I am very pleased with the shape from the side, I am not quite so sure about the back. I may just be the way I draped it on the bin bag.

Next stage of skirt

Hand sewing the panels together took a total of about 10 hours, here is the first (and easiest one) done, before I tackled the scalloping at the bottom.
When all that was done, I traced the pattern out again onto the lining fabric, a very soft cotton, and then sewed them together right sides facing and added the graded wadding. This part took a lot longer than I thought it would, there was a lot of smoothing out to be done.
When I'd turned it right way out, it was time to pin. I started by following the ones I had traced out (very faintly) on the liner, but for some reason it wasn't really working. So after all the time I had spent working out the feather patterns, I pretty much scrapped it all. The version I ended up with was just made from careful pinning and re-pinning until it looked right.
After I had quilted it (which was a fairly quick process compared to the rest of it, due to the wide spacing of the feathers) I added on the waistband, the very last little bit. I had a battle with what fabric to use, the plan was to use the darkest skirt silk, but when I ironed it onto the waistband interfacing it changed the colour to an icky grey. So in the end I used the pale grey silk of the corset. I pleated the wings in with small pleats and hand stitched the waistband...twice. Either I measured wrong or the fabric shuffled as I sewed, because waistband attempt one ended up 4" too large.

Thursday, 2 December 2010

15 metres of hem later...

Its a pretty huge skirt that's what it is. This is our current project at work, an orange skirt, corset, shrug, jacket and wings for a Venetian ball. The lady is a UK size 10, so rather slim, but the skirt is HUGE!
11 panels worth of huge, that had to be hand mounted onto netting. Took two full days.
It was stitched together at the seams, then I hand sewed the 15 meter fake hem. I thought it would be a job to spread out over about 4 days, 3 panels here 3 panels there so I didn't go insane, but it turns out I find hem sewing oddly therapeutic and I knocked it all out in a day.

So, waist band on, and layered on top of a large crinoline and a 3 layer tiered nett skirt, and Tah-Dah! Happy days.

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Why did I choose white silk?

I was warned against working with white silk, I knew the risks and I still took the plunge. Beginning to understand the reasons behind the warnings, I have spent more time cleaning my work area than anything else.
There are 3 separate layers to my swan skirt, all in slightly different shades of cream, all to be invisible stitched together by hand.
It took about an hour and a half to do the first seam (above), this was before I attempted the feathered seam at the bottom. In total it was about 10 hours of hand stitching, I thought it would be a mission, but I found it really therapeutic when I got into it.

Glue it all together

Lovely looking isn't it, this is the glue to stick the plastazote together.
Its contact adhesive called evo-stick, you paint it to both surfaces to be stuck together wait until its mostly dry then press them together. And like magic, they bond, joined for eternity, its wonderful stuff.
Here is the first stage of the helmet.
And the completed glueing. I stuck the details to the panels on the flat before bending the entire thing into shape.

Here is the pauldron, again I failed to take a picture of the gauntlet.

Cutting into the Plastazote

I traced out the patterns from my cardboard versions of the armour.
Then used a craft knife to cut them out of the plastazote.
I cut and traced all the main section of the helmet and pauldron onto 9mm, the gauntlet onto 6mm, and the pattern detail onto 2mm.

Then placed and pinned them all.

Designing the designs

Old norse designs and Celtic designs have a lot in common, so I used a lot of Celtic design books to inspire the patterns on my armour.
I spent the entire day working out the patterns. I incorporated a swan, a horse shoe, and a northern lights inspired swirl, into them all subtly in different places.

The designs had to be simple enough to be clear when cut out of the plastazote, but intricate enough to have a strong aesthetic impact.