Tuesday, 11 October 2011

The Wanderer Returns

It’s fair to say, I’ve been an absolutely awful blogger of late. Everything happened at once, leaving uni, moving house, two new jobs, off on holiday, and now another new job for the next few weeks. It’s been all go. But I’ve finally sat down with a sprinkling or energy which for once is simultaneous with a (mostly) working internet. There is so much to catch up on. We finished the dagged hoods (previous post) and moved on the the main part of the outfits; the gambesons. A sort of historical puffer jacket worn under armour.

Just for a bit of fun, we made the mock-up (above) out of this completely inappropriate floral fabric, very many we thought. The sides don’t match because we tried different patterns of quilting. I prefer the side with less diagonal in it personally.


Aside from the quilting, the actual pattern was very simple. Just a standard straight jacket. But for each pattern piece, there was a long process to go through to get it ready. It was made of four layers, a beautifully soft brushed cotton lay next to the skin, a wadding, and then two layers of linen. The wadding was an authentic cotton, it was so much nicer to use than the normal man-made stuff. As the gambesons were going to be broken down, we used two upper fabrics so that we could really work into the top one, and where holes were formed you just saw a slightly differently coloured linen; rather than straight to the wadding (below).


When all the layers were so completely pinned we almost faced the catastrophe of empty pin pots, it was time to quilt. First with a standard straight stitch to hold everything in place, and then with a decorative one over the top. The second layer of stitching is what can be seen above in grey, large stitches which the machine goes back over 3 times. It took a long time going backwards and forwards like that, but it was definitely worth it, the quilting was much more visible (see difference between the two sleeve panels below). We also added strips of leather between every other row of stitching, for an extra dimension.


After all the panels were ready it was assembled together. So that the panels flowed together nicely, we waited until this point to add the leather pieces which would cross seam lines, which especially across the back gave it better continuity. I hand stitched cotton twill tape over the top of every single seam on the inside, grading down and enclosing all the seam allowance.  It took hours, but was completely worth it, it really finished off the inside. Unfortunately I completely forgot to take a picture.

After I had done that, Denise bound the edges in leather, and our work was complete. 


Thursday, 7 July 2011

Delving into the medieval.

I’ve had quite a time of it lately, after 3 years of student life, I finished uni a few weeks ago, and its time to greet the real world. I’m pretty much sorted now, found a house to live in, and job that will pay the bills – making theatre drapes for Presentation Design Services.

As well as that I have been keeping busy at The Custom Costume Company. Amongst other things at the moment, we are making 3 medieval inspired hoods. The wool is beautiful, the fibres feel felted, you can cut it and it does not fray a bit – wonderful stuff.

I had fun designing all the patterns, I’ve not done much in the way of machine embroidery and applique before. And they did not take any where near as long to embroider as I expected.


The characters wearing the hoods are meant to be from the same regiment (if that is the right word) so patterns had to be recognisably similar, but not identical.

They are at a halfway stage right now.


I think the green one is my favourite.

Saturday, 18 June 2011

Pink, pink and …. yep, more pink


A very quick, very pink, very ruffle covered costume we knocked up in a couple of days for a dance show. Denise added trim to an eBay corset, while I made the skirt. Four layers of ruffle on the outside, and another three on the inside. It’s a circle skirt with the waist off centre so it’s longer at the back.


I made the blouse as well, believe it or not, this is the sleeve pattern. It’s this funny shape because it has a slit a the top.


This project involved a very large amount of trim. The dance was to Candyman, so we were going with the sweets and candy, pink and white vibe.


A little something new


I have just finished university, no more lectures, no more essay, time to start real life. But before that we had the graduation ball, so of course a new little dress was required.

I’m not great when it comes to sewing stuff for myself, I get impatient when I know its only me wearing stuff, the number of short and skirts I have held together with safety pins because I couldn’t bothered with that last little button.

I made a bit more of an effort with this though, even bought matching thread and zip, and sewed on the hook and eye. I’m sure I would still have put more effort in if it had been for someone else, but it served its purpose.

And it was a challenge, there were several new factors to work with. The fabric, it being one shoulder, the draping. I was making it up as I went along, so its not perfect, but I’m pretty pleased with it.

I drafted the pattern from my measurements, and I think the fabric is georgette with cotton lining. I must learn to ask the market sellers what I’m buying, my knowledge of fabric names needs some work.

Tunics Again


Photo by Martin Gill

Making the Neck Piece


In total it took about 4 days work to complete the Valkyrie neck piece. It’s scale mail like I was doing before, but instead of the jump rings I was using before, for this one I was using split rings. Split rings are very similar to key rings but these ones are much smaller, about 0.5cm across.


I was using scales of half the size as well, so the whole job was much more fiddly. I used a simple link method for the main body, which means there are two links per scale, but the join at the shoulders was more complicated and involved five links per scale.


Took a while to work out how to to the back, I ended up just making a line of scale, the hole was big enough for it not to need a fastening, it could slip on over the head.

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Final Valkyrie Pictures


Well it only took me 5 months, but I finally managed to get round to organising a proper photo shoot for my Valkyrie costume, and so after a brief hiccup when I accidentally locked the costume in university, here they are.


Sunday, 15 May 2011

1940s Dress

My cousin asked if I would make her an outfit for a 1940s themed street party, so here is a little sketch I did as the idea for it.

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Forming a Something


The scale mail really is coming along, this is the product of a days linking. The rings are really quite solid, and using the pliers all day means me thumbs feel like they’ve dropped off.


After trying both, blunt nosed pliers definitely make life easier then needle nose ones.


This is going to be part of a fairy costume, scale mail top and skirt with under-bust corset.

Learning a new thing


I started learning how to make scale mail the other day. Its similar to chain mail, but some of the rings are replaced with scales (those metal pieces with holes in).


The scales are about an inch long, so it came together quite quickly once I got the hang of it. It’s actually kind of therapeutic.


This was just a test piece to see how it went.

Monday, 9 May 2011

Wollaton Photo Shoot


Finally got around to organising the photo shoot for the Wollaton costumes, here is a tiny snippet, he took hundreds!


I whipped up a pair of drawers so that i could get a picture of the corset as well. I found evidence that they wore drawers in the regency era, but I couldn’t find any patterns, so this one is made up. Not exactly the most accurate, but fit for purpose for the shoot.

Finally got round to it


Last September I started making this corset as a little project for myself. I had been gifted several historical patterns, so I thought I would try one out. It was a bit more of a challenge because they were entirely in French, but I got there.


It had been tucked away in a corner since then, finished apart from the bones, bias binding and eyelets. A friend very kindly offered to do a photo-shoot for my Wollaton costumes for me, so it gave me a push to finish it off so I could add it in.


I really like the shape of the front. According to Harriet, my flatmate who kindly agreed to model for the shoot, its really comfortable.


I think she quite enjoyed herself.
I don’t really have a use for it, so I’ve put it
in my etsy shop.