Thursday, 31 October 2013

Sober October: Mission Complete + Downton spoilers

So it's the 31st of October and I haven't touched a single beer! I managed well enough to substitute it with non-alcoholic ginger beer, and only indulged a little in sugar and carbs on those goddam-I-need-a-beer-when-I-get-home days. $395 raised for the SPCA! Thanks to everyone who contributed :)

Even though the lack of beer sent my body into shock and I suffered a three-week long sinus infection-resulting cold, I have managed to finish that theatre costume, and am halfway through the wedding dress due in...two weeks and two days!

Here's the costume:

It's for a play called Anne Boleyn, done by amateur theatre company Stagecraft. You can find out more about it here

**SPOILERS** - Don't read more if you don't want to find out spoilers for Downton Abbey S4!

Now, I said in my last post that I was going to have a 'monster of an opinion piece', but I'm not quite ready yet. After that episode aired in the UK and sent shockwaves not only through the fan community but in New Zealand news, as it was the episode that featured Dame Kiri, I was disgusted and swore off my formerly-beloved Downton for good. After I calmed down though, I thought I would at least hear out how the storyline is treated in following episodes, and if there is actually a point to it at all. 

So, if you haven't already heard, Anna Bates is attacked and raped by a visiting valet. From the plot synopses that I've read, she refuses to report the matter to anyone but Mrs Hughes, and certainly doesn't confide in Mr Bates. This of course causes tension in the marriage and Mr Bates is hurt and confused by Anna's sudden change in behaviour. Not to mention the fact that a friend of the Crawleys has a monster as a valet and may visit the estate again... Now, the problem I have first of all, is why this plot has any place in this television series at all. You have to wonder at their motivations for including it. The audience has watched Anna and Bates struggle for three seasons with various troubles, and as soon as they find happiness, it's shattered. Why piss off your fans like that? What's the point? And with something as violent and horrid as THAT? But, as I said, I will wait and find out what they are doing with the storyline before I make a final opinion. If there is a point to it in the end, or a moral to teach or example to set, then I may reconsider. However I don't think an incident like that will at all warrant any moral or example the show could possibly offer in the end. 

I am very disappointed. I watch Downton Abbey for entertainment and aesthetics, and this storyline has neither. Not cool, Julian Fellowes, not cool. 

Sunday, 13 October 2013

Sober October

You may have noticed that there hasn't been many hops on Hops and Frocks lately, and there especially haven't been this month, as I decided to do a Sober October for charity. My charity of choice is the Wellington SPCA, specifically for their Rehome Project. I have been doing some work experience there lately as part of my vet nursing course, and it's evident that those guys need better facilities! It's going well so far, although it's possible that I'm just eating more chocolate instead. (But that's beside the point).

Anyway, just thought I'd drop a line to let you know I hadn't completely disappeared. Here is (one of) my current projects - a stage costume for the Gryphon Theatre here in Wellington. Just look at those delicious beasty sleeves, will you? I felt like Homer Simpson around doughnuts when I first saw the fabric.

My next blog post is going to be a monster of an opinion piece. I just need to gather more information first. Watch this space. 

Saturday, 21 September 2013

Edwardian Mad

I don't mean to cheat on my beloved Downton Abbey, but I've recently discovered Mr Selfridge, which has sent me even more Edwardian-crazy. I'm particularly a fan of Agnes' sailor-collar work dress: 

...And Mrs Selfridge's floaty lace get-ups. 

Not to mention all the gorgeous A-line and bell-shaped skirts. No doubt you'll see my own versions here in the future. In brief other news, I made a party frock to wear to a wedding in November out of the remainder of the fabric from the Edwardian evening dress I made recently. Didn't even need any extra! Think I made the neckline a tad too low but I'm sure my reputation will survive. 

Back to Edwardian-ness - I've been wanting an excuse to incorporate into some ensemble these yummy vintage French made gloves that were given to me by my rad pseudo-mum-in-law.

I was down the Sallies one day and found a huge gorgeous cream brocade curtain. That baby swiftly came home with me and got paired with said gloves, hat, buttons and of course pattern from the late-teens. 

And I've already got this far, because when I get into something I'm like a runaway train...

It just needs back fastenings and possibly some trimming. Notice the darling apron and headpiece with the maid's uniform? Pretty stoked how they turned out. (Ignore the beads, that's just where they live at the moment). Better Half and I joke that I should don the outfit to do our housework. 

The hat in the picture above was also a Sallies score, but it's a little too small. But as I never concede defeat with such things I decided to fix it. Token before photo: 

I picked off the satin ribbon as well as the crown-lining ribbon in hopes to stretch it out, as the weave of the hat is on the bias. So I stretched it over this bowl and gave it a good seeing-to with steam from my iron. 

This should give it more of a cloche shape. I'll see in the morning how well it holds it's bowl-shape, and maybe give it a go over with hairspray or something and see how that helps. Once I'm happy with it I'll return the satin ribbon. And one of these days I should actually take some photos of me IN a dress! 

Thursday, 5 September 2013

I might as well face it, I'm addicted to piping

So in the end, for my maid's uniform, it was between Anna pre-1920...

...And Anna post-1920. 

And I only chose the latter because I didn't have appropriate white lace in my stash for the collar of the former, and, well, I wanted to do more piping. 

It's a very simple process - just cut diagonal strips of chosen fabric and sew them together to make one long strip. (Don't ask me why I sewed black thread onto white, I'm just lazy). 

Iron it in half lengthwise...

And, using a zipper foot, sew some string into the fold in one continuous length. 

I'm terrible at taking progress-photos, so here is a picture of the dress almost-finished. I just have to do the buttonholes really. 

