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Monthly Archives: March 2015

FAQ

I decided to add a FAQ tab at the top of my blog. Maybe it will satisfy some curious minds, and save me a little time on email. Or it could spark discussion, who knows?

Q: Are you a reenactor?

A: No. I’m a costumer that makes historical outfits and attends themed parties and other fun things, but I do not participate in Civil War reenactments, work at Renaissance Fairs, or volunteer at any Living History events.

Q: Are your costumes for sale?

A: Occasionally I will sell something I no longer wear or fit, but in general I am posting pictures to share, not to sell.

Q: If they’re not for sale, what’s with the “prices” at the bottom of your project posts?

A: That is a tally of the materials costs for a finished outfit (not including labor, of course). Unless I’m creating something extravagant, such as a silk dress, I prefer to stay under $100 for each project. Adding things up at the end keeps me accountable. The tally usually includes the fabric, lining, buttons, lace, pattern, etc.

Q: But why do we need to know how much money you spent?

A: When I started sewing in college I did not attempt to make anything “fancy.” I assumed that upper class garments made out of quality materials must be out of my price range. I hope to encourage other fledgling costumers by showing that it can be possible to make something nice without always spending hundreds of dollars (especially if you’re good at finding bargains, sales, and coupons). The hours spent are another thing entirely . . .

Q: Can I hire you to make something for me?

A: Sorry, no. I have a full-time job and a small child. If I have free time I am playing with my son, or sewing for myself when he’s asleep. Additionally, I do not have experience drafting for other people’s bodies, and you really would be better off hiring a local professional.

Q: Can you give me an idea of how much it would cost to hire a seamstress?

A: Please remember that commissioning a custom item will cost you far more than the usual ready-made clothes you may be used to buying in a store.  You cannot get couture for prêt-à-porter prices. For a commission you will be paying an hourly wage x the number of hours required to make an outfit + the cost of materials. For example, a Victorian ballgown bodice and skirt with hand-sewn embellishments may take 30 hours, including the time spent washing, ironing, patterning, and cutting out the fabric and lining. If someone charges $20 an hour and you choose $200 worth of fabric and trim, you might pay $800, although the cost will vary depending on the person and project.

Q: So I can hire you for $20 an hour?

A: Nice try, but no. And I’m not implying that $20/hour is what you should pay for a commission. Each seamstress or tailor sets their own rate.

Q: Do you make any money off this blog?

A: Nope. Sometimes you might see ads at the bottom of a page, but that’s because I’m too cheap to pay for the upgraded version of WordPress.

Sheer Striped Chemise a la Reine

My next project is something I’ve been planning for a while, but only have about a month left to finish!

More than a year ago I bookmarked the painting “Portrait of a Lady with a Book, Next to a River Source” by Antoine Vestier, from about 1785.

445px-Antoine_vestier_-_retrato_de_For the Rite of Spring Ball our Hopeless Romantics group is turning into “Our Favorite Things.” We are doing a “Girls in White Dresses with Blue Satin Sashes” theme for April. This dress is perfect, but now I’m running out of time!

To recreate the outfit I will be wearing a cotton voile chemise a la reine, and a sheer striped silk overdress.

I had a hard time finding the right sheer fabric. I found many fabrics where the stripes were much too wide, or much too thin, and most of them were synthetic. I finally found a 1 inch wide striped sheer silk organza in a nice ivory color.

IMG_3551I am in the process of draping the voile. I studied a lot of blogs, and Nora Waugh’s pattern, but will be making my dress according to what makes sense to me (translation: what’s the easiest way), and combining construction ideas from various dresses.

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DIY Oberyn Martell-inspired Costume

I had a number of months notice for the recent Game of Thrones wine-tasting event, so I was able to sew my dress from scratch. I had a little less notice for my husband’s outfit, since he never goes with me to costumed events, but he was swayed by the wine and cheese. Given the time crunch, I had to get creative about upcycling some items into a costume inspired by Oberyn Martell.

