Sunday, March 31, 2013

Easter on the Range

Happy Easter, dearest reader, and hopefully you are able to enjoy the company of beloved family and friends.

This morning, my husband treated us to some lovely time at the range. A few months ago, he gifted me with my first single action pistol: an 1858 Remington New Model Army. I have been checking out SASS for a little while now. Honestly, my interest in SASS started due to two things: My desire for some late Victorian (specifically bustle/grand bustle period) clothes and the lack of places to wear them. It's not that I don't enjoy shooting, because I actually do. But my obsession love of historical fashions has me lusting after hoping to round out my historical closet with something from this awesomely sexy femininely flattering time period.

I got to fire my revolver for the first time today, and I must say it was quite fun. My favorite target was a steel plate bunny. (It didn't hit me that this was sort of humorous in a mildly dark kind of way...)  I made him spin once or twice and rocked him back and forth a number of times. Overall, a successful day on the range. (Of course, the rest of the day we spent time with both of our families for two wonderfully filling and delicious suppers!) Here are a couple of pictures of our morning:

Firing my new revolver. It's a bit mushy out with the thaw
happening, so I wore my new rainboots, too! I like to think
that between my boots and my vest I was not only
putting fashion first, but SAFETY!

The hubby firing his new brown bess. She's pretty =)

Friday, March 29, 2013

Dress Form (1812 Style)- Part 3: The End... sort of

A little while ago I started the process to create my very own custom made plaster cast dress form.... in my 1812 undergarments.

Let me say... it has been a journey!
Left: sealed mold on old dress form. Right: form upside
down, supported by paint cans and ready to fill.

Last week, I prepped my mold by coating it in Johnson's Paste Wax and a mold release agent. I was using an old display mannequin to mount my new form on on, so I put my plaster mold onto the old form and sealed the sides with plaster strips. I also sealed the neck..

After 30-45 minutes, I tipped everything upside down (supported it by three paint cans) and got ready to pour. 

Whoops! I ran out of foam!
Lo and behold... I got to the end of my foam before I got the bottom of my form. Uhg!  I would have to order more foam. It was a Friday night, of course, so I wouldn't be able to get the foam asap, but I hopped online to the Brick in the Yard store to order some more--in bulk this time. (It got here Wednesday, BTW.) While I was there I picked up some more plaster bandages for my next venture. I was worried that this might make it more difficult to get my form out of the mold later, but c'est la vie!

The shoulder where I started
pulling off plaster bits until
my fingers were sore! 
I got to work last night to finish up. It actually wasn't as bad as I thought... The only really bad part was I think I overdid the plaster bandages on the sides of the cast, because WOW! I could not get those suckers to peel off as nicely as they should have. No worries, though. I just chipped off pieces of the cast as I could. It wasn't stuck to the mold, but that plaster sure was strong!

Foam form- post plaster
 Once all of the plaster came off (and I had a mess of plaster pieces on my floor) I was left with the semi-finished form. I would need to shave off a little bit of the foam to be able to put my undergarments on underneath gowns I am draping (since I was wearing the undergarments for shape when I cast the mold.) I just needed to figure out how much.

I grabbed my regency corset and a knife and went to work slicing away unnecessary bits of foam. At about midnight, I was sore, tired, and beginning to loose hope that I would be able to make this work. Boobs were still too stiff (even with the soft foam) and I couldn't get the gap in the back down to the 2 inches or so I have when I lace...

Please tell me this was not for nothing!!!

At this point, I decided what I needed was some rest and recuperation. I went to bed. I awoke this morning still fretting over what to do with Maybelle (it's official...she has been named...).

I tossed and turned, trying to sleep some more but also thinking about the fate of this form. I finally decided to just get up, go downstairs, and attack her with new vigor.

I came downstairs; I hacked at her rib cage a bit more (the one place that she still was not quite the right size) and fretted over the shape of her bubbies (which still wasn't quite the right shape). Then, I vaguely recalled reading a post about using some sort of bean and pantyhose to make a fake breast for your dress form. Save me bean boobies!!

My lentil filled knee high. AKA Maybelle's new boobies!

I found the original post by American Duchess and off to the grocery store I went. I returned with a ten pack of knee highs, four  bags of lentils, deodorant, extra sharp cheddar cheese, and milk. Don't judge.

When I got home, I put the cheese and milk in the fridge and put some lentils in my knee highs. ( I left the deodorant in the bag, in case you are wondering... I'm going to use that later...)

I hacked off Maybelle's foam assests and gave her new (and natural) replacements! And voila... It worked!

Left: Maybelle   Right: Me.
These bean boobs are pretty cool. You can mush them around in the cup to pad it out like your own do. I did have to play around with how much to fill the knee high but with minimal fuss Maybelle had pretty close replicas of my own endowments.

Left: Maybelle   Right: Me
 This also helped to fix my problem with the back gap not closing enough.

