Wednesday, December 31, 2014

HSF '14 #23: Modern History: A Purple Princess Royal Scarf

What a whirlwind month it has been! I'll give you the shortened personal overview, and then get on with the textile adventures :)

Shortly after my second-last post, my car died. It was at least third-hand new-to-me, a 2005 Kia Rio. Manual shift, which I had to learn how to drive (I ended up loving it). I had it for just over two months. It ended up not being worth it to me to fix (a broken timing belt, which a good estimate was running $1400 to fix, assuming there wasn't a lot of damage. The belt was crucial to the engine's operation, and since it broke when I was doing 100km/hr [60mph], I wasn't hopeful at all that it could be repaired on the "low" end) and I decided not to hang onto it. I haven't heard about it since last week, so hopefully it has gone to the pick'n'pull lot to be happily salvaged for parts by someone else. Then, in a moment of what I'm still not sure was brilliance or madness, I bought a new car. Brand spankin' new, 44km on the odometer when I drove it off the lot, 2014 Kia Rio. It's only been 2.5 weeks but I'm pretty happy with it :)

And now, on to textiles!

Admittedly, I "borrowed" the idea for this HSF challenge from Quinn, who knitted a delightful scarf for the same challenge. I hadn't thought about the challenge in such a way, but there it was. Then, as I was blog-browsing, I saw that Katherine had started a Princess Royal scarf (look at those darling needles!), and I was struck with inspiration. I pulled out some needles (the longest straights that I had in a small gauge) and some stash yarn, and got to knitting.

I am a terribly slow knitter. I started it in early December, and finished it well after the challenge was over, on Christmas Eve morning.

But I gotta say, the pom-poms are my favourite part :) I wrapped yarn around my fingers 30 times or so, cut the loops, and then crocheted a tail to attach them too. They make me smile. Yay pom-poms!

The scarf would be absolutely useless in the way that I wear winter scarves in somewhat northern Canada-land (it would need to be much longer), but perfectly fine to keep one's neck warm if it's not too drafty.

The Challenge: #23 Modern History
Fabric: 100% Acrylic yarn
Pattern: Princess Royal's Scarf
Year: 1856
Notions: None.
How historically accurate is it?: Shape is, but modern everything-else.
Hours to complete: roughly 3 weeks...
First worn: Christmas
Total cost: Needles and yarns were both from my aunt's estate, so free-to-me. It would cost roughly $8 to buy new yarn, with lots leftover for another project.


Tuesday, December 30, 2014

2014: A Year in Review

I can hardly believe that 2014 is nearly over! It seems like just a few short weeks ago that it was beginning. When I started compiling this list, I forgot about half of what was on it. I did a lot more than I remembered! Let's get down to the review of What I Accomplished, shall we? :)

 photo IMG_4692_zps53c37325.jpg
Hooded Cape

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Undergarments (petticoat and bum pad)

Muff Base (no picture)

18th century chemise

Ballgown Bodice

1930s (?) Dirndl (The pattern came up on a Facebook group and many commenters disputed the date of the pattern)

Whore-I-Mean-Handmaiden Game of Thrones gown
Photo by Fearless Photoworks

Black and green 1860s corset


Tabi socks

Chizuru cosplay (Hakuoki)

18th century cap

Regency Paisley Day gown

Regency guimpe/chemisette

Regency Spencer

Regency muslin ball gown
Our hostess and her husband :)
Photo by Danny Jones Photography

Regency Men's tailcoats (3)
Photo by Danny Jones Photography

Candy-stripe farthingale (side view)

Candy-stripe bustle

1870s bonnet

Cropped Peasant Blouse
Photo by Kazoo Productions

75% of a hand-sewn Curtain Along gown

+ a few toiles and items that are currently PHD's.

PHEW!! That was a lot of things! Here's looking forward to a wonderfully dressed 2015!

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

HSF '13 #7: Accessorize

August 2, 2013

The seventh challenge, Accessorize, was due on April 8, so once again I am cheating OUTRAGEOUSLY and completing the challenge not only later than the due date, but not even planning it until well after the fact.

(You guys won't tell, right? Thanks :D You're the best!)

The same year I made the cream-coloured Victorian gown (2011), I also had the whim to make a hat. I'd used Truly Victorian's hat pattern, with plastic canvas and felt instead of buckram, as given in the Elizabethan patterns by Margo Anderson. The result was quite pleasing, even if I'd made a rather serious error in judgement and started making it the day before I wanted to wear it. I sat at my aunt's BBQ for several hours, hand-sewing a hat in three layers without a thimble. My dress the next day was largely pinned together, as I literally could not push a needle through fabric anymore to attach closures. I had to sew the last four buttons on my bodice in the car on the way to the event.

