Thursday, December 10, 2015

Corset Re-Making

You know that weight I lost? Yeah, my foundation garments don't work so well anymore. Its a bit daunting when you realise that all your corsets don't fit anymore as they are a bit of an investment to then have to replace, but that's where I am. Tbh, I wouldn't swap my current difficulties to go back to my prior weight anyway, so I guess it all works out.

But it does mean that I've had to do something I haven't done in years- make a new corset. I wanted an under bust, which I not only don't have, but have no pattern for either. So it was back to the drafting.

I used the instructions here, swapping in my own measurements. And you know what? Unlike certain catsuits, these were pretty much perfect.

I made the first corset out of old coutil scavenged from the carcass of one of my old corsets and just some simple lining material I had lying around. It was very strange seeing how much I could salvage and still have to cut out.

I've since remade this and put it into "proper" fabric and I think I'm in love with it mostly because I was sick of dealing with what happens when you don't use proper materials-

Unpleasant, let me tell you. After standing all day with a bone poking me and finding that it had rubbed exactly where my bra line hit so that it was still sore even once I was out of the corset, I decided I just had to finally re-make this.

The pattern was still perfect, and I have to say I love the fabrics. My new one has coutil on the inside and a matte satin on top which just feels beautiful to the touch. It is sooooooo much more comfortable to wear too.

Now I just have to make an overbust corset and my foundations will once again be complete.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Holiday Gift Ideas- Jewelry Bag Tutorial

Normally if I haven't started my holiday crafting by this point in time, I start panicking as everything always seems to take longer to get started finished fit into the schedule around this time of year. That's why I like having a quick'n'easy option up my sleeve. For me, that option has always been jewellery bags.

I got one of these when I was little and loved it. Then I got another, and another. I still use them today. Which of course means that I feel like these bags are super wonderful gifts, because not only are they useful, but they're as pretty as you want them to be.

I will say that I refer to these as jewellery bags, because that's how I was introduced to them. They don't have to be used for that purpose. Simple modification would easily make these handy bags for anything really. I've seen basic versions without the inner pockets used as dice bags and sold for fortunes, which makes me consider (again) whether or not I should bother with Etsy.

The other nice thing about these is that they are great for using up stash pieces.

Things you will need: 

-At least 2 colours of fabric. I use three colours in the example. Size is dependant on how large you wish the bags to be, but 1/4 meter will do. Fat quarters work, however you will need at least two of each colour. This can also be done with 3 or 4 different colours. As I mentioned, this is great for using up stash pieces and off cuts. The tutorial will be written for two colours, but you can adjust to make allowances for multiple colours. I like to use one pretty cotton for the outside, but I prefer using a satin for the inside to give it a more luxurious feel. 
-Cording or ribbon- 1 metre or 1 yard in a complimentary colour. 
-Templates- You can either print out circles, or use plates. I usually use a dinner plate and a side plate as my guides. 
-Marking tool- pencil, chalk- whatever you prefer. Needs to be something that will go away without requiring washing.
-Batting (optional)- 4”x4” is plenty
-Pretty finishing charms (optional) - I use metallic cones, which I like the look of, but you could use anything. You will need 4 (1 per end of the cording). This number could be adjusted to your own specifications and preferences.

Step 1: Prepare your fabric as you prefer (wash, dry, etc) and then iron it.

Step 2: Arrange and trace your large and small plates/templates on each of your fabrics. Add 5/8” around each for seam allowance. Cut them out. If your fabrics are similar in size, this can be done with one on top of the other.

Step 3: Put the right sides of the two large circles together and pin in place. Sew along your seam allowance leaving a 2” gap for turning later.

Step 4: Put notches around the outside, making sure not to go past the seam. Press the seam allowance open. 

Step 5: Pull the circle right side out. Press the seam again, ensuring it does not turn under. 

Step 6: Repeat steps 3, 4, & 5 for the small circles.

Step 7: Hand stitch the opening closed or stitch down the edge of your circles. If you choose to stitch around the edge, you will not need to hand stitch the opening closed. If you wish to pad the bottom of the bag, slip in your padding into the large circle before you close the opening. I find it best to slide it in place and pin it from the outside of the bag so it won't move.

Step 8: Place your large circle outside fabric down. Find the centre of your circles and mark it. Line up the the two centres of your circle, with the smaller circle on top of the lining fabric. 

