"To live in the world without becoming aware of the meaning of the world is like wandering about in a great library without touching the books.".....The Secret Teachings of All Ages

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

In The Meantime...The Linen/Lace Tank Top

I bought this linen tank top for $3.99 at the Goodwill (big surprise), knowing that I would do something with it, as it was a nice blank canvass. It's been in my closet, quietly waiting for me to make up my mind just what I would do to jazz it up a bit.

Enter Pinterest, with a major eye-candy bohemian/gypsy site, and the creative juices really started to percolate. I decided, after drooling over the clothing, rooms, and those amazing gypsy wagons, that there must be some residual hippie in me yet ( I graduated from High School in 1967). There were many clothing items decorated with lots of antique lace and beads. Shazzam! I've had a stash of old lace for a long time, so pulled out the linen tank, what lace I had, and started playing around.

Here is what I have decided on so far. I suspect more lace will be added to this tank as time goes on, especially around the bottom. But for now, I will sew this old lace yoke piece (given to me years ago by a friend) to the tank, then add beads and crystals. So much fun to be had by recycling stuff from the Goodwill. Warning...it is addictive once you start. You see possibilities EVERYWHERE!

Linen tank top and old lace blouse yoke.

This is how I will sew the lace to the tank. The narrow band at the top of the lace will be sewn down, but the lace below the band will be left loose. I think I will add crystals to the bottom of each lace point, to weight them down a bit, so they hang nicely.

Here are some closeups of the lace. I'm thinking of calling this the Gypsy Lace Tank. Sounds much more exotic and romantic than just Linen/Lace Tank Top.

And just for fun, here is a photo of my work table, which is in the garage, with both the Belle Epoch Short Dress, and the Linen/Lace Tank laid out, ready to start work on. Actually, I have already started on the Belle Epoch Short Dress, as the bottom of the shirt in the lower right has already been cut off. Please ignore the pile of couch throws waiting to be tossed in the washing machine. LOL

Monday, May 20, 2013

Next Project...Belle Epoque Inspired AC Short Dress

Okay, I have stated here many times (dozens, hundreds...) that I love vintage clothing, especially the Belle Epoch. There is a certain style of dress from that period that I especially love, and thought might be adaptable to modern wear, by incorporating it into the Alabama Chanin style, plus a technique I saw in Altered Couture where you add cotton shirt bottoms to knit tops. Put them all together, and I hope to get something unique and fun to wear.

Here is the inspiration.

The dress on the upper left is by Wendy Firmin, and pictured in the Feb/Mar/Apr issue of Altered Couture. She calls them Baby Doll dresses, as does AC of the dress pictured at the bottom (the one in gray is the one I am referring to in this project). I've already stated that anyone my age is not going to wear anything called "baby doll." I'd feel silly. The dress on the upper right is a costume from the Russian Ballet of that period, but is the same style as many of the dresses of that era. This is just the best example I could find this morning, but the style was used on everything from evening dresses to walking suits.

My idea is to make the top of the dress out of a T-shirt I bought at the Goodwill, as was the cotton man's shirt I will use for the bottom—actually, all the pieces for this came from the Goodwill (love that place!). My dress will have short sleeves and a higher neck than the AC dress. Also, I will not use lace over the seam, as Wendy did, but strips of another T-shirt, maybe done in the AC "random ruffle" design.

I am also experimenting in different color combinations. Dresses of the Belle Epoque period used colors we wouldn't think would go well together, but somehow work. There is a particular one that I love, in colors of acid purple, soft teal, with gold and black trim and beading. Kinda gives you an idea of how bold they were back then. So, here are the recycled T-shirts and man's shirt, laid out so you can see how it will work. All the banding will be out of the purple T-shirt. I will even put banding on the bottom of the cotton shirt, as I am going to cut the front to get the tapered look in the vintage dress, and I want the weight of the beaded banding to help keep the shirt hanging nicely. 

