Vespertine Winter Ball Gown

The Vespertine Winter Ball was held on 20 December 2014.  It’s a ball celebrating winter and the solstice.  It was held in the same ballroom and produced by the same woman as The Vampire’s Masquerade Ball (vampireballpdx.com), which is a gothic ball held every March.  Instead of a gothic theme, the Vespertine Ball is wintery decorations and costumes in white, silver and blue.

I made an 18th Century style vest and knee-length pants for my friend Orange (I hope to have pix soon, as well as GEARcon fashion show pix) out of (not metallic) silver duppioni silk.  He did the buttonholes and buttons because my machine needs to be serviced–everything else on it works fine.  He also made some alterations to a silver Chinese brocade knee-length coat.  He gave me a white wedding dress, which I covered with peacock blue/turquoise synthetic organza, blue and metallic silver lace, and winter white tulle that has nearly clear sequins on it.  This took a LOT of work, as I had to do a ton of hand sewing.  I normally don’t do a lot of hand sewing and my lower arm right by my elbow hurt for days.  Photos of me in this gown are below.

This is my sister on the left and I'm on the right.

This is my sister on the left and I’m on the right. Photo by Orange.

Another view, but I should  have turned the other way.

Another view, but I should have turned the other way. Photo by Orange.

A close up of the front.  Photo by M.H.

A close up of the front. Photo by M.H.

The process of creating this covering for this dress was this: I draped an upper front piece over the bust and sewed it and sleeves on.  For the back of the skirt, I just sewed a couple widths of organza together and gathered them at the top then sewed this to the back of the waist under the part where the corset top overlaps the skirt (they made the dress look like it was a separate corset and a separate skirt).  Then I draped fabric on the back of the bodice and sewed that by hand.  The back doesn’t look very fancy.  Then, for the front, since I was copying a dress from the book Style and Splendour: The Wardrobe of Queen Maud of Norway by Anne Kjellberg and Susan North, which has photos of what Queen Maud wore from around 1901 to 1938–I copied the style of one of her evening dresses from 1908, I pinned narrow ribbon to make the line for the asymmetrical overlapping front.  The book’s ISBN is 1-85177-454-8.  Then I draped the smaller front underlapping side then the larger front overlapping side.  Before I hand stitched the fronts to the dress, I sewed the blue and silver lace onto the organza.  Then more hand stitching.  It was simple but took a long time and I had to make sure I draped it right so that when I put it on, nothing was too tight or too loose.  Below is the photo from the book.  I copied the green one in the middle.

Book's caption is Three evening gowns, 1907-9, centre gown by LaFerriere, Paris.  I really would love to make a better version of it, it's so beautiful.

Book’s caption is Three evening gowns, 1907-9, centre gown by LaFerriere, Paris. I really would love to make a better version of it, it’s so beautiful.

As always, I welcome comments, questions, suggestions and constructive criticism.  If my explanations aren’t clear, please let me know so I can simplify them.

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Time Travelers’ Ball Gown

Dear readers, yes, it’s been a long time since I’ve posted anything.  I’m still working on getting photos for the costumes my models modeled for me at GEARcon in July (new photos, not photos from the original photographer).  In the meantime, here are photos of me in the gown I made for the Time Travelers’ Ball on October 18, 2014.  One or two of the photos are by my dear friend Orange (who also helped me do some of the sewing) and the rest are by this guy whose name I can’t remember who was taking pix for free.  This gown is the same pattern as one I’ve previously done. It’s made from synthetic-fiber Chinese brocade and dupioni silk.  I didn’t have enough brocade to make the whole gown; fortunately I had enough silk in the matching color.  I already had the lace, so all I had to buy was the ribbon and gold trim.  The skirt was made from some polyester-nylon taffeta left over from another project.