I chose the Prince because essentially he wears a very fancy bathrobe. That is easier to fit than some of the more tailored things worn by the other characters, and definitely a lot easier to make than armor.

martellI needed 3 main pieces: a yellow robe, orange shirt, and snakeskin belt. I decided to buy mundane clothing as a base and modify them. Given that my husband probably intended to only wear the outfit once, I did not want to put a huge amount of time and money into it.

I did not have time to go hunting in brick-and-mortar thrift stores, so I went to the world’s largest garage sale – eBay. Although most of the gold bathrobes were very thin polyester “silk” robes, or heavy terrycloth toweling robes, I got lucky and found something in between. I purchased a gold patterned satin robe that was lined with fleece (perfect for the cold wine cellars).  Here it is before I started cutting into it.

IMG_3780It was a little shinier than I wanted, but the Prince does wear some shiny things.

martell2I also purchased a men’s orange dress shirt with a standing collar, and a snakeskin-print leather belt.

(Update 10/12/15: Amazon sells the same shirt I used. Affiliate link:  Ed Garments men’s banded collar shirt in “rust” color).

The changes I made:

  1. I removed the collar and belt of the robe, and cut the neckline down to expose more chest!
  2. I put wide gold contrast bands around the opening of the robe and the cuffs using leftover taffeta from my gown.
  3. I cut off some of the orange shirt’s collar, and also widened the neckline into a V.
  4. I put skinny gold contrast bands around the opening of the shirt. Since the sleeves and bottom of the shirt were not going to show, I left all the modern plastic buttons on.
  5. I purchased iron-on embroidered patches reminiscent of the sun patches on Oberyn’s robe, and placed 10 of them down the front and on the sleeves of the robe.
  6. I sewed gold buttons onto each of the patches.

DSCN1413I originally planned on removing the cuffs and making the sleeves more fitted, in order to more closely resemble Oberyn’s robe, but my husband said he wanted to keep the cuffs and baggy sleeves. He also asked for the buttons to be on each patch, while the TV version has the metal stud embellishments on some of the embroidery only.DSCN1478 If this was a more serious costume, I think leggings and boots would have been more appropriate, but again, it didn’t make sense to buy boots for a one-time use. Besides, my husband likes to dress casually, and having him wear his own shoes and pants with a fancy robe seemed like a good compromise.

My costs went up because I had to pay shipping for everything, but if you have the time to go thrift-shop hunting you may be able to get a better deal. Nearly everything is from eBay.

  • Heavy gold robe: $19.99 + $9.50 shipping
  • 10 embroidered patches: $15.70 + $2.75 shipping
  • Orange button-down shirt: $6.00 + $3.00 shipping
  • Real leather (but faux snakeskin) belt: $5.95 + $0 shipping
  • Buttons: from the stash

Total: $62.89

Easy 1830s Hair! (Plus Instructions)

Last week I went to a PEERS ball set in the 1830s/1840s: the Dances of Mystery and Imagination, hosted by Edgar Allen Poe.

The Hopeless Romantics had a mini-reunion there. Last time I wore my 1830s gown I had a full wig, which looked nice, but was very warm.

This time, I decided to make a new hairpiece and incorporate a raven, in honor of Mr. Poe. I built everything on a headband, so it was very easy to put on and take off. (I also got a lot of amused cackling when I took my hair off at the ball to show everyone what looked like fancy earmuffs!)  The headband made it much easier to get dressed, and to get in and out of a car.

IMG_3883As you can see, the raven has the stylish 1830s Apollo knots!

IMG_3885IMG_3880IMG_3879 I did not take any photos of the construction process, but I hope it’s easy to visualize.

1. I wrapped a headband with black velvet ribbon, and sewed the ends in place.

2. I wired the feet of a dollar store Halloween decoration raven to the middle of the headband.

3. I made 2 fake hair buns. Each one consisted of a long braid that was coiled into a cinnamon bun shape, sewn into place, then covered with a chignon hairnet for security. (I used “Sassy Collection” brand fake braid hair from Sally Beauty Supply because it is cheap and decently realistic for the price).