Step 9: Sew your small circle down with top stitching as detailed in the above diagram. The circle at the centre becomes your base, and each spoke that goes out allows you to have little pockets for items to be stashed in. 

Step 10: Halfway between the edge of your large circle and the inner circle, run a line of stitching. Sew a second line of stitching 1/4" above that. This is the channel for your cording/ribbon. 

Step 11: Carefully cut a small hole between the two channel stitches on the outside of the fabric. Clip only the fabric on the very outside of your project, not the inner lining material. I like to do a little square between the lines of fabric. Clip a second one that is opposite to the first.

Step 12: Cut your cording/ribbon in half so that you have 2 half metre/yard lengths. Thread one cord through one of your openings and out the same opening. Repeat with the second piece of cord, but enter and exit from the opposite hole.

Tie your cords together and voila! You're done. When you pull on both cords, your jewellery bag should close together. 

If you'd like to use charms at the ends of your cord, you can add them, however you can finish your project without them easily. 

I love giving these as they are useful, handy, and (despite all the steps) actually very easy to make. Enjoy!

Thursday, November 19, 2015

69 Stitches... and then some

One of my New Year's Resolutions this year was to finish some of the unfinished projects in my house. I realise it is a little late in the year to be talking about New Year's resolutions, but this one is relevant now because after getting sidetracked by Agent Carter and a good few other costumes, I'm actually back on track.

A few *cough*too*cough* many years ago, I started a cross stitch block. The Sprite Stitch forum does this every year, with members stitching blocks that get incorporated into a quilt that is then auctioned for charity.

I started one of my favourite game growing up, the Secret of Mana. Its a game that I spent hundreds if not thousands of hours playing, both with and without my brother. I loved it, and I’d always kind of had the vague idea that the home screen would look really cool stitched up. So this was my chance. 

I didn’t make the deadline. I hate crafting deadlines as inevitably I miss them, and I did. As usual. So I chucked this aside and left it there for… years. 

This year I was determined to get it off my plate. When I picked it up I was surprised at how little was left to do. 

69 stitches. That’s it. That was all that stood between me and a finished project. But it was 69 autonomous stitches which required thread changes between nearly every single one. 

And on top of that, I realised that I couldn’t find the colour I needed to finish her dress, so I had to unpick what had been done and redo it. And then I realised that either my measurements were off or in the few years since I started this project the requirements had changed and it was short a few stitches all around for the requirements. 

So I added a border. I couldn't face adding more greenery. It was a supreme effort to get this done, but finally it happened after weeks of moaning about how much I really did not want to do this. 

I’m happy to say that I made the deadline this year and it will be part of the Sprite Stitch charity quilt. If you are interested, do let me know and I’ll keep you updated on when and where you can participate in possibly getting your hands on the quilt. 

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Back from Hiatus

It's been a while since I posted anything, too long really. Sadly, it's not even that I haven't had things to write about. Mostly it's been because I was too busy to edit photos to go along with posts.

I'm going to try to catch up in the next few weeks, although since this has been a while and I am legitimately crazy busy, it may not be weekly. I do want to get back to blogging here, though, as I always felt more productive and it helps keep the creative juices flowing. 

Here's hoping something will come together.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Creative Slump

Cross-posted from

I started this post last week, and just couldn't finish it. I got as far as this:

"It isn’t a pretty place to be, but it is certainly where I have found myself lately. What is this place, you say?

Type ‘creative slump’ into Google and the first suggestion you’ll find it “how to get out of a creative slump” which is nice because it does let you know that you’re not alone. Unfortunately, the suggestions are as varied as there are "

That's it. I couldn't get any further. Couldn't even think of an analogy for "many," "lots," etc. I've been in such a creative slump that I've been finding blog posts difficult to compose.

Part of my slump has come from how busy I've been, with travel, planning, and "real life" work. Its been a good month since I was last crafting and I can feel it. I haven't actually picked up even a cross stitch, my go to background project, in several months. I've been tired, and busy, and not even in the country, and it has made it impossible for me to really work. This frustration led to even worse creative slump, eventually effecting even my writing which leads us to this post.

Its hard to get out of a creative slump when you're in it. As my brief attempt at research last week found, there are any number of suggestions available to try to get you out of a slump. I found my solution by accident, and I thought I'd share.