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No good photos from the Steampunk fashion show…

I know all of my dear readers want to see photos from the fashion show at the Steampunk convention that was held on July 4, 2014.  Well, we’re all going to have to wait a little longer because I only got photos of half my models from the photographer who was there.  They weren’t even that good.  One of my friends who takes a lot of photos of me and is pretty good is going to take photos of my models in their costumes as soon as we can.  I’m probably more annoyed than you are that we’ve had to wait this long.  Those photos weren’t out until two months after the event and then he wasn’t very nice about it.  Two months!

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Photos from the fashion shows at GEARcon 2012 and 2013

Here are photos from the fashion shows at GEARcon 2012 and 2013, Portland’s Steampunk convention.

2012:

These are backstage.

GEARcon 2012, backstage at fashion show, photo by me: Amberly in cotton print jacket, bodice, skirt; Sock Dreams socks and arm warmers; my boots and jewelry

GEARcon 2012, backstage at fashion show, photo by me: Amberly in cotton print jacket, bodice, skirt; Sock Dreams socks and arm warmers; my boots and jewelry

Here are photos I took of the above costume on my dress form:

The back of the bodice and skirt

The back of the bodice and skirt

The bodice and the skirt

The bodice and the skirt

The back of the jacket

The back of the jacket

The rest of the photos from backstage:

GEARcon 2012, backstage at fashion show, photo by me: Rob in his vest; his own shirt, pants, watch; hat by Ramon.

GEARcon 2012, backstage at fashion show, photo by me: Rob in his vest; his own shirt, pants, watch; hat by Ramon.

GEARcon 2012, backstage at fashion show, photo by me: Greg in duppioni silk vest with contrasting cotton velveteen collar; his own shirt and tie.

GEARcon 2012, backstage at fashion show, photo by me: Greg in duppioni silk vest with contrasting cotton velveteen collar; his own shirt and tie.

GEARcon 2012, backstage at fashion show, photo by me: Michell helping Greg

GEARcon 2012, backstage at fashion show, photo by me: Michell helping Greg

GEARcon 2012, backstage at fashion show, photo by me: Michell in duppioni silk and cotton velveteen 1882 polonaise bodice and synthetic taffeta skirt; her own jewelry and borrowed parasol.

GEARcon 2012, backstage at fashion show, photo by me: Michell in duppioni silk and cotton velveteen 1882 polonaise bodice and synthetic taffeta skirt; her own jewelry and borrowed parasol.

Same as above but with flash.

Same as above but with flash.

Michell and Greg on the runway…I don’t have pix of the other 2 models.

Photo by Nellie of Your Essence Photography.

Photo by Nellie of Your Essence Photography.

Photo by Nellie of Your Essence Photography.

Photo by Nellie of Your Essence Photography.

2013

Sage is wearing a plum upholstery velvet day jacket, a striped cotton vest, and black satin pantaloons.  Hat by Avery Milieu Millinery.  She wasn't the original model and is taller.  Photo by Jack Allen.

Sage is wearing a plum upholstery velvet day jacket, a striped cotton vest, and black satin pantaloons. Hat by Avery Milieu Millinery. She wasn’t the original model and is taller. Photo by Jack Allen.

Photo by Jack Allen.

I will have to get a photo of the back of this costume.  Photo by Jack Allen.

Photo by Craig Solomon.

Photo by Craig Solomon.

Christelle in my cotton print 1882 polonaise bodice (with a very long attached skirt) and solid cotton under skirt.  Photo by Jack Allen.

Christelle in my cotton print 1882 polonaise bodice (with a very long attached skirt) and solid cotton under skirt. Hat by Avery Milieu Millinery.  Photo by Jack Allen.

Photo by Jack Allen.

Photo by Jack Allen.

Photo by Craig Solomon.

Photo by Craig Solomon.

Photo by Craig Solomon.

Photo by Craig Solomon.

Rob in his own pants, shirt, and hat; I made the cotton print with contrasting cotton velvet collar vest and black silk cravat.  Photo by Jack Allen.

