Monday, 28 May 2007

Pirates of the Carribean, At World's End

Aaaarrrgh ! Members of the Australian Costumers' Guild attended a screening of the movie at Parramatta Great Union in suitable piratey garb. Here I am in all my glorious "pirate wenchieness" back at home after the movie, which I thoroughly enjoyed and recommend to all. Might even go again, in costume, just for the fun of wearing it again ! I do have a decent collection of costume "bits" in my spare wardrobe suitable for such occasions, so was able to put together quite a nice pirate wenchy look. I modified the straw hat to make a tricorn, and I bought a scorpion necklace and a black scarf, total cost of outfit $20. I made the stomacher at the last minute, and thought I'd share the making of it in a little tutorial, see posts below. The same method was used in my Elizabeth I costume bodice in an earlier post.

The Stomacher Project, or How to Make a Quick Pirate Wench

To set the scene, I was invited to attend a screening of "Pirates of the Carribean 3" with members of the Australian Costumers Guild (see link at sidebar) on Saturday night last. I cobbled together an outfit from skirts, a wenchy blouse and a brocadey vest which used to fit well, but alas, no longer would. So on Friday night at 8 p.m. I decided I needed a stomacher to fill the gap and look a little more "authentic" for the 1770 ish period. I looked up the period in Nancy Bradfields "Costume in Detail" and found just the thing. Next I searched the stash for some suitable fabric, discarded several, and settled on some ribbed cotton / viscose blended linen look with a fairly dense weave so the boning wouldn't poke through. I made a very rough pattern using the measurments in the book as a guide and cut out my 2 pieces. As this was a spur of the moment job, I used the "boning" material at hand in the stash, see below for details.

Sewing started

Stitch the layers together, right sides together, with a narrow seam leaving top open for bone insertion. Turn through and press. On the wrong side mark the centre front with a faint pencil line. Using a small stitch, sew from bottom to top along this line, then change to zipper foot. Insert first trimmed and smoothed bone into the stomacher and with your nail press it up against the stitched line. Line up the zipper foot alongside and smoothing and adjusting as you go stitch along the bone. This should give a snug boning channel. When all the bones are sewn you can slip the top ends out to trim and neaten if needed. Now work on the other side of the centre line, alternating sides each time. Repeat the boning insertion, smoothing and stitching with zippper foot until you fill the stomacher completely. Some bones will need radical shaping at the bottom to match the shape of stomacher, remember to smooth edges with sandpaper as well. I like to alternate stitching directions from bottom to top and vice versa each time to avoid layer puckering. I don't use pins at all, I don't need them but it's a personal choice. I prefer this method to marking a line using the boning and stitching along that, the zipper foot should avoid any needle breakage problems. This is a very quick method of making boning channels.

Partially boned, showing materials used

The stomacher partially boned, using the materials in my stash. At the top of photo 1/4 inch ribbed clear plastic boning removed from its sewn cotton casing, bought at Spotlight by the metre. Cut ends were sanded with coarse sandpaper to round them and prevent poking through as much as possible. The 6/8 inch yellow plastic below it was used when I ran out of the clear version - packing strips used to tie up a new exercise bike box (not mine I hasten to add!) It will do for this project since it will be worn rarely. I did notice the whole thing moulded nicely to my shape by the end of the evening, but reverted to straight eventually.

The finished product

Completed stomacher with 2 rows gimp braid sewn by hand below binding. The straight piece of self-binding is machined along top edge on right side then folded over and turned under and hand sewed on back after trimming tops of bones well below seam line. Click on photo to enlarge to see where I made thread "eyes" in position on side top to allow hooks on vest to hold stomacher in place while lacing up and to prevent gaping while wearing. A theatrical trick, mentioned in the Hunisett books "Theatrical Costume for Stage and Screen", I think.

Thursday, 17 May 2007

Repairing history

I've had a wonderful time this last few days. See below for more details.

Repairing history - c. 1900 Lace Dress

As a volunteer at Cavalcade of History and Fashion (link on sidebar) I am sometimes asked to repair the clothing in the collection for upcoming presentations and displays. This week I've been working on the 2 piece Battenburg lace gown worn by our M.C. Comprising a satin petticoat, lace skirt and separate bodice the gown is a masterpiece of period engineering. The bodice at some stage in its life was tacked permanently onto a camisole top and is made of lengths of lace and motifs sewn together by hand in large back stitches. Over the years it has been repaired many, many times, probably by the original owner and then by various conservators. The background net is cotton or silk while the lace is most likely cotton or linen thread. There are appliques of what appears to be silk satin, with raw edges on the wrong side and the Battenburg lace appliqued around on the skirt. There are little beaded "dangles" on the bodice, and 4 boned stays in the lace collar to hold it upright. The back of the bodice closes with period hooks and thread eyes, the latter which I had to repair. I patched more of the silk camisole lining which is shattering under the arms and over the bust and has already had many repairs. This gown is not the only example of its type in the collection, and therefore is being worn to showcase how it moves on a real body.

Tuesday, 1 May 2007

A Really Nice Surprise

I've just received written notification that my name has been submitted and I have been chosen as a recipient of a Fellowship to the "Australian Institute of History and Arts" for Costume Design and Construction. This is "a society which recognises the talents of people who are recognised as leaders in their chosen field" I think I know who nominated me, and I am quite honoured to be among such esteemed company as Kevin Fahey, adviser to National Trust on cedar and silver, Werner Filipitsch australian artist, and Edgar Penzig, author and historian. I will be entitled to use initials FAIHA after my name if I chose to. I feel very humble that my work, especially in the field of historical reproduction costumes, has been recognised. The dinner and award presentation take place in late July. Perhaps I should design a suitable costume to wear? I have some lovely black and tan striped silk yardage that I planned to turn into an 1890's costume. Just have to finalise the design....