I've always wanted to go to the British Museum. I love museums in general, but the British Museum has been on my wish list for years. There are many museums in the world, but the British has always had a mystique for me.

As I walked through the halls, everywhere I turned I found something amazing. I usually go straight for the textiles, but the British has very few. This wasn't a problem as it turned out.

I went because I wanted to see the museum and everything in it., but what I found was my creative mojo. Peering at the marvels of history, amazed at the craftsmanship of hundreds of years before, I couldn't help but be amazed and inspired. 

When you think about the tools available to sculptors, woodworkers and craftsmen back in the day, the detail work is incredible. What they did, that lasted this long, to be enjoyed by people today... It is staggering to stand in the presence of such work.

So next time you find yourself in a creative slump, I highly recommend surrounding yourself with an overload of beauty and inspiration. It doesn't have to be your own choice of craft, but I do suggest something that you see in person. The power of beauty is always greater when you stand in its presence.

Its a fix that I didn't find when looking online, but it worked for me. I can't wait to get home and get back to work on the various WIPs lying around my house. And if you, too, have been finding your creative juices on a low ebb, I hope you find a solution that works for you.

~ eliste

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Agent Peggy Carter Part 3: The Shirt

This has been… an adventure. I apologise for the lack of photos, but every time I was working on this it was a last minute thing, so I kept forgetting.

It started well. The Simplicity 3688 pattern that I used for the suit included a 1940’s style shirt, so I looked at that and the reference shots and at least figured that I could use the sleeves if nothing else. The rest, I had to freehand. 

The back was a lot easier to deal with than the front so I started there. I took a body block pattern that I had drafted for myself some time ago and used it to figure out the yoke for the back. Then, I cut a piece wider than necessary so that I could add in the folds that Peggy has in her shirt. 

The front was a challenge. I wanted the collar to echo the collar on the shirt, at least partially, so that the points lined up, so rather than start from scratch, I recycled the pattern that I devised for the collar of the jacket and added extra fabric to the side to work with later. It worked better than I hoped, except for my fabric choice.

I went with a beautiful georgette I found on Goldhawk Road in London, which, if you’ve never used it before, is a royal pain. It slips, it burrs, it doesn’t want to hold the shape of a collar. It drapes well, but it needed something to give it some oomph. 

So I added a light interfacing to it, which made it stand up nicely, although I realised that it was a little large. And the interfacing was a little small, so if I moved wrong, it wanted to slip out, which I still need to find a solution for. 

In the end, I couldn't just leave it without attempting to do the seams the way it is done in the show. Fortunately I got Madge, my new dress form,  recently and I ended up draping the tucks and darts in the shirt to get the right fall. 

The sleeves from the Simplicity pattern fall perfectly, but needed cuffs and figured I’d just wing them. The first time I made the shirt, it was closing in on midnight the night before I was due to wear it, and I accidentally made them too small. So I had to redo these for the next wearing, but by then I’d run out of interfacing and only had a heavy sew-in interfacing. Seeing as I was once again doing this last minute, on a Friday after all the stores had closed, I just went with it. But it wasn’t comfortable. The georgette was thin enough that I could feel the creases in the interfacing and the whole thing almost felt like there was plastic inside, so that had to get changed again. 

Eventually, the cuffs got done. 

One major detail that was half-assed for the first wearing, but got properly fixed later was the trim. I looked everywhere for this trim. I scoured Dublin, I looked in Belgium, I trolled through London. I picked up 4 different trims and wasn’t happy with any of them. Well, that’s because they didn’t use trim in the show, they just stitched it in red thread. /facepalm

Adding the thread was very easy. I did 5 rows of parallel thread lines echoing the edges of the collar and the cuffs. It looks great, and I was quite happy that I added that little detail. I just wish I’d realised before buying all that other trim….

And that is Peggy's shirt. It is a little low, and if I did it again I'd use something other than georgette, because even though it looks great, it was a royal pain to work with. It is both visually and historically correct for the 1940's but in future I'd be happy to have something easier to work with but slightly less accurate.

This is probably the last complete post about this costume, specifically, unless people have questions. If you'd like to see more photos of the overall look, you should check out my Facebook where these things keep turning up. 

