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 www.renaiassancetailor.com) 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 www.sartor.cz 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.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

......and still couching

The couching is progressing, there are only 28 gold motifs left to do on the skirt, and then its on to the gold couching. Incredibly time consuming but slowly progressing towards finishing the skirt.

Lots of projects running along side this one, (photos to come soon) including an elegant evening gown for an awards dinner, a goth Lolita costume ( with aspects of roccoco  and bustle dress in there too) an elizabethan outfit for a friend, teaching basic tunic dress construction to a few people...and the list goes on.

Hopefully my next post will be a celebration of completing the black on gold couching, but till then, enjoy a pic of my elizabethan hat worn with the superbly divine caul made by the supremely talented Laura at http://rockingthefrock.com/ 

Monday, January 28, 2013

and still couching....

So I have been diligently working on the skirt almost every day in the last couple of weeks...except for one Sunday due to a migraine :(.  I did learn to take breaks every half hour and the headaches and eye strain seem to have eased. People are getting quite used to me sewing in the lunch room.

I have been concentrating on couching the black threads onto the gold fabric and have finished the motifs on the top of the skirt and around 1/4 of the side/back. So not much to update really, lots of work done, lots more to go.

On a side note, I made a late 15c German Kampfrau dress to wear to our annual Christmas fundraiser and also so I could show some lovely ladies how to make one (i thought I should make one before teaching it lol). I wore it again to our Midsummer feast a couple of weeks ago and managed to make sure I got a reasonable picture. Having worn it a couple of times, I plan on making some adjustments and adding a black trim to the neckline. But that will have to wait until after Eleanora is finished.