Photo by M. Gibbins

Last year I did not wear a hat. I regretted wearing the dress I'd made at all, as it was incredibly hot and humid (for Alberta) and I ended up taking off as many layers as I could, plunked myself into a shaded area, and just tried to survive the trip back. We declared one member of our group the "madam" and my sisters and I (all rather scantily dressed, for Victorian times) were her "ladies of the night".

Big Valley, 2012

This year, I wanted another hat. I'd lent my pattern to my mum, and the gnomes have wandered off with it. I'm also lending my bustle to my sister this year, so I'm doing more mid-period, non-bustled looks. Trying to find information on hats is somewhat daunting to this non-hat maker, so I did some digging and I found a pattern by Lynn McMasters I'd never seen before. I ended up ordering it off of eBay and after a very pleasant transaction, I received the pattern in today's mail :D

Since I had nothing else to do, I got out my trusty plastic canvas, 22g floral wire, and a roll of felt and set to work. By 11:30 pm, after approximately two and a half hours of work, I had the canavs cut, pieced, sewn, and wired together with yarn (why yarn? I found it before I found my upholstery thread). Tomorrow I will pad it, and then I will have to decide what fabric I want to cover it with.

September 15, 2014

I know I've said it before... but have you noticed a theme? How much I like to procrastinate and lack focus? That is one reason why I love the HSF, it gives me enough of a framework and a deadline that I can push myself to work within. Otherwise, I am FULL of ambitious plans and zero motivation to work on them, and then I end up sewing right before the event, deep into the wee hours.

I dubbed the bonnet Thing. When I posted a picture on Facebook, I titled it "I made a Thing!" Thing sat, wired and padded with felt, fashion fabric (black satin) cut out and the crown attached to the base. It just sat. Patiently. Waiting. Eventually I moved it onto a mannequin head, where it languished again.

I thought I wouldn't be able to go to this year's train trip, being as it was quite late in the year and coincided with a festival I'd agreed to perform in. I only found out 5 days before the trip that I would be able to go after all. Some hasty arrangements were made and a ticket was available for me. Fantastic! Luckily I had a dress I hadn't yet worn on the trip all ready, I wouldn't need to hastily make anything. Except for a bustle.

But I also really wanted a hat. I found Thing's fashion fabrics easily and pulled it off the mannequin head. I finished the bustle around 9:30pm or so, and sat down to work on the bonnet. I did need to put it on hold for the evening, and picked it up again in the morning and busted my fingers getting it finished. It needs different trimming, most of this is just pinned in place, but in the meantime, I am just THRILLED that the basic bonnet is finished!

The Challenge: #7 Accessorize
Fabric: polyester satin, polyester "silk"
Pattern: Lynn McMasters' Natural Form Bonnet (view A)
Year: 1870s
Notions: plastic canvas, felt, yard, tons of thread, some fake flowers and a length of ribbon
How historically accurate is it?: In shape only.
Hours to complete: Far far too many
First worn: September 13, 2014
Total cost: Probably close to $40. (Pattern for sure was $25, plastic canvas and wire were purchased for other hat projects, the satin was leftovers from another project, and the flowers had been used at my sister's wedding, but to buy all of those pieces would easily cost the other $15)

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

My Belly Dance Journey

Hello friends! I have missed you :) I wrote most of this while taking a break from my novel writing partly because it was fighting with me, and partly because I have missed sewing and blogging so very much. I'm done writing now, and I'm happy to say I won NaNoWriMo again. I'll be back sewing very soon (as soon as I finished writing, I got a repeat plague from last year! Oh no!). I've mentioned my belly dancing in a few posts so I thought I would take this time to describe my belly dance journey.

I couldn't pinpoint a date when I first became interested in belly dance, but it was likely between 1995 and 2000. There's a good chance I saw it at an SCA event, though I can't be sure. For sure, in 2000, I attended my dad's company Christmas party with him, and it was held at a Greek restaurant and they had a belly dancer come into the room and dance for us. I was one of the people she pulled from the "audience" to dance (I was very bad at it, of course; my dad's boss was the other person pulled.)

I don't know who this lovely dancer is. Also, 20 year old me.

I spent many years thinking "Hmm, I should look into classes". I spent just as many years saying "I will call tomorrow." I have a serious issue with phones, and tomorrow always became "tomorrow", and I never did it. I saw dancers at SCA events and Greek restaurants (including a professional male belly dancer - oh, he was wonderful!), and still thought "I'll call tomorrow." I was going to dance at Isis, well-known in Edmonton as one of the best studios; actually, it was the only studio I knew of. But, I will call tomorrow.

