Sunday, August 14, 2016

HSM '16: #2 Tucks and Pleating: Market Hat

At the end of January, I got an opportunity to volunteer for a local Regency event, to which I enthusiastically agreed shortly into February. I immediately started planning my gown, wanting to both wear my new stays, and also not wear last year's gown for the 4th time in a row. Not the least because last year's gown has a lower back, and my stays would be very visible over the neckline. Oops?

I wondered how I could possibly fit my gown and/or accessories into the challenge theme. It only occurred to me late in the month that the pleating required to fit the skirt width into the center back would absolutely qualify, because up until then, I had already started another item that was "done enough" to also work. And, I think, be more suitable, since the challenge info states "make a garment that features tucks and pleating for the shape or decoration", and this item is most definitely shaped by the pleats.

Introducing: The Market Hat!

You've likely seen some version of this hat around the internet before. I first saw it way back in summer 2013, in photos of the Curtain-Along meet-up at Costume College that year. Oh, what a lovely hat Loren wore! Then, in 2014, I realized I needed a similar hat in order to recreate an art piece for the Art Challenge (which I still have yet to complete). Where could I find a pattern for such an enchanting object?

At the time there wasn't many. I scoured the internet and came up with a few ideas -- Kannik's Korner has a similar item, that I could probably use to suit my needs, and The Sign of the Golden Scissors. But, both of them seemed awfully expensive at the time, especially since I couldn't find shipping rates. I thought I might get around to developing my own pattern, if I ever decided on what I was actually looking at. I had a hard time imagining the 3D object laid out like a 2D pattern, so I put off thinking about it for a long, long time.

I did not get around to drafting one. My chosen pattern was not any less expensive, but several factors made it the best option. Maggie of Undressing the Historical Lady put out a pattern in between these two in cost, and unlike the others, was a print-at-home pattern, so at least I wouldn't have to pay shipping! That pushed into the "best option" category, in fact, and I bought it last summer when the exchange rate was sliiiiightly more reasonable than it is now.

I tried to look at options for the brim board at Michael's, but all I could find was a humongous sheet of material that I didn't feel comfortable purchasing, even if I used a coupon. It was 24" x 36" and I only needed a fraction of that. I used a found-item from work that would otherwise have been recycled, sheets of super thin cardboard that came on top of a stack of loose paper to protect it. But since they were only 8.5" x 11", I had to use several sheets (three, in fact) to get a piece wide enough and stable enough to go into the brim. And even though I followed the directions for the brim, pressing in my seam allowances and stitching by hand, my brim board was just too big to fit into it. I had to trim and trim and trim until I could stitch up the seam allowance for the caul to attach to. (I take full responsibility for this issue. The pattern pieces fit just fine together, and I think my board ended up being thicker than the recommended material which took away from the fabric too much.)

The caul's shape, as directed in the pattern, is achieved entirely by pleating. One could theoretically play with the pleats, how many and how deep, to achieve a different look. I have 9 pleats on either side of a central box pleat. And then I immediately had to run to the mirror to try it on!


It's been languishing ever since, waiting for the final two steps (finishing the caul/brim seam and then decorating), but I would not feel bad about wearing it should the need arise at this exact moment. I used some of the leftover fabric, actually in a separate cut, for one of my accessories for my ball outfit, but saved the rest from this cut to make a "ribbon" to decorate with. Partly complicated by the fact that I could not find my pinking shears for most of the month. They had decided, for the last 6 months, to make their home with my partner-in-crime.

And since this post is ONLY 6 months late (HA!), it still hasn't been finished... and I've misplaced the spare fabric... but I could still totally wear it right this moment!

The Challenge: #2 Tucks & Pleats
Fabric: 100% polyester
Pattern: 18th Century Bonnet/Market Hat
Year: late 18th century
Notions: thread, ribbon, bias tape, thin cardboard
How historically accurate is it?: Looks great! I don't know if this type of cardboard was being produced in-era, and we won't even touch polyester.
Hours to complete: 10 or so.
First worn: Not yet
Total cost: $27 CDN for the pattern, materials were all free-to-me! I would expect to spend roughly $30-$40 CDN (without the pattern) on this if I were to buy all new materials. Silk is difficult to get in Edmonton, and with the exchange rate being so poor right now, even "cheap" silk is expensive to ship in. Americans might be able to do this project for under $20 US.