4. I hotglued (yes glued) the buns onto each side of the hairband.

5. I hotglued some flowers to cover the rest of the hairband.

6. I did some more squiggles of hot glue on the inside of the hairband and buns. Once dry, the rubbery texture provides a little more grip.

7. I gave the raven a little hairstyle by pinning 2 loops of velvet ribbon and a fake flower into his foam head.

Fast, easy, and pretty.

I think Mr. Poe approves, sort of.

IMG_3835

Plus it’s shareable hair! Here is Sam, from Overattired.com, looking like a pretty pretty princess.

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More Game of Thrones Photos at the Castello di Amorosa

Last week I posted photos of my Kings Landing Dress, but here are some more pictures from the GBACG Game of Thrones wine-tasting event at the Castello di Amorosa.

The castle is gorgeous! Here is an interior courtyard. I wish I remembered to take more exterior shots, but I focused on the costumes since this is my second time to the castle.

DSCN1481This is looking down from the entrance to the castle.

DSCN1405We turned around to take a photo near the gate.

DSCN1399Kim and David had very nice matching outfits.

DSCN1403Aimee had a beautiful dress with unicorn embroidery!

DSCN1433These ladies had amazing hair!

DSCN1461Jean and Christopher are such a cute couple.DSCN1424  Gunther posed in the dungeons.DSCN1448And ran into an Ellaria Sand in one of the cask rooms.

DSCN1459Ann as Brienne was marvelous. DSCN1463We felt a chill from the White Walker.DSCN1467

There were lovely frescoes in the castle.DSCN1441The doorways varied in size.

DSCN1479I loved the architectural details.

DSCN1471And there were lots of nice long corridors.

DSCN1421

Game of Thrones Kings Landing Dress at the Castello di Amorosa

This weekend I went to a wine tasting event at the Castello di Amorosa in Calistoga, CA. The theme was Game of Thrones, and there were many lovely costumes!

I finished putting the embroidery on my King’s Landing dress and wore it to the event. My husband wore an Oberyn Martell-inspired costume I made for him. The venue was really beautiful, and it was a great place to take pictures and have fun.

I loved this door.

IMG_1707Here is the completed dress, which was made using McCall’s M6940 pattern. Due to the large amount of yardage in the dress I used faux silk dupioni (teal) and faux silk taffeta (gold). The sleeves are lined in the same gold fabric as the side gores, which were flatlined with random mystery fabric from my stash to give it some body.

DSCN1509

As discussed in my previous post, I raised the hip gores, added a contrast band around the neckline, and eliminated the ties in the front, but did not modify the pattern much.

DSCN1505Oops, my back tie has come undone.

DSCN1508The belt and embroidery on the shoulders and back are pieced from an old sari fragment I bought on eBay.   The sari had a repeating motif that was not mirrored, so I could not get a perfectly symmetrical design. Instead, I cut up the pieces and rearranged them to get the shape I wanted.DSCN1507The belt was done in a bit of a hurry, freehand, without any measuring or marking prior to cutting or sewing. It’s slightly uneven, so I might go back to it some day.

DSCN1510Underneath I wore a lighter gold silk dupioni petticoat that I borrowed from a previous project. The petticoat was mean to accommodate 18th century panniers, so I had to use some safety pins to get it to be the right length. When I have time, I’d like to make a petticoat specifically for this dress. I think the light gold provided a nice contrast when the skirt opened when I walked.

I did not have time to make a wig or hairpiece, so I wore peacock feathers in my hair. Here I am on a tower with my husband, and I will discuss how I put together his outfit in a future post. My next post will be some more pictures of the castle, and the other guests!

DSCN1499DSCN1469Project costs

  • 6 yards of teal faux dupioni + 5 yards of gold faux taffeta: $46.64, including tax and shipping from Fabric.com (Hooray for coupons and sales! I still have 2 yards of the teal left over).
  • 4 yards of sari trim: $31.96 including shipping from India through eBay. (I bought much more than I used because at one point I thought I would trim the sleeves as well).
  • Pattern: $6.50
  • Thread and lining for the gores: from the stash

Total: $85.10