I am so happy with how it turned out overall. I love the costume. I love the fit. And people's reactions to it are just wonderful to see. So I'll leave you with one of my favorite shots of it so far.

Photo by George Germaine

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Fixing Broderie Anglaise

Ok, so its probably not ‘proper’ broderie anglaise, but it is cutwork fabric with stitched holes in it, and this would probably work even if you didn’t want to hand-stitch the embroidery back in for broderie anglaise as well. 
The problem was simple. My friend’s little girl had sat/caught/somehow ripped the holes in her dress and her mother asked could I hem it up? Of course, I said, but then on looking closer I thought, actually, I might be able to fix this. 
These were proper holes. The fabric had been ripped between the various holes, and certain pieces just didn’t exist anymore. So I knew I would need new backing material to fill in where none existed anymore. I used sew-in heavy lining, because it happened to be on hand. I only had white, though, so first I took a piece and tea-dyed it. 
If you’ve never tea-dyed things, it is ridiculously easy. Heat water, add tea bag, add project, wait. I left it on the windowsill for a few hours, and when it came out, I rinsed it and left it to dry overnight. The match isn’t 100% perfect, but its pretty darn close. I mostly wanted it close enough, and it worked for that. 
This ended up being surprisingly easy.  I pinned the lining to the fabric, using probably more pins than were necessary, trying to approximate where the holes should line up. Then, I simply zigzagged on a very short stitch around every hole. 
There were some sections where I had to rebuild the missing fabric. Most of these I did by outlining what I wanted to to finish the existing holes and then continuing to zigzag to fill in some of the middle sections. 
To add extra strength and prevent it from falling apart again when I cut the holes out, I went ahead and stitched down the lining farther away from the holes as well, creating sections around it that had the lining in them. 
Then it was a matter of taking the trusty scissors to the holes and cutting around the overall edge. 

I was pretty happy with how this came out. 

Above you can see the two fixed places from the backside. And below is the final fixes from the front.

You can certainly tell that the original hole pattern is not continued, but you can only tell if you’re looking closely. Importantly, it definitely does not look like there are holes ripped in the dress, so I’m considering this a win.

Hopefully my solution will stick in the wash long enough that her mother thinks so too!

Thursday, July 30, 2015

World Embroidery Day

Today is apparently World Embroidery Day, and its being celebrated by All One Thread with tales from around the world.

This was my submission (with a new photo):

I am from Ireland and this is my favorite embroidery that I have ever done. It is wool crewel based on a design by Inspirations Magazine. However, that's not why I love it.

I love this embroidery because it reminds me of so much that I've lost and how much I still have. The day I started this piece, my home town was in the middle of a massive forest fire that burned 48,000 acres in Northern New Mexico. I was half a world away in my new home of Ireland and an emotional wreck, worried about my family, my home, the beautiful forests I grew up in.

I worked on the blanket for the entire time that the fire was burning and then put it away. For a while I didn't think I could finish it because every time I picked it up it reminded me of the fire and how much we had lost in it. I considered giving it away to someone else so I wouldn't have to see it and the memories that it brought back.

Eventually, I picked it back up and finished it and realised there was no way I could give it away. I may have started this embroidery during one of the worst weeks of my life, but the embroidery also brought me back from those depths. Now, I see the warmth it gives me, the relief that everyone was all right, and all the work I did to get back from the dark places that fire took my mind.

I love this blanket. I use it almost every day. It reminds me to be strong, and that good times will come once again.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

My First Sewing Project: Teaching Kids to Sew

A few weekends ago I had the pleasure of going over to a friend’s house to help her two little girls learn how to sew. It was wonderful. I’ve always enjoyed teaching, but this particular type of teaching was new to me. I normally deal with adults, and while I enjoy that, there is something beautiful about helping a small person along their first forays into a hobby I love dearly.

The project we chose was pretty perfect for the task- we took two old dresses/skirts and changed them into curtains for the girl’s playhouse. The end result wasn’t something that would win prizes, but it was fully functional, and nearly 100% done by the girls. They were so pleased and kept showing everyone they could their new curtains at the barbecue we had later on.

Of course, teaching kids to sew isn’t the easiest task either, so I did a good bit of planning and preparing, and thought I’d share what I learned along the way.

1) Choose the right project.

