Monday, February 6, 2017

dusts off some cobwebs.....

Well it looks like I may have neglected my blog just a little bit....ok, just a lot. Lets try again shall we.

I am still working on the Toledo gown, and am now down to the last half dozen large gold pieces in terms of the couching, then a few of the smaller pieces and then its on to the gold on black couching. I can actually see that there is an end in sight. Aiming for the SCA Lochac May Crown event, which will be held near Perth, Western Australia. So if you want to see the dress finished and worn, this is the event (and Anealan/Abertridwr hospitality is famous).

Can't wait to start assembling the dress.

Monday, January 19, 2015

January Update

So, as promised, a new month a new blog post...with pictures even.

I am participating in the Historic Sew Monthly Challenge (  and the first challenge is Foundations, so I thought I would make an 1865 elliptical Cage Crinoline using the Truly Victorian pattern TV103. The pattern was super easy to transfer onto Vilene (to preserve the original pattern for future use) and construct and some 20 hours later ...voila, one lovely crinoline. Now I just need to finish a corset, some petticoats and a dress to wear over it. The dress will have to wait till the March challenge.

Over the Christmas break I also did some work to a couple of Disney princess costumes I am making for a costume group I am joining that does a lot of charity work, visits hospitals etc.

Snow white is progressing, but the skirt is just too full when compared to the original Disney version, so I have taken two panels off the back and am reshaping the skirt panels to give less fullness at the waist without loosing too much fullness at the hem.

There has also been progress on a tulle petticoat for under the Cinderella dress. 20m of silver bridal tulle in 9 layers.
I have also been making a cotton under dress similar to the 16c kirtles I wear under my Elizabethan clothing. It makes it so much easier to fit over bodices when you have a consistent shape underneath - does that make any sense? The bodice will be boned, probably with a mix of flat and spiral steel to give the support I am after. The skirt is in two layers cut in a full circle trimmed with a frill on each layer. I am hoping that this will help hold the over skirts out a bit more. Pictures of this one to come.
After fitting the under bodice, I will have to take in the blue Snow White bodice a little, between 1.5 and 2cm depending on seams. the shoulder seams will have to be dropped a little as well. 

And because it was coming up to a new year, I thought I should try a new dress pattern. This is the Vogue Badgley Mishka pattern V1374 and literally took me 4 hours to transfer pattern to Vilene and get to this stage (hems and binding left to do) it has a lovely cowl back and the fit is just amazing....did I mention 4 hours? At this point I threw it in the washing machine and left it to hang so any stretching can take place before I finish the hem....nope, still haven't finished it lol. But I did make a second version in blue jersey, knee length and I raised the back a little so I can wear it to work.

In an effort to be organised, I have also created a table of all of the projects and events I would like to either make or attend this year. The other thing I am doing is keeping a sewing diary to keep track of what I do or don't do on a daily basis, so I can get an idea of how much time things take and cost. Both are already starting to have benefits. I remembered what I have done so I could do a blog post and I have ordered some supplies for future projects, although this year I am going to try and work my way through some of my existing stash.

And lastly, one of the projects I finished off in November was a sad clown tutufor a lovely ballerina.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

What do you mean it's December already!

Well it seems like the year has flown by and I haven't posted anything since January....ooops. I have been busy doing all sorts of exciting sewing projects, moving house, working my daily 9-5 job and just watching the year scream on terribly sorry if you have been checking in regularly, because apparently I haven't.

New Years resolution. ..... Blog at least once a month.

I read a few blogs and find the, so useful and inspiring, I really should be sharing more of what I'm doing in return.

Some of the things I have been doing/learning this year, making tutus for a friends daughter and one for myself for a figure skating competition ( small, end of term class comp, don't expect to see me in the Olympics any time soon), learned stretch sewing for my figure skating costumes, a sixteenth century German dress and hat, remaking some Italian style dresses into Elizabethan ones I'll actually wear, and at the moment making some Disney princess dresses.

But if your worried you have missed the great unveiling of THE dress, yes the never ending Eleanora of Toledo gown, never's still not finished. I really must get stuck into that again. I'll get it set up on its frame again to finish the couching as soon as I sort out the new sewing room.

Next year really should be about finishing off some long term projects, making the Fairy Godmother's dress from the new Cinderella movie, a Melisandra dress for a Game of Thrones cosplay with friends and probably whatever else takes my fancy :) there will definatley be more ice skating costumes and tutus :)

So again, huge apologies to everyone who has been checking in. I'll try to write more next year. Till then (I may post some pics if this years projects later) stay safe and have a fabulously creative festive season x

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Well hello 2014

It seems the more I try to get done, the quicker the days run away. Oh well.....what have I been up too? Casting lots of buttons - 80 have been sent over to Laura for her Eleanora Dress and I have run out of metal so need to get into the city to get some more so I can cast the rest of mine.

Sartor, a Czechoslovakian company has just released a woven version of the Eleanora fabric. It is quite different to mine, but equally as beautiful, the photo doesn't do it justice. I had to buy some ... just to compare it. It wont be made into an Italian style dress though, I have something more Elizabethan in mind for it.