In 2010, a couple of my friends started to dance. Ah, I wanted to join them! But, finances at the time were not conducive to doing so. I'll revisit the idea in the fall, maybe... Around this time, a bunch of my friends put together a group of us to do stuff. We always had a bunch of dresses in our closets, bought for this or that party or life event, worn once or twice and put away. Why not wear these dresses again and have tea parties? Wonderful idea! I only made it out to one party, but I met some new people, and it was a grand time.

You know how sometimes, it seems like life wants to shift yours drastically? 2012 was one of those years. I woke up on a Thursday morning in the middle of June to find out that a man was hit by a vehicle and died. I didn't know him, but the person who hit him did not stick around, and the biggest news in the city that day was the hunt for the vehicle and its owner.

I woke up the very next day, on Friday morning, to the news that three armored car guards had been shot and killed during their run the night before, with a fourth clinging to his life in hospital. What is the world coming to! Two nights in a row?! This doesn't happen in Edmonton.

It got worse. I was talking to my friend about it on Skype and she brought up that one of our friends worked for that company. She was unable to reach her, or any of her family members. It was hours before we got the news that our friend was one of the guards who had died.

The memorial "program" from the funeral. I cried when I pulled this out today.

It was almost two weeks before the funeral was held. The last time I had seen this group of friends together was at New Year's, and in just 6 months it felt like the world had been turned upside down. She passed away just two weeks before her birthday, and a mere 7 weeks after her marriage. Somehow it came up that I, and others, wanted a way to commemorate our friend's life. She was one of those people who made a room brighter just by being in it. We couldn't let her spark go out. One of our mutual friends introduced us to their belly dance teacher at the reception afterwards. "It's nice to meet you," we all said, "under the circumstances." Life had suddenly become too precious to waste another second on "I'll call tomorrow." We were going to start belly dancing, in her memory.

Three of us signed up for a trial, 4-week class in the summer. I at least had intended to take a full run of classes in the fall regardless, but was not opposed to the trial class just for funsies. It was really nice to see my friends for an hour each week for a month when I hadn't seen them for 6 months or more before the funeral. My Skype friend moved back to the city that summer and all four of us took a session together. It was one of the scariest, funnest things I've ever done. We all looked at each other when the topic of the recital came up. I normally have crippling stage fright, knees-shaking, voice shaking, when-will-it-be-over crippling stage fright. "I'll do it if you do it," we all said. So I did it. We all did it. And it was awesome.

It took a little bit longer to figure out where my dance journey was going to take me. I really liked dancing and I didn't want to stop, but I couldn't figure out why. WHY do I want to dance? I don't want to become a professional performer, even though I do recitals. I don't want to become a teacher, so what? I had always been taking classes with my friends, but the timing of getting from one end of the city to the other on public transit during winter in time for class was... an exercise in patience that I failed miserably (there was one memorable day when I would have ended up showing up at least 45 minutes late. I gave up and went home). It wasn't until I started taking level 2 classes on a different day than my friends that I figured it out.

I absolutely love to belly dance. And the only thing I need to get out of it, the only reason I need to do it, is that reason alone. It doesn't matter if I don't take it to a pro level, it doesn't matter if I decide to never perform in a recital again. I love to do it, and that is all I need out of it. And it has been wonderful. I still have a lot of things to learn; I have a lot of basic moves, and I have a lot of basic layering skills, but there is still SO MUCH I need and want to learn.

Taking belly dance classes was one of the best things I ever did for myself. My friends have stuck with it too, and I would happily dance with them every day of the week if I could.

Photo by Kazoo Productions
Kaleido Festival, September 2014

Even though I have a mental disconnect with photos of myself dancing, that the image doesn't reflect what I think I look like, I'm trying to get over that. I see photos of dancers of all shapes and sizes, and I never think anything negative about them the way that I have thought about myself. "Wow, look at her! So beautiful!" I say about them, but never about myself. But it's only in photographs. When I'm in the studio, watching myself practice, "wow, look at me! So beautiful!" I'm so proud of the things I've learned, of what I taught myself to do. My only regret is taking so long, and waiting until a day when it honestly felt like the world was falling apart, to do it.

I barely knew you, Shell, but I loved you anyway. Thank you.

Road to Costume College 2018

Gosh, where did the first half of the year go? (I know where, winter was unusually long and dark and cold, and it's effect lasted longer...