Sunday, October 16, 2016

A New Venture (again!)

I'm good at new ventures lately, apparently.  And good at not following through with the last one I posted... ahem.

At any rate, check this out.  :D  Melody and I are starting a vlog series, for a very interesting reason.  You'll have to watch the video to find out just what, though. ;) And yes, the video below is me, and my face, and my voice, so HI.  Also my hair being very Frizz, as it was a somewhat damp day.  And also I apparently do not know how to look into the actual camera, so hopefully the stare-off-at-the-corner-of-the-screen trick isn't too jarring to your eye.

Did you watch it? Didja? Didja?  Now are you gonna click on the link to see the actual YouTube channel, and subscribe, and like the video? Are ya? Are ya?  (And Melody's video is here, just so ya know.)

...That's getting annoying, isn't it.

At any rate, here's the adorable photo Melody made that I didn't get to include in the video because my video editor is being shnibly unto me. Hopefully it'll work next time.

...and next time isn't too far away.


P.S. Check out more on the AGM here, if you're interested.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Victorian Silverado Corset, Part I

Otherwise entitled, In Which I Post Pictures of Underwear on a Public Blog, Thereby Scandalizing the Good Ladies of Cranford and Corrupting the Eyes of All Children Present.

So, backstory. (Yes. I do backstory.) I have an event coming up this fall that requires at least one new dress, if not two, in a Regency style.  So what do I do? I decide that I would also like to have new underpinnings and a new dress for Civil War reenacting.

Because I am, clearly, out of my mind.

Cue the Laughing Moon Silverado corset.  (I tried the Simplicity corset pattern a couple of years ago.  UGH.  Do not recommend.) I did my research, read the reviews, sifted through sewing blogs that talked about Victorian undergarments. The clock started ticking, and I started sewing.

First came the busk.  You can't pick up a busk in a fabric or craft store.  I went to for this one.  Here it is, sewn into the mockup pieces, draped artfully across the ironing board.

You absolutely have to make a mockup for a corset.  I am generally lazy and do not wish to do the mockup step with a new pattern.  For a corset, though, it's essential.  As seen below.

Yeahhhhh, Laughing Moon patterns run large, turns out.  So I went down a size and actually followed the directions for 5/8ths-inch seam allowance instead of my usual skinflint 1/4-inch.  Much better.

Here it is pinned onto my trusty Mademoiselle.  Note the pins because Mademoiselle isn't quite humanly shaped and doesn't have the same... give and take that the actual Me is in possession of.  So the pins kept the mockup on Mam'selle for the picture.  (Yes, it actually fit me quite well.  No, I am not posting a picture of it on me because, c'mon, it's still underwear.)

The pattern book (yes, it's actually a book, not just a sheet of instructions- VERY thorough) suggested flatlining fashion fabric to a sturdier background for a little more support, so I took that advice and sewed a lightweight striped cotton to a patterned cream quilting calico.  I didn't have anything heavy like twill on hand and wanted to make this on a budget, so it was a good solution.

Close-up of the backing fabric. This got sandwiched between the outer fabric and the lining in the completed version, so that was my last glimpse of it.  Farewell, white flowers on a cream background.   You were cute, but not long for this world.  Hope you enjoy the rest of your life being purely functional with no decorative capacity. 

Once a few of the regular pieces were together, it was time to put in the bust gussets.  These are sewn normally with right sides together and then topstitched for additional reinforcement.  Yes, this was the fourth attempt.  It finally turned out all right. :P (Plain white fabric in the photo above is the lining.  I didn't bother taking photos of both the lining and outer layer, as the construction is exactly the same.) 

A longer shot of the middle busk piece as well as the side gussets.  This was the part that involved a lot of Fitting and Fussing and Fidgeting.  Eventually I just took a deep breath, made a wish, counted to three, and left it as it was, because it looked like it fit but I knew I was never going to be quite sure until the boning was in and the whole thing was laced up.  (And THAT, children, is called FORESHADOWING. Duhn duhn duhn.)

And speaking of lacing, it was time to make EYELETS.  The pattern suggest expensive metal grommets that you punch through the fabric with an expensive grommet awl thingy.  Why do that when you can have hand-sewn eyelets (period correct, to boot!) for a teensy fraction of the price?  The only cost? YOUR SANITY.  And fingertips repeatedly stabbed by the back end of a heavy duty needle.  (Not delightful.)  And several episodes of Call the Midwife, except that part was most definitely not a bad thing.

Close-up of the eyelets.  Difficult and painstaking (and pain-inflicting) as they may be, they do look pretty doggone good, and produce a feeling of accomplishment.  I MADE DAT.  