I don't often purchase fabric online, preferring to feel the weight and texture of fabrics rather than look at them online, however the two companies I have dealt with recently for online purchases have been fabulous and deserve a mention:
  • Sartor - the Eleanora and "Swans and Lions" fabrics. beautiful fabric and great customer service; and
  • Kutwell Fabric in Christchurch NZ. I came across some blue wool fabric via a photo on FB, contacted them Monday via email and fabric arrived on Friday. So easy to work with and beautiful fabric.
I have also been busy working on some pretty dresses for work and a few costuming projects that are going to evolve over the year, some 20's, 30's and 40's outfits, a proposal for an artist in residency program and more historical costuming just because I can. Now that I have a new laptop (my other one a most inconvenient time) I shall endeavour to be more diligent about posting updates.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Button success

Success. The buttons are casting nicely :) I have the quantity of metal just about right and the next step will be making more moulds so I can cast a few at a time. 

The basic process is as follows:
The mould is dusted with talk then warmed under a wheat bag while the metal is melted over a low gas flame. When the metal is melted nicely and really fluid I heat the lip of the mini fry pan crucible and quickly pour the molten metal into the mould, wait a minute or so and then lift the new button out. 

The consistency is pretty good, though if you look closely, no two are identical, which is kind of the point of hand crafted things. 

I will be undercoating them in a mat black paint, then spraying them in a nice gold paint and dry rushing with an antique gold to bring out the highlights. Then I'll attach button backs and pop them on the as yet unfinished sleeves :).

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Has it really been that long?

Oops, its been ages since I posted here. But in my defence I have been doing all sorts of stuff, some of it is even interesting.

I finally made a mould for the Eleanora buttons. I seated the prototype button in a plasticine base and make a collar out of plastic before pouring a 2 part non vulcanising rubber over it to form the mould. I kept my fingers crossed overnight as the rubber set and hoped like mad that I hadn't just destroyed one of the prototypes in the process. Apart from a little bit of the rubber seeping under the edge of the button which had to be trimmed away, the button released from the mould really well and I have a mould ready for casting :)

I have also been teaching myself to make felt and shape hats, this my first attempt at both. Its a little thin in places on the top and I can see where i need to felt it better, but it has shaped up ok and with a coat of shellac to add some extra stiffness, I think it will be ok :) More decoration to follow.
I used a Hat Shaper plastic hat form, which have an Australian supplier in Tasmania, so postage was both quicker and speedier than having to get one (or two) from the US.

I am currently working on making a couple of Spanish 16th c dresses, starting with remaking a Farthingale. I had used a commercial Tudor undergarments pattern and measurements from Alcega (via but it just looked too big. After a bit of help from the Elizabethan Costuming Facebook group (fantastic bunch of people, very generous with their amazing skills and knowledge) adjusted the hoops down quite a bit for a better shape. I used spring steel boning in the hoops to hold the shape, 11mm spiral steel just didn't cut it. I will find the before and after pictures and add them later.

The first Spanish dress is a remake of an Elizabethan dress I made way back in 2007 when I really had no idea what i was doing, and it will be made up as an early 16th c Spanish number. I am using Margo Anderson's Elizabethan wardrobe pattern. I need a new pair of bodies for both, so will be making up the Dorothea bodies from Janet Arnold's Patterns of Fashion, probably with spiral steel boning - ill see how it fits.

The second Spanish dress will be a late 16th c style with a doublet bodice. I found this amazing fabric at and its a reproduction of a piece of 16thc Spanish silk in the Metropolitan Museum and is described as swans and lions - not pelicans - which is a good thing because pelicans in their piety are a restricted charge in the Society for Creative Anachronism...which would have caused some issues as I am not a member of the Order of the Pelican. More details on these as they progress. But isn't the fabric Divine :)

Somewhere I have pictures of a gown I whipped up for a "Not as it seems" feast.....ill add these later.

Talk like a Pirate Day in Fremantle was a lot of fun despite the weather being somewhat windy and wet. I made a little redingote jacket to wear. I had everything except for the buttons in my sewing room. The coat is made up of :
  • a red wool outer fabric
  • interlined with a fairly stiff woven interfacing down to the waist
  • lined with an imitation silk.
  • velveteen collar and cuffs
  • metallic ribbon and braid for the trim.
I used a Truly Victorian pattern as a base and cut away the shape i wanted and added a little on the side. I found the pattern really easy to work with and the pattern pieces went together so nicely, I will be using that pattern/company again. I wore it with a Blond Swan hat which is just too awesome for words. I wore the coat with jeans and boots because of the muddy grass (and I didn't want to pressure sew a skirt just before the event) and a white brocade corset. Just ignore the kirtle its sitting over, I was too lazy to undress my mannequin.

What else? a '20's number for "A Saucy Little Secret" at The Ellington Jazz Club - great show - and some more couching on the EoT skirt. Lots of variety and not much blogging. Ill try to do better :)

Sunday, May 5, 2013


Apparently I cannot add a word or pdf document...sigh. So I have cut and paste the text from my documentation into the section labeled....Documentation. It is, like the dress, a work in progress and as I really have not documented any of my work before, I would be interested in your thoughts and comments. I will add in the images as time permits, because they wouldn't cut and paste.

And I am still couching.....though I may have been distracted by a black and gold german number.