Right now, Maybelle is not very pretty. She has at least two different colors of foam and no cover. I do plan on shaving her down a bit more so that I can apply some batting and a classy cover. I think I am going to leave her beanie boobies free floating rather than integrating them into the form, though - less work that way.

However, while she may not be her prettiest at the moment, she is certainly pretty close to functional. Which means once I check her measurements to mine one last time I can finally start that Regency wardrobe I need so badly for June! Eek!

Cheater Stays- Progress!

My tools laid out and ready to rumble!
Well, while I was working on Maybelle Thursday night, I had some down time while I was waiting for the foam to cure. So, what better to do than work on my 18th century (cheater) stays! My oak splint arrived awhile ago, and it's just been sitting there in the box patiently waiting its turn. I finished hand sewing my stay panels together Wednesday night and was feeling up to the challenge of tackling the oak splint.

I got my bucket of hot water to soak the oak (about 10 minutes according to the directions) and then gathered everything else I might need. Then I turned on my DVR and got to work.

Scraping the oak wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. My hubby sharpened my knives for me so that they had a good edge which made the work a lot easier. I did a few test strips and kind of got the hang of it.
Cutting the damp oak to width.

I even attempted a few shaped channels where I cut the oak to fit a point and curve so that it filled the channel entirely. It was actually sort of relaxing in a strange way. Of course, at this point I was in the middle of the Maybelle fiasco, so maybe that's why it seemed so methodically calming!

So far so good. Once I finish inserting the oak I can bind the stays and attempt a 1760's dress form... yay...

Monday, March 25, 2013

Historical Sew Fortnightly- Challenge #6: Stripes (or an 18th century striped petticoat)

Not the best photo of me, but you can see my
striped petticoat peeking out from (you guessed
it!) my semi-sheer striped cotton apron.

Well, this was my first challenge that I've done from the Historical Sew Fortnightly hosted by the Dreamstress on her blog. I was a little nervous (as I'm terrible with deadlines not associated with work!) but I thought I would pick a few challenges to try to keep me on track while working on my historical wardrobe this year. To the detriment of my non-stripe-loving-husband, I knew that this challenge was for me! 
This was my first all hand sewn (not just hand finished) petticoat. I am pleased with the results, and will only get better with time!

So, here she is... my sturdy, but lovely, new striped petticoat. All by hand-I'm slowly replacing everything I have made over the years with hand sewn period methods. 

 The Challenge: Stripes (read the original challenge here!)
Fabric: 2.5 yds lavender/white striped linen (maybe linen/cotton blend- I can't rightly remember, but certainly one of the two.)
Pattern: no pattern, per say. Made the way I make all of my 18th c. petticoats: Sew the panels together, cut pocket slits, hem, and then pleat to tape/waistband. Tadaa!
Year: 1768(ish) but can be worn for most of the 18th c.
Notions: 3yds or so of tape for waistband.
How historically accurate is it? As accurate as I know how to make it... It's entirely hand sewn, with a small hem and pleated to waist tapes. My pleats ended up a little smaller than I had planned, but it was so much easier to pleat using the stripes I couldn't help myself.
Top Left: Right side view of the hem. Top Left: underside of the hem.
Bottom: petticoat pleated to waistband tapes. 
Hours to complete: Hmmm.... 4 or so? I kind of spaced it out here or there. (I take a project bag with me everywhere so when I have down time I stitch a bit. But that sounds about right.
First worn: Timeline Trading Day at Midway Village in January (not all the way completed! eek!) First worn finished at Military History Fest in February. (It was my first challenge and I wanted to make sure I would be able to get it done in time!! March is the end of the quarter at the high school where I teach, so I wanted to be extra safe on the deadline. lol)
Total cost: Around $30. (I made one the first time out of only two yards and it ended up being too short after washing... so I gave it to my BFF. I got some more of the fabric for a second, longer version at $12 or thereabouts.)

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Something finished, something new (to do)...

....Or projects that will shortly be completed so that I can start even more projects in the future!

Shot of some of us at Kalamazoo. Thanks to Spring Valley
for the photo! 
My "compromise" stays are almost to the point where I can shave my oak splint down to size and fill the channels. (This will lead to another plaster casting of myself in my 18th c. stays...)

My 1812 dress form is in the final stages of prep work before I can pour foam and finish up. (I just finished smoothing out the inside layer of plaster and can apply paste wax soon!)

Meanwhile, at Kalamazoo I picked up some lovely fabrics from Regency Revisited for some more 1812 gowns. We also stopped in at Field's Fabrics and found some more lovely finds for the regency fabric stash! This makes it even more important for me to finish my dress form so that I can start draping shapes for a regency wardrobe. My fabric stash is ever growing, so now I need to start turning fabric into garments!

Besides, June is coming quickly and I've got to have something appropriate to wear at our first Napoleonic event!