Tune in somewhat shortly for Part Deux, in which we put the corset on a chemise on a plastic dress form, and see how it looks.  (And then under a dress. Hopefully.) 

What are you sewing these days?  (If you sew, that is.  If not, tell me a good joke so as to have something to say in the comments.)

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Voyage Into Sewing Blogging

"Charles, I SAID tell me when you are READY to take the picture, and not ONE SECOND BEFO--"

I don't blog very much about sewing here anymore, but I am planning to change that.

Actually, I don't blog very much here anymore, period, but I am planning to change that.

Some of you who know me "in real life" may already know this, but I am mildly involved in Civil War reenacting, with a keen interest in being involved on a deeper level. Time constraints, financial constraints and the fact that I don't live in the middle of a national park slash historic battlefield all contribute to limit my participation in every living history/battle reenactment that comes down the turnpike.  However, I'm in possession of a job, a car and a chaste selection of unoccupied weekends.  I could go to more events.  My biggest problem?

My wardrobe right now doesn't cut it.

See, I started going to Civil War events "in costume" (you're supposed to say garb, not costume, in the Circles Who Know What They're Talking About) in the early summer of 2013, at which time I sewed an 1860's-ish (pay attention to that suffix ISH) day dress out of quilting cotton.  I vaguely followed the Simplicity 2887 pattern and the finished product was... well, it wasn't great, but for a first Victorian-esque dress it wasn't horrendous.  However, it is not period correct for a multitude of reasons.  That dress is now a "ball gown" (again, pay attention to the quotation marks) and you can read more about how it got that way by clicking the link above.  Still... not half as period correct as it could be.  Although the lace is fun.

Later on I made myself a somewhat Little-Women-inspired ensemble that consisted of a skirt and matching zouave jacket, but since I knew very little about appropriate fabric use and since my inspiration mainly came from book covers that I had liked when I was younger, the dress was made out of a solid red broadcloth and trimmed with polyester black braid.


Again, it served its purpose for the time and I got a lot of wear out of it and enjoyed the process of making it (AND learned quite a bit about putting together a garment that would actually fit) sO I definitely don't consider that dress a wasted effort.

Still and all, I need some new clothes, and I need some new clothes that look right.  And since half the fun of sewing things is getting to show them off, whether in person or online, I fully intend to document the creating process here at the blog before I wear the finished product to an event.  Plus, writing posts about what I'm sewing is great motivation to, y'know, actually complete whatever it is I started.  My mom could tell many fascinating stories of the half-finished articles of clothing that have been stashed away and never seen the light of day again because I got bored halfway through.  Um, anyways.

So, if you've followed this blog for slightly snarky movie reviews in the past and do not wish to see anything else, well, you may not be stopping by quite so often in the future. (Not that there's been much to read about in the past few months anyway... cough cough cough.)  I'm certainly not intending to make this blog into a strictly needles-and-thread domain, which is why the title is staying the same and nothing is changing as far as the Look and Feel at the moment.  But blogs change as people change, and my interests today are not quite the same as those of the sixteen-year-old girl who first hit publish on her inaugural post at this domain nearly five years ago.  So, expect to see a good deal more about what I've been stitching, and if that's not your thing and you'd prefer not to stick around, I completely understand.  (I may hop back in with a tongue-in-cheek takedown of Julian Fellowes' new monstrosity Doctor Thorne at any moment, though, so consider yourself forewarned if you hit that unfollow button.)

What else, what else... oh! And I made an Instagram for sewing stuff too.  So take a sneak peek if you feel inclined, because there are snippets there from what I'm working on right now.  A real post about THAT project will follow.


Thursday, June 9, 2016

Les Miserables: What They Were Really Thinking

All accurate quotations taken from the Complete Symphonic Recording libretto, aka The Whole Doggone Thing (The Actual Musical, That Is).  All inaccurate mumbo-jumbo is from mine own weird brain. Screencaps are from the movie, because it's just easier to find those.  This juxtaposition may be jarring to purists.  Then again, my whole blog is probably jarring to purists, so if you're a purist you may wish to take your business elsewhere.

Full disclaimer: rampant irreverence shown to a very sad and moving story, all in good fun. Also completely unashamed digs at big-name movie stars' singing.  Sorry not sorry.  And no copyright infringement intended, even though I don't own any of this (obviously.) Yada yada.

Let us proceed.

Convict: When I get free, you won't see me here for dust!
Other convict: What is that even supposed to mean? Personally, when I get free you won't see me here for a MILLION DOLLARS, if I knew what a dollar was, which I don't, living in barely-post-revolutionary-France.

Javert: You robbed a HOUSE!
Valjean: I broke a window-pane!
Javert: That's still robbing a house, man.  The window was IN the house.