Rob in his own pants, shirt, boots, and hat; I made the cotton print with contrasting cotton velvet collar vest and black silk cravat. Photo by Jack Allen.

Photo by Craig Solomon.

Photo by Craig Solomon.

Back of the vest.  Photo by Jack Allen.

Back of the vest. Photo by Jack Allen.

Gwyn in my duppioni silk 1880's costume and gloves.  Hat by Avery Mileu Millinery.  Photo by Jack Allen.

Gwyn in my duppioni silk 1880’s costume, jewelry, and gloves. Hat by Avery Milieu Millinery. Photo by Jack Allen.

The back of Gwyn.  Photo by Jack Allen.

The back of Gwyn. Photo by Jack Allen.

Sheralyn in the costume I had previously made for her out of poly-nylon taffeta.  Her own accessories.  Photo by Jack Allen.

Sheralyn in the costume I had previously made for her out of poly-nylon taffeta. Her own accessories. Photo by Jack Allen.

Sheralyn's back.  Photo by Jack Allen.

Sheralyn’s back. The criss-crossed ribbon came on the fabric already.  Photo by Jack Allen.

Kim in an 1882 polonaise bodice and skirt made from duppioni silk and embroidered lace.  Hat by Avery Milieu Millinery.  Photo by Jack Allen.

Kim in an 1882 polonaise bodice and skirt made from duppioni silk and embroidered lace. Hat by Avery Milieu Millinery. Photo by Jack Allen.

You can see part of the back.  Photo by Jack Allen.

You can see part of the back. Photo by Jack Allen.

Photo by Jack Allen.

Photo by Jack Allen.

Photo by Craig Solomon.

For those who are at this level of sewing (even if you aren’t), Kim is really curvy and was wearing a corset.  You can see the vertical darts and the horizontal bust darts.  I had to do several darts to be able to fit it correctly.  It wasn’t the easiest task.  Photo by Craig Solomon.

 

Links to the photographers:

Concierge Photography by Craig Solomon and here

Hotshot Imagery by Jack Allen

Your Essence Photography by Nellie Blye Davis

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Steampunk fashion show again

I got myself into it again, but this year it’s going to be a lot more work.  I’m doing the Steampunk fashion show at the Steampunk convention again in July.  This time the show is Friday night and has bands, a contortionist, 2 aerial silks performers, a teaser for the burlesque on Sunday, and 2 or 3 other fashion designers besides me.  It’s also the only thing to do at the con during that time slot so a lot of people will be there.  I have 8 models and am also making a vest for the M.C./host.  (Last year, I had 6 models.  2 of them wore my costumes and 1 wore a costume I had already made for her.  This is why I say it’s going to be a lot more work.)

So far I have everything ready to sew for the M.C. and all the models except one model.  I still have to design and pattern her top and skirt (which, thank God, are going to be simple) but she is wearing a sort of belt/cincher/obi that just needs boning put into it, ribbon sewn over the top, and the sash attached.  I have everything done for another model (see the previous entry about the cravat).  Today I got the vest for one of the models around 3/4 of the way finished and got his cravat all done.  Yesterday I cut out a pair of pantaloons for another model.  Pretty good considering I was sick Sunday morning and spent Sunday and Monday recovering.

Here are photos of the fabrics I’m using.  It was really nice of Ceegee and Katie to give me some fabrics and of some of my models to buy their fabrics.

These fabrics are for Heidi's costume.  The dupioni silk on the left is the under skirt and the striped fabric on the right is a bodice and over skirt, very early 1880's.

These fabrics are for Heidi’s costume. The dupioni silk on the left is the under skirt and the striped fabric on the right is a bodice and over skirt, very early 1880’s.  They’re both blue, even though they look more gray.

The cream with gold linen blend fabric on top is for Kim's chemise and pantaloons.  The pink fabric in the middle is a synthetic sari that's going to be her belt and over skirt.  The blue on the bottom is a synthetic sari that is Sabrina's bodice and over skirt.  Her under skirt is a very flat texture polyester in the navy blue of the sari.

