Sunday, July 21, 2013

HSF #10: Literary (An Inspiration Post)

The tenth challenge was due on May 20 (my birthday!) and, like all the previous challenges, I had plans that never got off the ground in time.

Story time! Since 2009, a local group and I have descended upon the Alberta Prairie Railway excursion out of Stettler, AB, Canada. The first year, it was just my mum and I in costume, and every year since, more and more members have dressed up as well. Our biggest year was 19 costumes! (Pictured below.)


In July 2011, I was frantically sewing a costume. I had picked up a large quantity of faux silk for dirt cheap - $2/m! YES. Of course I can't be seen in the same outfit two years in a row, so I set about making a new dress. I'd first made a skirt out of the bronze colour, and then I couldn't decide what I wanted to make for the bodice, so I switched to the cream colour. I ended up making a skirt, overskirt, and bodice out of the cream, and I really liked the monochrome look of it. But when I had time, I would add colour accents, since my costumes so far have been very devoid of any trimming, which is just so not Victorian. It was the first time I put a pleated ruffle on the skirt, and I adored the look of it.

Shortly after I'd decided on a colour - raspberry - my dear friend Mew sent me a message telling me to check out Gail Carriger's Parasol Protectorate series. I'd like it, she said, knowing full-well my penchant for Victorian things and the occasional dabble into vampire literature. So I bought a copy for my eReader and set to reading.

And I loved it. I loved the world she built with vampires and werewolves having always been around, and I loved the main character, Alexia, and I LOVED the Victorian-ness of it. There was some steampunk elements, and while I don't particularly like steampunk, it was nicely done. But what I loved, almost more than anything else, was a scene in which Alexia goes out for the evening dressed in a cream-coloured evening gown, with raspberry trimming.

I nearly fell out of my chair laughing. This was a series for me, all right. I still have yet to make the evening bodice to go with my skirts, or trim any of it in the appropriate colour, but it remains one of my favourite gowns. It's been to Worldcon in Reno, Fort Edmonton Park, and another convention, and it won't be retired any time soon.

Fast forward a year, to when Timeless came out. Just 43 pages in, and I nearly fell out of my chair laughing again. Alexia's dress is described as an "ecru [dress] over a bronze skirt with brown velvet detailing." I'd had the bronze skirt languishing in my to-do pile since I'd made it, requiring only a hem and possibly some trimming of some kind. Thanks to this novel, I now knew what to make to go with it. I've been keeping an eye out for ecru-coloured fabric ever since, though finding something to go with a faux silk has proven difficult (granted, I have not been looking overly hard). Then, earlier this year, I received some plain fabrics as a gift, and one them I was told was silk. Even if it isn't, the slubby texture will match the skirt nicely. Better than that - it's close enough to ecru that I'm going to call it a win.

Now the hard part is deciding what pattern I want to use, and how to trim it! Does the brown velvet go on the skirt or on the dress? I had assumed the dress itself, but the wording somewhat indicates the skirt. More than that, the following line says that the dress is a little plain for visiting vampiric royalty, but more than suitable for being seen in public. Once again using Fashions of the Gilded Age as inspiration, I think I have a good idea of what I want to make. Fashions is, I think, too "late" for the Parasol Protectorate, but social mores would not have changed so radically that the information is entirely useless.

This post is already two months late for the challenge, but my goal will be to have the dress ready for Worldcon in San Antonio at the end of August.

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