Want to admire more market hats? Maggie's own market hat, which you can see on the Etsy listing, is also visible here at American Duchess; Lauren of American Duchess has a lovely one (this is more of a research page, so be sure to click through to entries at the beginning of July to see the finished item in action!); The Couture Courtesan has a beautiful piece made from her own pattern; Peryn's gorgeous hat (and dress); and so did Festive Attyre with Maggie's pattern. Got more? I'd love to see them! Even after looking at them all summer, I still think this hat is adorable!

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Adventures in Cosplay: Jareth the Goblin King

Shortly after David Bowie's death earlier this year (I won't go into how much his death affected me -- I "met" him at all the wrong moments in my life, but I still loved him), my partner-in-crime, Nicole, asked if I would be her Goblin King at our spring convention. She thought that the time was right to make her Sarah ballgown costume (something that had been on her to-do list for the past 10 years), and course she needed a Goblin King.


Photo by T.T.

Of course I said yes ;)

We purchased 5 metres of teal taffeta and a metric butt-ton of jewels in blue, black and silver (this is a very technical measurement), and got to work. I created the shirt, jabot, vest, and coat, and wore a pair of black pants and boots I already owned. Nicole sourced the wig, and spent around 40 hours (with some assistance from other friends) gluing jewels to the coat.

It was quite an experience. The sewing itself was very easy, if time-intensive. While I have decided that writing and posting about my mental health is not the ideal way to deal with it, I do want to touch on it briefly. I started experiencing full-blown anxiety attacks in the middle of this sewing, and I was finally self-aware enough to recognize them as such. It's been quite a roller coaster ride, learning to manage them, and I have a long way to go yet. They seriously coloured the creation and wearing of this costume.

I started with McCalls 6818, a Once Upon a Time costume pattern, modifying the skirt, collar, sleeves and cuffs. The shirt was made with Simplicity 4923, with a lot of width taken out of the body and sleeves. The jabot is a rectangle with circular ruffles sewn to it, and a fun necklace part on top. The vest is a pillow case with some nice floral mesh sewn on top. The final touch was to sew a string of blue LED lights to the edges, to go with Nicole's lighted skirt. I ended up sewing them on the night before I wore it. Not recommended. One of my ongoing costume goals is "no last minute sewing", but I really didn't make it for this con. Next time! I will strive to do better.

The day we wore them, I used a YouTube tutorial to create my makeup, and eventually we set out to the con. We had entered the costume contest in the master category. While I usually don't enter contests, Nicole wanted to, so I figured I could do it this time, and she has won more than enough contests to place her squarely in the master category. That was its own set of fun (part of the anxiety manifests as stage fright...) but we (ok, myself, mostly) got through it and then we had to wait for the results.


Photo by T.T.


Photo by T.T.


Photo by T.T.

I was a little surprised that we won best in class: craftsmanship, and then even more surprised when we won best in show as well. It really made all of the stress and headaches of the construction and sewing at 11pm and removing part of my eyebrows worth it.


Accepting our Best in Show award. Photo by Calgary Expo crew.

We even had someone make fan art of our pictures! Some of the nicest things people said to me over the weekend was how much I looked like David Bowie, and I didn't quite realize it myself until I saw this manipulation of the movie poster and myself side by side. Super thanks to that YouTube tutorial!


I'm so sorry, I don't know your name, awesome person! Please let me know so I can credit you!

Honestly, the experience was not my ideal situation, but it was so amazing at the same time. We waited a long time before going on stage, with others in our category, and everyone was so nice and so supportive of each other. After the contest was over, as we left, we got delayed over and over as people stopped us to congratulate us. People reached out to me on Facebook with the same, both people I know and total strangers, and I felt really connected to the cosplay community. It was really wonderful, and I am glad I took part in it (shhh don't tell Nicole. She'll make remove part of my eyebrows again! ;)) Thank you, everyone, so much, for creating a welcoming and warm community where even anxiety-ridden oldies like me feel at home.

HSM '15 #6: Out of Your Comfort Zone:1840's Dress, Part 3

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