The cream with gold linen blend fabric on top is for Kim’s chemise and pantaloons. The pink fabric in the middle is a synthetic sari that’s going to be her belt and over skirt. The blue on the bottom is a synthetic sari that is Sabrina’s bodice and over skirt. Her under skirt is a very flat texture polyester in the navy blue of the sari.

The cream/purple/gold upholstery brocade on the left and the purple lining above it are for the M.C.'s vest.  He is going to wear a navy blue suit with it, which is supposed to look black on stage.  The fabrics on the right are for Fredrick's vest, the one that's nearly done.  The bottom fabric is a drapery brocade and is the front and side back of the vest.  The middle fabric is the outside of the back and is a wool blend.  The top fabric is also a drapery brocade but I cut out that motif and appliqued it to the back.

The cream/purple/gold upholstery brocade on the left and the purple lining above it are for the M.C.’s vest. He is going to wear a navy blue suit with it, which is supposed to look black on stage. The fabrics on the right are for Fredrick’s vest, the one that’s nearly done. The bottom fabric is a drapery brocade and is the front and side back of the vest. The middle fabric is the outside of the back and is a wool blend. The top fabric is also a drapery brocade but I cut out that motif and appliqued it to the back.

Not shown are the vest Landon is going to wear (already finished and from 2 years ago), the fabric for Etta’s costume, the cincher/belt for Mari, and the other fabrics for Mari (haven’t chosen those yet).  Sorry that my phone doesn’t take great photos plus I didn’t bother to (yet) edit them on my computer.

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Another cravat

I just made another cravat.  It’s more complicated than the ones in one of my previous entries, but not by much.  I’ll show you photos then tell you what I did to make it.

The cravat I just made

The cravat I just made

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A close up view of the ends of the cravat

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Another view of the cravat I just made

The base of the cravat is a piece of Chinese silk that is 60″ long and 12″ wide.  The gold flowers on navy and royal blue is scraps from a sari from India.  The rest of the sari was cut into a bodice and over skirt for one of my models for a fashion and variety show in July.  The model who is wearing this cravat is also wearing a duppioni silk vest that is a light, cool blue with a navy blue velveteen collar.  These blues match the vest.

After cutting the Chinese silk, I cut a piece of fusible interfacing the same size and fused it to the silk.  I had to piece together the border scraps to make a strip that was long enough, so I did that, then laid the border on the silk.  I basted the selvage edge of the border to the edge of the silk then sewed the other side of the border to the silk with a zigzag stitch.  I made it a little narrower than the default setting and changed the length to 0.5 so the stitches would cover up the cut edge of the border.  I pressed the whole thing.

I folded the silk so that the other long edge of the rectangle met the long edge I had just sewn the border to.  With right sides together, I stitched that long edge and the ends, leaving a space on the long edge a bit wider than my hand so I could easily turn the cravat right side out.  I clipped the corners and turned it right side out.  I pressed it with the border side down so that I could pull the edges a bit toward the non-border side.  I stitched the opening closed then edge stitched all the way around the cravat 1/8″ from the edge.  Then I pressed it again.

[5/21/14]: I forgot to add that like in the other cravat entry above, I folded the cravat the long way so it was a few layers thick and sewed it down.  This is just a bit off exact half and is long enough for around the back of the neck.  You might not want to do it if you want your cravat to be more free flowing or like a scarf, but this is so that this part can nicely sit at the back of the neck before being wrapped.  Here’s a photo:

Folding and stitching for the back of the neck

Folding and stitching for the back of the neck

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Early 1880s pouf over skirt

When many people look at fashions from other eras, especially the Elizabethan and Victorian eras, their comments are often something to do with how complicated that costume is or that it would be hard to make.  Many gowns have many pieces and are covered with yards and yards of trim.  If you look at the actual patterns (collected in some of the books on my Links and Books page), you can see that the shapes themselves aren’t very complex.  There often was either a lot of trim or draping and pleating to give a desired shape and look.