This is a piece of advice I give a lot, but it is as true for this as it is everywhere else. Not all projects will be suitable for children, and certainly not every project will be something that will interest them. Keep it simple. Your goals with a first sewing project should:
  • Introduce the child to the sewing machine
  • Teach the child how to be safe with the sewing machine
  • Give the child a chance to try sewing out
  • Build confidence that the child can do this.

Pick a project that you can do start to finish in one day. Kids often don’t have the same kind of patience as adults, and they like the instant gratification of something coming together that they can show off at the end of the day.

It is also a good idea to keep it simple in terms of what kind of sewing will be done. Straight lines are great. Complicated things like ruffles, top stitching, and curves can be kept for a later project. You can always make dolls clothes next time, after you’ve made Dolly a simple blanket. A lot of this will come down to who the child is and what will work with them, which brings us to our next point.

2) Know your ages.

Children of different ages will find different projects interesting and possible. So plan your project knowing how old they are if at all possible. Different ages will also have different abilities to focus and different attention spans, but you will almost certainly need plenty of patience no matter what the age. A child's age will affect different things too that you might not think about.

I worked with a 4 and 7 year old. The 7 year old could pretty much do everything I showed her how to do and was so taken with it she was quite convinced that she should be allowed to put the replacement zipper into a dress I’d said I’d mend. Ambitious? Yes, but I think if we’d had a lot more time, she certainly could have helped with some of it.

The 4 year old wanted to do everything (as every sibling will want to do what the other does), but just couldn’t. It wasn’t that she didn’t have the ability, it was that she physically couldn’t do everything at the same time. She could happily feed the fabric through the machine, but her legs wouldn’t reach the pedals at the same time. She could press the pedals, but only by standing on the floor, at which point she couldn’t see the fabric properly to safely feed it through.

Knowing the children you’ll be working with, you’ll be able to plan how you can adjust plans to accommodate the child’s abilities.

3) Involve them in every step

If your selected project involves complicated cuts with scissors you don’t want children using, or you’re scared they will cut themselves with the rotary cutter- pick a different project. There’s nothing as boring as watching someone else do your project for you. It will turn them right off, bore them, and if you’re very unlucky, make them decide sewing isn’t for them.

Things you need to plan on doing with them-
  • Explaining how the sewing machine works
  • Cutting fabric
  • Using the sewing machine
Do not underestimate the amount of explaining you will do! If you don’t know everything your sewing machine does, take this as an opportunity to learn, because I guarantee you the questions you will get asked may stump you. I had everything from “where does the needle go?” to “how does it catch the thread on the other side?” to “Why won’t my fabric come apart now?” You need to know how sewing works so that you can explain it in simple terms that children will understand. “Magic” is not an acceptable answer, no matter how much you want to say it!

Cutting fabric is here on the list because you can’t make a sewing project without cut fabric. You could pre-cut fabrics, but the children will have more fun if you let them in on it. They will also take greater ownership of the project if they get to do everything, which is good because it keeps them interested. Teach them how to cut safely, and make sure you have scissors that will cut fabric easily for them to use (not your good Ginghers, but better than the round tipped plastic scissors most kids seem to own for school). If cutting the fabric is difficult with the scissors you give them, they will be far less interested in completing the project, and you won’t have even gotten to the fun part.

The last part of this is of course the main event- using the machine! The girls I was with were absolutely fascinated and all wanted to spend time using it. I only had two, but we still had to share the machine, so watching how many children you’re going to have doing this might be something you need to do. I don’t know how well I would’ve coped with too many more.

Importantly, they need to learn how to sew semi-straight lines. I gave the girls scraps to practice on before we took our new enthusiasm (if not skills) to the main event. I think they may have actually loved just playing on the scrap pieces as much as they enjoyed sewing the curtains together. Give them plenty of time so that they understand the idea of feeding fabric through the machine and do show them how to go forward and backward. If you have particularly inquisitive children, this could be the only thing you do, as I found that they had a definite desire to try every different setting on the machine, whether it was necessary or not!

Remember though, we aren’t looking for perfection. My philosophy on this is that your first sewing project should build your confidence, so I specifically made certain not to criticise when our lines got wobbly. I just taught them how to raise the foot, get back on track, and begin again. This goes back to picking the right project, as if you start off with something that has to be done RIGHT, you may find that everyone will get frustrated.