The top T-shirt is a dark blueish gray. The banding T-shirt is a dark rich purple, and the cotton shirt is striped in narrow bands of blueish gray, but seem to have a purple cast to them when the shirt is seen as a whole. I tried putting various colors of T-shirts in the middle to see what would work, and this purple seemed the best.

I bought this shirt because I loved the detail on the front.

The lines of grey are stitched to make the ripple pattern, which I thought would lend itself very nicely to some kind of beading. This photo shows the front pattern, compared to the strait lines of the rest of the shirt. Also, I will either take a piece of the front—if I have enough after I cut the taper—or take one of the shirt sleeves, and make an applique to sew on the gray bodice, which will help tie everything together.

As with all these AC projects, it will be totally hand sewn. Now I just need to find the right color of embroidery floss and beads. 

This is going to be a total experiment, which might end up a big flop, but one I thought would be fun to try.  As with everything...time will tell.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Persian Riding Coat Finished.....Maybe.

Okay, here are photos of the construction and end results of the Persian riding coat. It ended up looking pretty nice (I got many compliments), and was super comfortable to ride in, which was a real plus, as the temperatures at the SCA equestrian event I wore it to were close to 90 degrees all weekend. The fact that it was made of cotton, and had a loose fit, helped keep me cool...er, but it was still bloody hot, and both me and my horse sweated up a storm over the two days.

Here is the old viking coat muslin laid down over the new pattern sheeting. I used my tape measure, pinned in place, like a compass so that I could add the wider skirt width needed for the new coat.

Here is one side of the coat body cut out. There are no shoulder seams with this pattern. There is just a right and left side. I ended up trimming about two inches off the shoulder width where the sleeve attaches, as the original Viking coat was made for a guy, with broader shoulders than mine.

Here is the muslin mock up, minus one sleeve. I had to use two different pieces if yardage to get this, which is why one side is a slightly heavier weight of fabric than the other.  The hardest part of this fairly simple garment was figuring out the underarm gussets. I futzed and futzed with those, but finally got them to work correctly.

One half of the coat body cut out of the cotton twill fabric, and with the first of the decorative bands sewn on. The fabric I cut the bands from was a synthetic, but the design was just so perfect for the coat, I used it anyway. The real downside to it was the fact that it unraveled like crazy. I was constantly cutting away stray threads, and had to handle the stuff vary carefully.

A close up of the banding material. It was one of many pieces of yardage a friend sent me, and I still have quite a bit left over, both in strips I didn't use, and in a wider piece still intact.

The finished coat...maybe. I say maybe, because there is a part of me that wants to bead the trim bands —which would be totally crazy, but would look awesome. The pattern of the design just screams out for beads, but I'm not sure how practical they would be on something I will wear to ride my horse in. Also, I really want to add some narrow black trim to highlight the antique gold of the bands. My saddle is black, my boots are black, and the breast collar with tassel I made as part of this whole costume, is black. The original plan was to have black trim, but I just ran out of time to get that on before the event.

 The back. And I must add, apologies for the wrinkled condition of the coat. I pulled the coat from the back of the car (I still haven't unloaded everything from the weekend) and took these this morning, since I had no full length photos of the coat before the event. It kinda looks like it had a rough weekend, but you get the idea. Also, I had taken Inara out on the deck so the lighting would be better, and of course, it started to sprinkle, so I had to rush to get these. Then the batteries in my camera went dead. Grrr....

This photo shows the curve of the sleeve ends.

And this is how I wore it, with a beautiful sequined sash.

And this is how Delight and I looked, with me in my new Persian coat, riding in the Pageantry musical freestyle part of the event. My music was Marco Polo by Loreena McKennitt. In this photo I am signaling her to slow down (hence the tight rein) to prepare for our next move. She has a power walk, so needed reminding once and a while that this was not a race.

So, that's it. One Persian coat, and one happy rider. I liked it so much, I may make another one, in a lighter fabric (I had originally intended this to be made of linen, but the color I wanted was all gone, and what was left wouldn't have been right). In any case, I call this coat a success.