Monday, March 10, 2014

Vista Civil War Event

I just came home from a great weekend.  Seriously.  I'm exhausted right now, but I wish I were still there.

I went with the Historical Citizens Association and enjoyed the amenities of my friend's tent and parlor.  (Our little group portrays the civilians of a little town that has been destroyed by passing troops.  We don't have quite have the money to rebuild, so life goes on in makeshift homes (ie, tents and flys).)

I don't have many pictures of the event because I was trying to limit myself to period activities and conversation (succeeded on the first, failed on the second, but mainly because the company was full of like-minded women that enjoy the social time) and so I didn't want to take out my small SLR (but SLR nonetheless) camera.  (Next time I'll get a small disposable camera for the weekend that I can quietly slip it out of my pocket when I want a picture and not have to deal with the very electronic sounds of modern cameras.)

I absolutely had to get a picture of my hair.  Way back in November, Miss Betsy of In the Past Lane had a giveaway.  I was soooo excited to receive my new hairnet and bookmark in the mail.  (I bugged my parents for days with "Has a package arrived for me yet?!?")

Photo by Betsy C. (In the Past Lane)
The bookmark has faithfully been serving me in my very modern copy of Anna Karenina, which is about ten years post-period and take place on an entirely different continent, but which allows the bookmark a great deal of publicity (one of my English classes this semester is entirely focused on Anna Karenina, so I take the book with me to class).

The hairnet has not until this weekend been able to be so admired (and it's all my fault).  I wanted to do it justice by photographing it in the correct context, when I was wearing the correct hairstyle and clothes and that meant I had to wait until the next event when I would have the correct hairstyle and clothes.

Well.  It was worth the wait.  I got so many compliments!

Sunday morning, I did my hair and had breakfast in a friend's parlor in my undies (ugh, soo inappropriate, I know.  I must make a wrapper.  Fortunately, my friend was in a state of undress as well, so I didn't feel too immodest.  The one gentleman that came over whilst we were so attired covered his eyes).  It happened that I was wearing striped stockings.  The ladies commented that my striped stockings and the striped ribbon of my hair accessory meant I now have to make a striped dress.

I wore a borrowed Garibaldi blouse and a borrowed belt, but managed to whip out a skirt in time.  Sadly, the skirt lacks the trim I'd intended for it.  (And I am now boycotting JoAnns.  Their prices are not supportive of my budget.)  I've read that a Garibaldi blouse would typically be considered street attire only for young women, but could be worn in the comfort of one's own home by a greater range of ages.  (Oh, look at that, I'm a young woman.)  The breadth of my hoopskirt would push me into the upper middle class/wealthy range and if I used nicer materials, I would plant myself firmly in the wealthy range.  (Not too shabby, considering I was aiming for upper middle class.)

The event is held at the Antique Gas & Steam Engine Museum, which has tons of old machinery just lying around.  The civilian town happened to be tucked in a little corner with a lot of old tractor-type-things.  Not the most period setting, but easily ignored.

And the curse of the inability-to-take-serious-photos strikes again!

Saturday night was tons of fun.  The museum provided spaghetti dinner for a small fee and then there was a dance afterwards.  I broke my six-year streak of vegetarianism with the sauce at the dinner, and then made up for it (emotionally, at least) by dancing the first few dances.  The number of men-willing-to-dance to women-willing-to-dance worked itself out such that I had a partner for each dance I stayed for.  Our little group then retired back to my friend's parlor to play some period games in the lamplight.

I met lots of new friends and I'm very upset that the next two events fall when I'm going to be out of town and the weekend before my AP exams.  Sadness.

(Also note that I'm counting this as my first Civil War event because the real first one was miserable.  I felt utterly out of place.  It's amazing what the correct outfit will do to one's enjoyment of an event.)

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Immense Hoop Skirt of Immense Proportions

My hoop skirt is huge.  No, not huge.  Immense.  Titanic.  Enormous.  Gargantuan.  Monumental.  Astronomical.  Ginormous

It's 117 inches (3 1/4 yds) in circumference.  I could hide a small country under there.

Shaping the skirt was fairly difficult and I ended up with more forward thrust than I intended, as you can see in the picture below.  The back slopes gently until it is almost vertical, but the front continues forward on an angle.

Each hoop bone is threaded through a little channel thing in a specially woven tape and then set in place with a copper "spot."

I've spoken online with people who have had problems with this kit.  For most of them, the problem lay with the spots, which they said would come undone with the movement of the cage.

I can't pretend to know exactly what went wrong for each of the unfortunate women who put hours of effort into the cage only to be disappointed.  However, I can attempt to describe in some detail my experience with the spots.