Lastly, make certain you explain how to keep your fingers from getting under the needle or foot or anywhere else that might end in tears. Which brings us to possibly the most important tip-

4) Focus on safety and fun

Teach good practices now. If you think it is important not to end up with a needle through the finger, then teach them how prevent that from happening. I taught the girls to keep their hands well away from the needle as they fed the fabric through, and you know what? No one had an accident. I also was certain to supervise quite a lot of the early work until I was certain they were doing things in a way that was safe.

I also chose to not use pins. I did this because the project was so simple, but also because it ensured there were no tears when fingers/hands/bums found the sharp end unexpectedly. I happen to own Wonder Clips for my quilting projects, so when we needed things held together specifically, I used those, but mostly we just held things in place. There was no need for these to be 100% perfect curtains, and holding fabric together is yet another skill you can teach. It also meant the day flowed well as there wasn’t the wait to put pins in. Could you use pins? Absolutely, for the right child and the right project.

I also didn’t bother with ironing, again because things wouldn’t need to be perfect. When I go back for our next project, I will definitely be using pins and irons and using that opportunity to teach them how to use both correctly and safely.

But of course, the most important thing is to make sure kids have fun! If they are having fun, you will find that you will have fun too. I certainly enjoyed my time passing on my love of sewing, and I’m fairly certain I’ve infected them with the excitement as we already have the next project lined up.
~ eliste

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Agent Peggy Carter: Part 2, The Suit

Peggy's suit is definitely one of the most distinctive pieces, and no, it isn't just a blue suit off the rack, sadly. It is clearly modeled on 1940s styled suits, with a longer length to the jacket and the A-line skirt.
Photo by George Germaine
Finding a reasonable pattern for this turned out to be quite easy. I used the Simplicity 3688 pattern as a base as it was already 40's in style. Although the piecing of the jacket was wrong, it gave me a good basis to start from. Don't get me wrong, if you're looking for a reasonable pattern this is actually quite a good basis to start from, but the suit I wore is certainly not a direct copy from the Simplicity 3688 pattern. The silhouette lines are right, and the pattern is easy to follow and if there's a better one out there to base a 40's outfit on that isn't from the time period, I haven't found it. But there were things that just weren't quite identical to Peggy.

One of the more difficult parts to get right for Peggy's suit is that it is not just one colour. A lot of cosplays out there just use a blue suit, and that's fine, but wasn't fine enough for me. You can see the different colours in the photos, and the designer talks about it in an interview, so I knew I wanted to make sure to have that detail in there. I had found a perfect blue rayon crepe for the suit/skirt, but finding additional blues that worked turned out to be a huge hassle (see previous posts on how dire Dublin's fabric selection is), so I settled on dying for my extra color.

Dye job!
To get the three colours in the jacket, I first had to find a polyester dye as none of the local shops had any. I did both colours in the same dye bath, just leaving half the fabric in twice as long as the other. The difference between the two secondary colours is not drastic, but I was happy it worked out at all. They probably used different fabrics in the show, but that just wasn't happening for me, so dye it was. Actually, I'm pretty happy with these results and it meant I had the same hand in the fabric, so it all came together nicely.

The jacket needed a lot more alterations than the skirt. The piecing had to be changed, the flare of the collar was wrong and needed broadening, and I had to get in the spaces for the three different colours.

Jacket bodice from patterning to lined.
Queue a lot of me cutting, sewing, drawing lines on myself, re-patterning, and repeat.

I made the mockup, changed the lines, made a new mockup, change the lines again, and eventually got a pattern. I think I ended up sewing the jacket together 5 times in various versions of mockups before I was happy with the seam lines, collar, and silhouette. Fortunately, I didn't do this in the fashion fabric until I had the pattern right or else there would have been tears.

Various process shots working towards the underlining.
Then it was mostly a matter of construction. I also went to the trouble of underlining the jacket. This gives the jacket a lot more structure than if I'd just used the fashion fabric. It ended up being a lot of painstaking hand sewing, but it was definitely worth it when you feel the heft and weight of the jacket. It also sits better with the extra fabrics in it and I could attach the interfacing to the underlining instead of the crepe, which meant it kept its beautiful look.