In the late 1870’s and early 1880’s, many over skirts had a fairly short sort of apron in the front which went from the front to the side back (if you stand with your hands on your waist, to around where the tips of your thumbs touch your waist).  Sometimes there was a longer apron under the first one.  The back was a longer pouf that was mostly a rectangle pleated around its edges and the resulting poufs in the middle tacked at various spots.  After making the front apron and the back pouf and adding as much trim as you want, sew one side of the one to the side of the other.  Sew to a waistband.  On the other side, add snaps or hooks and eyes to keep it closed.  Usually the bodice and the over skirt were in the same fabric, while the under skirt was in a different color or texture.

First take a large rectangular piece of fabric you can play with and pin the pleats.  Once you know if that piece is too large, too small, or just right, you can cut it out of the fabric you want plus enough to hem it all around.

Here are photos so you can see what I’m talking about.  I used 3 different fabrics: floppy antique satin, quilt cotton, and regular apparel polyester matte satin.

Floppy antique satin with the top pleated

Floppy antique satin with the top pleated.  Pleat the bottom, too.

 

Close up of the top pleats

Close up of the top pleats

 

Pleat the sides like this, further apart than the top and bottom.

Pleat the sides like this, further apart than the top and bottom.

 

The top, bottom, and sides have been pleated, leaving some floppy puffiness in the middle and making the rectangle smaller than its original size.

The top, bottom, and sides have been pleated, leaving some floppy puffiness in the middle and making the rectangle smaller than its original size.  The bottom almost always folds under, as seen (rather, not seen) here.

Various spots of the pouf have been pinned.  Play with it until you get it looking how you want it to and just tack down with a few machine stitches (or several by hand).  Many over skirts were not symmetrical.  Have fun with it.

Various spots of the pouf have been pinned. Play with it until you get it looking how you want it to and just tack down with a few machine stitches (or several by hand). Many over skirts were not symmetrical. Have fun with it.

Here is a piece of cotton with the top pleated.

Here is a piece of cotton with the top pleated.

The bottom and sides have been pleated, leaving a pouf in the  middle as above, but as this cotton is less floppy than the antique satin, it stands up better and has a different look than the antique satin.

The bottom and sides have been pleated, leaving a pouf in the middle as above, but as this cotton is less floppy than the antique satin, it stands up better and has a different look than the antique satin.

Poufs have been pinned

Poufs have been pinned

Pleats on the polyester satin

Pleats on the polyester satin

Pleats again

Pleats again.  Don’t forget to pleat the bottom.

Here, it's all pleated and waiting to have those puffs and poufs pinned.

Here, it’s all pleated and the puffs and poufs are pinned.

Another view

Another view, pinned

As you can see, different fabrics give a slightly different result.  It’s up to you which fabric you choose and if you want to go with solid, something with a pattern, or stripes, which would look really interesting.

Here is a photo of what the apron part should look like.

Front apron.  This will be worn on your waist (actual smallest part of your torso, not where you wear your pants) so measure your waist.  The top curve of the apron is your waist minus the width of the back pouf plus 1/4 to 1/2 inch ease plus enough to over lap and be able to close.  The sides will be pleated, how much is up to you.  The lower curve can be trimmed.  The length is how ever long you want it to hang at the center.

Front apron. This will be worn on your waist (actual smallest part of your torso, not where you wear your pants) so measure your waist. The top curve of the apron is your waist minus the width of the back pouf plus 1/4 to 1/2 inch ease plus enough to over lap and be able to close. The sides will be pleated, how much is up to you. The lower curve can be trimmed. The length is how ever long you want it to hang at the center, which will be a bit shorter when it’s worn because the side pleats will cause it to drape a bit and pull up.  Cut it a bit longer than you actually want it to be.

Let me know if anything here doesn’t make sense and if you have any questions.

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