The collar isn't quite the right shape, and I did have to add an extra little dart into it to to make it sit properly on the shoulders, so hopefully that won't be noticeable. Haven't decided if I'll actually bother to make the apron or not...knowing me I'll just get distracted by something else. Probably something else with piping. 

Friday, 23 August 2013

1860s day dress

Somehow I managed, between assignments, to make a whole Victorian-style dress in the past couple of weeks, complete with techniques I haven't tried before. (Ignore the lack of buttons though - I'm still awaiting them in the post). I used Laughing Moon's Ladies' Early 1860's Day Dress for the main part of the dress, but as I wasn't convinced about the sleeves, I used the sleeves from Butterick's Making History #5831.

The back featured some weird fake-seams which I managed to pull off pretty well:

And I did a whole 'lotta do-it-yourself piping, which I've also never done before. I thought it would be real fiddly and difficult, but it was real easy! I made metres of the stuff! Unforch didn't get any photos of it before I used it, so will endeavour to get some in the future. But here are some of it on the dress itself:

My next project will be a similar-ish style inspired by the maid's outfits from Downton Abbey. Despite them not being fancy or sparkly like the upstairs costumes, there's something about them I'm really drawn to. I like their simplicity and functionality, and above anything else perhaps I just relate more to the working class than the upper class. Anyway, here are some examples:

And here are a couple of other examples I found while Google-snooping.

I think I'll do a black one first and then hopefully source enough patterned green or something similar for another one. Now those wretched buttons better show up soon, I hate having UFOs lying around.

Sunday, 28 July 2013

Finished patchwork apron

So I finished the patchwork apron a little while ago and gave it to Better Half for his birthday. I think he'd forgotten about it by then so it still ended up being a surprise! Here is the handsome fellow modelling it:

He's going to put it to good use this evening to cook us a beer-can roast chicken! And while obtaining said beer-can this afternoon I spotted this ginger beer that I thought I'd try.

Don't like it. Far too bitter. It's hard to find a good alcoholic ginger beer, and I've only managed to come across two so far that I actually like - the one by The Sprig and Fern Brewery and a new beer called Ranga, the name of which some people got their knickers all in a twist about. Maybe I should just stick to what I know.

In other news fabric has been obtained for my next wedding dress project - don't actually know if it's supposed to be a secret or not, so I should probably ask my bride - but actual construction probably won't start on that until September. In the meantime though, I've started a party dress from the remaining maroon fabric from the Edwardian dress to wear to said wedding. 

Thursday, 25 July 2013

More costumes for sale!

I've dug out two more costumes I'm not particularly attached to, so here's your chance of owning one! Pics of the finished Edwardian dress will come as soon as possible, I promise.


Friday, 5 July 2013

Evening Edwardian progress

I'm really enjoying making this dress, and am already pretty much on to the finishing touches. Here is a photo taken the other day of how the bodice was coming along:

I was going to take some more photos after some delicate hand-stitching:

But then the cat decided that she thought the dress looked rather comfortable.

So that's that for the time being.

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Brooch dress finished ft. I would really like a new bloody camera

I am yet to try it on, but I've finished the 1913 brown velvet day dress designed around the Belgian brooch! Here we are:

Rubbish photo of my brown velvet day dress from 1913

Next on the agenda is a 1909-1913 evening dress from the Laughing Moon Mercantile pattern I recently bought:

Laughing Moon Mercantile pattern #104

I'm going to use some of the fabric I bought in Samoa, and it's going to look vaguely something like this:

Rubbish photo of my plans for an Edwardian evening dress

If I don't have enough left over I may have to try and source some I have another plan for this fabric, and I'm torn between the two. I'll make this first, and see how much I have left :)

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Costumes for sale!

I've been through my back-catalogue, and have so far only managed to part with two old costumes in order to make room for others. If you're interested please see my TradeMe listings:


Tuesday, 25 June 2013

The Brooch Dress Begins

I made one more simple dress, a pattern from 1931, before I started on something more meaty.

If you'll remember from a few posts ago I was trying to decide which bigger project to start with, and I've decided to start with a teens gown, for the gorgeous 100-year-old brooch from Bulgaria to go with.

It's going to be reminiscent of this gown of Cora's from Downton Abbey:

Here are the beginnings of it.

The guimpe (neckline insert) is made from some offcuts of lace from a wedding dress I made a couple of years ago (I throw NOTHING away), and the body of the dress is a deep chocolate brown stretch velvet. I am as yet unsure how I will embellish it, I just want to get the shape right first. Then, I'm sure there will be plenty of others following in its wake!

Also, as a final treat before I become a poor student, I bought myself a few more patterns. You can tell I'm Edwardian-mad at the moment, can't you?

Monday, 17 June 2013

Lady of Leisure

Sorry for the huge absence, folks! But I've now quit my job and have a few weeks off before my vet nursing course starts and I plan to make the most of it! To get back into the swing of things as I'm sure I've gotten a little rusty, I've started small...

...With this dress from 1958.

...This blouse a la Isobel Crawley from Downton Abbey.

...This dress from the late 40's.

...And this dress from 1922.

Apologies for the quality of the photos, my camera's a piece of shit!

I actually spent my first week off in Samoa, where cheap fabric is plentiful. I bought some beautiful maroon lace and embroidered satin intended for a yummy Edwardian gown at some stage, and a bunch of Pacifica-inspired prints (most are made in Thailand, but that's not the point). Also featuring in the photo below is Samoa's own beer Vailima, and it's bloody nice actually. The Export Lager was my favourite, and at 6.7% it's got quite a kick!

I may do one more little project before I start on something more epic, but I haven't yet decided what that will be. I keep changing my mind!