First, the little baggie of spots contained just as many broken ones as it did useable ones.  The broken ones didn't have long tines like the usable ones, and would not have been able to wrap around the hoop bone.  I separated the contents of the bag into usable and unusable spots.  When I ruined a usable spot (and I ruined quite a few before I got the hang of setting them) by bending it incorrectly or failing to catch the bone, I would move it to the unusable pile and try again with a new usable spot.

Second, there's a rhythm to setting the spots.  My personal rhythm was to bend the top tine around the bone, and then the bottom.  I could set most of the spots in only three or so movements: bend the top tine, bend the bottom tine, pinch around the entire thing.  Once I found my rhythm, I tried to stick to it to build up some muscle memory and improve my efficiency.

Third, it's very important that the tines are bent around the bone so that they "grip" the bone.  Usually the rhythm I described above would work, but on the occasion that I failed to set the spots properly, I would undo the tines, remove the spot, and try again with a fresh one.

The top five hoop bones are set a bit differently in front (and then they are covered by the leather strip).  For this step, I watched the instructional video that came with the kit a few times to get the hang of how the staff at Wooded Hamlet does it, and then I copied exactly what they did.  There's really no trick to this step.

The slight misshapenness of the top of back in the picture below is due to the process of attached the tapes to the waistband.  Those buggers like to move around and they're hard to wrangle thanks to the hoop-y-ness of the hoop skirt.  My advice: mark really well exactly where the tapes go and then make sure they are pinned in place!

And now, for something completely different.  It's also really hard to take a picture of something when your dog is doing his hardest to sit in front of the camera.

How did I test the durability of my hoopskirt?  I wore it while doing typical teenager things (dancing around the house and sitting on the couch watching TV - the two extrema of motion).

It survived the night.


The hoop skirt shall henceforth be known as "that collapsable thingamajig."  My sister has a talent with words.

TARDIS Corset Construction Detail

I finished my TARDIS corset in time for my birthday a month ago and then flossed it sometime the next week.

I tried to show how much shaping the corset gives by taking one of those pictures where the corset lies flat except for the bust and hips area, which flare up, but the corset didn't cooperate nicely.

The construction method is basically the same as for my brown underbust corset that I made last year and that I've been using as my only corset since then.  Basically, the corset is sewn together, the seams are pressed open, and the boning channels are applied directly over each seam.  (This is different from the technique I used on the gold overbust, which was just to pressed the seams to the side, sew them down, and insert the bones directly into the seam allowance.)  I've decided I prefer using the boning channels technique.  

For this corset, I also included a waist tape.  I did it so that the bottom edge of the twill tape I used matches up with the notches that indicated my waistline.  I have no idea if this is the correct way to go about it or if the waist tape should be centered over the waistline.  Eh, whatever.

Though the flossing on the inspiration extant corset is all at the top of the bones, I flossed at the bottom. This is partly because I added the trim directly over the top of the bones and thus, couldn't actually reach the bones to floss them and partly because most of the bones I bought from Richard the Thread were just a smidge too short and I wanted to make sure that the boning would stay up near by bust, where I need the most support.

(I forgot to explain what flossing is in terms of corsets.  I'm sure some of you are wondering.  Flossing is a functional decoration that holds bones in place and adds to the longevity of a corset (it would keep the bone from wearing through the fabric).  I'm using sturdy materials - coutil and whatever the boning channels are made of - that are specifically for corset making, so I'm not too worried about the bones popping out, but the inspiration extant corset has flossing (as do basically all extant corsets) and see explanation for why I flossed the bottoms of the bones #2, above.)

I used this article from Foundations Revealed to give me the X pattern that I saw on the inspiration extant corset.  This might be sacrilegious to say, but I used plain ol' white thread.  Nothing fancy.  Nothing special.  No embroidery thread.  No industrial grade buttonhole thread.  Just thread.  The same thread I was using to sew the corset.  And hey, it still looks nice!

I got this ribbon-threaded look (which I've learned is called beading) with the lace and ribbon by  passing a thin length of ribbon through a lace trim I bought for the Edwardian costume.  It's a cool look and it's probably what makes the corset look so TARDIS-y.

Heh.  For the waist tape I used twill tape I had in my stash.  It's a fairly thick tape for some reason, so I was worried about it being too bulky.  I apparently went out and bought a thinner and whiter twill tape to use instead, but I completely forgot about it until I was going through my notions box yesterday.  Whoops.

The twill tape is held on only by stitches of the boning channel.

I'm really proud of how neatly the hand stitching I did to attach the trim came out.  I like how straight the stitching is.  *Smiley face*

The picture below shows what the back side of  the flossing looks like.  The four parallel lines to the left go around the bone.  The thick line to the right is a series of stitches entirely through the fabric that holds the bone in place, and the few little dots in the middle are my initial anchoring stitches.

By the way, ten points to Hufflepuff to that freshman in the art studio that recognized it as a TARDIS corset.  I respect you and your nerdom.