Javert: You will starve again unless you learn the meaning of the law.
Valjean: I know the meaning of those 19 years a slave of the law.
Javert: I didn't ask you if you knew the meaning of those 19 years, I asked you if you knew the meaning of THE LAW.  Learn to listen, 246-whatever-your-name-is.

Valjean: I drink from the pool, how clean the taste.
(I have no response for this, just thought all y'all needed to see this picture.)

Valjean: When they chained me and left me for dead, just for stealing a mouthful of bread.
Javert (in the distance): And robbing a house, did you forget the house already?

Javert: What is this fighting all about, will someone tear these two apart! This is a factory, not a circus!
Foreman: I don't know what kind of circuses you've been to, Valjean, but if the main entertainment there is women fighting, I think you are going to some pretty third-rate circuses.

Valjean: Your face is not a face I would forget.
Javert: I feel like the implication of this remark is very hurtful but I am not exactly sure how or why.

Javert: Tell me quickly, what's the story? Who saw what, and why and where? Let him give a full description....
Beggars: Well if you would shut up for ten seconds together, maybe some of us could get a word in edgewise, JAVERT.

[tries to expunge any and all singing from that confession scene between Javert and Valjean in the movie]

Valjean: Hush now, do not be afraid of me, don't hide. Show me where you live.
Cosette: The saddest thing about my neglected childhood is that no one told me not to talk to strangers like you, Creepy Man Who Just Showed Up in the Woods and Asked For All My Personal Information.

Valjean: Thank you both for Cosette. It won't take you too long to forget.

Madame Thenardier: Here [the students] come slumming once again.  Our Eponine would kiss their feet, she never had a scrap of brain.
Eponine: Yeah, but according to two songs ago I'm really good at wearing little blue hats, or did you forget that Mom...

Eponine: I like the way you grow your hair...
Marius: Do you really, Eponine? Do you like how I grow it? Or do you just like the way I cut and style it?  Because the growing is actually done pretty involuntarily and I do not actually have any say in how it's done.  See, this is the kind of thing you would find in a book, if you read books, a sad lack in your education which I am apparently bent on rubbing in your face.

Marius: A ghost you say, a ghost maybe, she was just like a ghost to me.
Enjolras: Just to be clear, you actually like this girl or you're saying she scared you out of your skin?

Enjolras: Is this simply a game for a rich young boy to play?
Grantaire: Obviously not, Enjolras, have you MET most of us?  Marius hasn't eaten in, like, a month.

Enjolras: Marius, you're no longer a child--
Marius: Enjolras you are THREE years older than me, will you please CHILL with the ageism there.  I am VERY mature.

Marius: Cosette, I don't know what to say.
Cosette: Then make no sound.
Marius: I am lost!

Valjean: Must be Javert! He's found my cover at last! I've got to get Cosette away before they return!
Cosette: Are you talking to me or to someone unknown person on the other side of that camera?  Dad?  And who's "they" and who's Javert and WHAT IS GOING ON AND WHAT DO YOU MEAN WE'RE LEAVING, I HAVE A BOYFRIEND NOW.

Barricade Boys: One day to a new beginning, raise the flag of freedom high! Every man will be a king...
Combeferre: You realize that if everyone's a king, then no one's a king, right?  Right?

Eponine: I've got you worried now, I have - that shows you like me quite a lot!
Marius: There is a way that you can help! You are the answer to a prayer!
Eponine: ...When did I say I wanted to help?  I said I wanted you to LIKE ME, Marius, how hard is that to understand- sheesh, you are REALLY lucky you're so cute.

Eponine: The trees are bare and everywhere the streets are full of strangers!
Stranger: Okay, first of all I am the ONE SOLE PERSON on this street right now, kiddo, and also, if the streets WERE full of strangers, you technically wouldn't be on your own. Think about it.

Javert: What's the difference, die a schoolboy, die a policeman, die a spy?
Courfeyrac: If there really genuinely isn't any difference why do we all have to be schoolboys?  I for one would rather be a spy. It sounds cool.

Eponine: Don't you fret, M'sieur Marius, I don't feel any pain. A little fall of rain can hardly hurt me now.
Marius: I'm not concerned about the rain hurting you, Eponine, I'm concerned about the MASSIVE GUNSHOT WOUND IN YOUR RIBCAGE RIGHT NOW.

Enjolras: For your presence of mind, for the deed you have done, I will thank you M'sieur when our battle is won.
Valjean: Give me no thanks m'sieur, there's something you can do--
Enjolras: I literally just told you I wasn't giving you thanks yet so you DON'T NEED TO STOP ME.