All the underlining ever....
The skirt pattern was close enough that I just went with it. In theory, the top of the skirt could be altered a bit to be more accurate, but its not going to be seen much, if any, so I left it. I did change it from the pattern in that I used an invisible zip instead of a normal zip plus button. As far as I can tell, the invisible zip is what's used in the original.
Adding horsehair braid to the skirt.
I chose not to underline the skirt, as I loved the hand of the fabric and wanted its swish, but I did give it a lining so there was no chance of it being see-through. The one thing I did do differently was add in horsehair braid on the lining of the skirt. I thought about putting it on the fashion fabric and decided against it, which I think was the right call. This way the lining acts as a mini-petticoat and gave the skirt a much fuller and poofier end than otherwise.

Button holes!
In the end I made a shirt for Peggy as well. I'm really glad I did as the store-bought shirt I had for her just didn't have the same lines and wouldn't have looked nearly as amazing. I did end up using the Simplicity 3688 pattern shirt sleeves, which are perfect for that 40's look, but I free-handed the rest of the pattern to try to get something approximating what you see in the shot. The shirt still needs some work, but it worked for the day.

I might have been a tad excited putting it on. Excuse the mess.
Overall, I am so happy with how the suit/shirt combo came out. The silhouette that came out is just about perfect, especially with the flare the horsehair braid gave to the skirt which I really had put in as an afterthought. It balanced out the heavy shoulders with the bottom of the skirt and really gave it that vintage 40's vibe.

Photo by George Germaine
Wearing Peggy was great. Like I said, she's amazing and kickass, and I couldn't help but walk with my head up and full of confidence. You can't really pull that hat off without it. I can't wait to wear her again, as she was just so much fun to run around it- and comfortable to boot!

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Agent Peggy Carter: Part 1

This costume wasn't originally planned. Some times, you just have to go where the will takes you, and this cosplay is certainly one of those.
Agent Peggy Carter Reference Pic
I've had a thing for a while about the 1940s and its fashion, which was thoroughly reignited when I saw Marvel's Agent Carter TV show that came out this year. With every episode I saw I just knew that I had to become Peggy Carter. She's everything I strive to be- smart, witty, pretty, competent, and kickass while still being very feminine. After about 2-3 episodes I was completely obsessed. I'm quite pleased that I managed to pull this all together in the time I did as my timelines usually are significantly longer than this, but really the fact she's finished was definitely a case of mind over body as my fibromyalgia has been acting up again the last few weeks. June... blergh.

There were a bunch of things I simply bought- shoes, earrings, tights, Walther PPK, handbag. Peggy's actress, Hayley Atwell, has been kind enough to tweet out details like her lipstick and nail polish, so I have those too. I did take some liberties with her handbag as I wanted one that I would use outside of the costume, but it still had a vintage vibe to it and the colour worked really nicely with the hat.

I'm one of those people, you know. One of those who can't be happy just with things being close enough to correct. It has to be right. The suit and the hat are things that I feel have to be *just right* as they are basically the whole of the outfit, but I'll leave the suit until next week.

The hat as it arrived.

Her hat was not as easy as it might seem. I can't afford a Stetson Stratoliner, and most generic red fedoras either had too floppy brims, stood too tall on the head, or had the wrong look on the top of the hat.
Fixing the hat's proportions and silhouette
I fixed this with serious amounts of spray starch and a lot of futzing and fiddling to get the curves in the right place. I also cut the hat and removed about an inch of height to make it look more like I wanted it too. This worked out well, but ended up meaning I couldn't push it too far down my head so the wind plus hat was interesting.
Ribbon WIPs

The last of the hat was the ribbon and I tried desperately hard to find ribbon that I wouldn't have to make, to no avail. Everywhere wants to sell you red, white and blue ribbon (colours in that order) rather than any other combination. In the end I took three different colours of satin ribbon and sewed them together, folding the white in half to give it the right proportions.

I first tried hand sewing the ribbon (as I was feeling pressed for time and had a long bus journey within which to do it) but I didn't like how the ribbon reacted to the stitching, becoming a bit wavy. In the end I stuck it on the machine. It was easier than I thought it would be, and ended up looking well.

I tacked down the ribbon around the hat, added a button that looks vaguely like the one on Peggy's hat and called it done. I rather enjoyed making this. It was fun, and didn't take a dreadful amount of time.