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In Progress Pics

For the curious, some in progress pictures!
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Coming down the home stretch...maybe?

I haven't done much with my corset all week, which is bad.  I couldn't help it - I still needed to get in my grommets, which were only ordered & paid for Monday (thank you thank you Priority Mail Flat-rate boxes!).  Also, for some strange reason I have been overwhelmed with exhaustion every evening this week - to the point of falling asleep on the couch shortly after the kids went to bed.  I can usually manage 2 hours of quiet a night after bedtime, but not this week.  Very odd.  I'm nursing a sinus infection but it doesn't seem to be major - could it really be sapping all of my energy?

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Dulling the blades & seam algebra

So after a lot of input from various places, I've settled on the final fit and cut of my corset (squeeee!). There was much trimming of bold curves and raising and dropping of hemlines, courtesy of previous pattern pieces and painter's tape.

Next came the Washing and Pressing of fabric, which is never fun but unfortunately necessary. My husband in particular hates this part, because inevitably it means I take up the kitchen for several days. However, I did get the opportunity to get to know my lovely silk, which I think is kind of important. This is one of those deals where only people who sew (or are some kind of creative in general) can understand. I know I cannot be the only person who spends some time with my materials, whether it fabric, or yarn, or heck, even ingredients for a special meal, and contemplates the possibilities.  Who knows, maybe I am?  I know I enjoyed a good long while the other night, smoothing out the silk, staring at it this way and that, trying to get a feel for how it wants to become what I need it to become.  Where do I start cutting, and should I run the grain vertically or horizontally?  I couldn't decide until I got to know the fabric.

Vertical it was.

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What to wear to the (Monster) Ball...?

To celebrate the most recent incarnation of my 29th year of life this summer, I am going to see Lady GaGa's Monster Ball concert. YAY!  I can hardly wait for the end of July!  I am probably an atypical GaGa fan, I am not a big "pop" fan to begin with and the dance/club/techno scene passed me by over a decade ago.  What can I say, when you grow up in NYC you peak early.  Anyway, as a result of being so out of touch, I have naught to wear to the Ball.  What's a girl to do?
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Faire Finery Finished!

Sunday was the great garb unveiling at Scarborough Faire.  I think everyone looked great, although Beth & Ray get the prize for best-looking couple in my opinion.  I can't believe I forgot my camera!  Luckily they brought theirs, but the battery died halfway through the day so my picture choices were limited.

Wench Garb

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And now for something completely different

I went to the ophthalmologist at the beginning of the week to get my yearly eye exam.  I've worn glasses from the age of 6, and contact lenses from the age of 12.  I am severely myopic - in the medical sense, not mentality.  About 10 years ago another doctor warned my that my near-constant use of contacts was affecting the shape of my eye - causing it to pull into a sort of bullet shape and forming slight astigmatism.  When he said that eventually I may not be able to wear contacts I decided to take him seriously, and started wearing my glasses more often.

As I've gotten older and busier I relied on contacts less and less, until I was at the point where I didn't even have contacts available to wear.  My first foray back into contacts a few years ago was really disappointing.  They itched, made my eyes red, and I couldn't wear them for more than a few hours.  The doctor tried a few different kinds, all to pretty much the same result.

I used up what I had for special occasions and let it go, resigned to glasses for all eternity.

This past week I decided to try again.  The doctor talked up this new silicone lens that should alleviate a lot of my problems with the itchiness & dry eyes, yada yada.  I was really psyched about getting back into contacts.

Of course I was excited for nothing.  My eyes still itch, and it feels like something is under the left lens.  My tear ducts itch.  When I take out the contacts my eyes still bug me.

Bleh.  Getting older sucks.


Notes to myself

I'm winding down work on the bodices and I can feel project fatigue setting in heavily.  Since this is (hopefully) not the last time I'll be doing garb, or sewing in general, I need to set down some thoughts where I can easily reference them for next time.  Everything is a learning process.

- Sewing on bias tape sucks.  I DO.NOT.LIKE.  Granted, I have gotten much better, faster, and consistent at it over the last few days, but the suckage hasn't dropped much.  THEREFORE - the next time I do anything boned or done in multiple pieces, I need to leave a generous seam allowance, so I can do a proper seam and use those seams as boning channels.

-Don't buy "heavy" thread unless I will be sewing thick denim or leather.  Buy an extra spool for the bobbins, and then wind up the entire spool.  Nothing more annoying than having to stop because the bobbin ran out.

-Overcast edges, or otherwise neaten them up before assembling the garment. 

-Buy lots of extra needles so I don't have to keep re-using the same crappy ones.

-tie up the start & ending threads as I go, so I don't get stuck doing 800 bazillion of them once the sewing is over.

-Estimate how long the project will take.  Double it.  Do the same with the budget.

-Thread wax makes hand sewing almost delightful, unless bias tape is involved.  Nothing can surmount that level of suckitude.

-Buy lots of muslin.  It may take some extra time but I'll feel less shitty about a crappy toile or muslin than I will about a crappy piece of garb.

-Buy pins.  Lots of pins.  Nice sharp, smooth ones so I can do actual alterations.

-Train Beth to help fit clothing, so she can help fit me.
-Buy or use the right foot on the machine, it makes life easier and it only takes a couple of seconds to change it out.

-Bone the toile using painters tape as temporary "boning channels" to get the right placement.

That's all I have for now.  I'm sure more will come to me.


Hand sewing tedium

I don't know why I was so worried about the boning channels, in retrospect, especailly considering they won't be visible on the surface/fashion fabric.  For the most part, assembling the bodices was very easy, although time consuming.  The channels sewed up easily enough (once I took the zigzag foot off), all the boning fit right, and I even managed a few hemp-boned tabs.  After that, it was just a matter of careful sewing to attach the fronts/backs to the boned lining. 

NOW, it gets tedious, and I am running out of time.  I have scads of double fold bias tape to edge the bodices, but most of it will need to be hand-sewn.  UGH!  I was interrupted a lot, but it still took me 2 hours to get half of the back piece done.  That just isn't going to work if I'm to have to full bodices done by Sunday, as well as another set of braces, a long vest, two sets of leg covers, and a kiddie shirt or two. 

Damn, that's a long list when it's typed out like that. 

Boning Channels

I've gotten to the point in my big Renaissance Garb project that I've been dreading for a month - it's time to bone the bodices.  Ugh.  This entire project has been full of "new" things - I've never made any kind of garb before, nor have I ever sewed up an outfit for anyone outside my immediate family.  Yet, for most of it I've just jumped in feet-first, no hesitation or doubts.  I've made a pile of shirts from measurements, yards of gathered skirts, I've hand-sewed leather bracers.  Still, the bodices freak me out.  They're going to be the most visible parts of our garb, and are crucial to the whole "period" look of our outfits.  And boning channels scare the heck out of me.
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In retrospect I wish I'd used coutil for the lining/boning layers.  These are not corsets, and certainly not going to be subjected to tight-lacing or waist-reduction.  They're being boned to offer some bust support and to help create a silhouette, so the standard corset rules don't necessarily need to be followed.  However, the twill I chose for the lining layer has a terrible tendency to shred at the cut edges, and I am very afraid the boning will tear out along the seams.  I guess I just need to reinforce the edges a little more. 

Tonight, I sew up the marked channels.  I think I need to crack open the wine.