Javert: Once a thief, forever a thief! What you want you always steal! You would trade your life for mine?
Valjean: The very definition of a trade is swapping one thing for another, which is the exact opposite of stealing, so your logic is not only mean and rude, it is FLAWED, Javert.  FLAWED.

Marius: Would you weep, Cosette, for me?
Valjean: THAT'S HIM THAT'S THE ONE. Okay be cool. BE COOL.

Valjean: He's like the son I might have known, if God had granted me a son.
Cosette (back at the ranch): I HEARD THAT.
Creepy eye overseeing Valjean in the movie: PLEASE STOP "SINGING."

Thenardier: And only the moon shines down... the harvest moon shines down...
Dead guy in the sewer: Bro, it's JUNE, do you even know what a harvest moon is.

Javert: My heart is stone and still it trembles!
Random bird: Do you really think the two are mutually exclusive? Have you ever heard of an earthquake?
Other random bird: Also please stop "singing."

Valjean: I never told Cosette, she had enough of tears
Marius: Do you think I haven't had enough of tears, dude? In case you haven't noticed, ALL MY FRIENDS ARE DEAD.

Marius: Whatever I tell my beloved Cosette she will never believe.
Valjean: Yeah, good luck with making that marriage work, kid.

Marius: When I look at you, I remember Eponine.
Eponine (from heaven): Gee, thanks, buddy, I was trying to get some distance there.

Marius: Cosette, your father is a saint. When they wounded me he took me from the barricade, carried like a babe...
Cosette: This is not the time or the place, but at some point the two of us need to very carefully review How One Carries a Baby, because "through the sewers slung across your back" is Not It.

All the Dead People: Do you hear the people sing, lost in the valley of the night?
All the Weeping Audience:  That's a depressing way of putting it when you think too hard about it.
Me, Writing This: Okay, I got nothing, that ending just Gets You Right There.  Can't joke, I'm out.


Sunday, February 28, 2016

An Ode to Tea

"No coffee, thank you, for me -- never take coffee.  A little tea, if you please."
-Miss Bates, Emma

Okay, I kind of lied. This post is not going to be an Ode.  In order for an Ode to be happening, there has to be some sort of poetry going on, and poetry and I Do Not Mix.  So this is a Prose to Tea, except that that sounds really weird in a post title, and I like to display some semblance of sanity for the rare occasions when my mother reads my blog.  (Recent quote from her: "You still write a blog?!?!" Okay, so make that "nonexistent occasions.")

But I digress before I even begin.

O Tea, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways, in a rambling and out-of-order form numbered only because I just used the phrase "count the ways" and not because I am actually ranking The Ways in any hierarchy of importance.

1.  Thou art warm and comforting for any foul mood or stormy weather. Or when one is under the weather. That too.

2. Thou art beautiful to behold and come in a great variety of pretty colors, unlike thy ugly brother Coffee, who is one color without cream and one color with, and, by extension, incredibly boring.

3.  Thou hast been proven over centuries to be the fuel of creativity, and thy praises sung by many great people, including Jane Austen, so there.  (Tea is apparently drunk at least 58 times by various characters throughout her novels.)

4. Thou art generally affordable and though some of thy varieties may be in a pricey range, for the most part one can get a good bang for one's buck (i.e. 20 cups of tea can be made from the standard box of teabags, which is generally available for under $5 in the U.S., even if you're buying something of good quality like Twinings, and since that's the average price of a kiddie cup at Starbucks... it's a pretty good deal).

5. Thou canst be served in lovely and delicate teacups, which are pleasing to the sight and beautiful in the eye of the beholder, and also collectible.  (I currently have 17 in my bedroom alone, plus two mugs, one of which is decorative and one of which perpetually sits on my bedside table because I always forget to take it back down to the kitchen when it is empty.)

6.  Thou art naturally free of calories, and that is a beautiful thing.  Doctoring thee up with sugar and cream is the business of those who drink thee, and on their own heads be it if they decide to add to thee-- but on thine own thou art not a Guilty Pleasure and for that we salute thee.

7.  Thou smellest SO GOOD.  (And smellest is... not a word?) And thy fragrances are many and varied, and linger pleasingly in a manner much unlike old coffee, whose aroma becomes unwelcome with great haste after it has been consumed. (No, this post is not solely for the purpose of dissing coffee. :P)

8.  Thou art such a companionable sort of treat to Share with a Friend.

9.  Thou art easy to make-- seriously, all one needs is a stove, a kettle, water, and a teabag.  Thou shalt not be sullied with water that has been microwaved, but everyone knows THAT. ;)

10.  When thou art paired with a good book, truer happiness cannot be found, unless of course there is chocolate too.