This project has been building for months, if not for years. It really started with a lipstick. Mary Kay recently updated their lipstick line and one of the new colors is a gorgeous shade called Rich Fig. I adore this color, it has just the right undertones for me, not too berry, not too brown, just pretty. Problem is it's really a bronze skin-tone color which means it's dark. I love it but it is a little Goth/alternative on this Anglo-Saxon gal.
My comment was "the only way I can wear this is if I make a costume to match". Which got me thinking (always dangerous). Then I started thinking about the theme of Costume Con 2009 - Vampires, Villains & Vixens. Hummm. So I starting thinking about baddies I could see myself doing. Then it struck me, why not combine four things I love: opera, 18th century, fantasy & Rich Fig!
Queen of the Night
The Queen of the Night - the ultimate baddie from Mozart's The Magic Flute and one of my most favorite arias ever. The opera debuted in 1791 so I decided to make a contemporary costume.
I was originally thinking I would do a proper grand habit de cour, ( French Court Dress) but in the end I think a closed-front zone front feels more 1791. So a zone-front with wide pannier and court train. The gown will be made of black cotton velveteen and the stomacher I'm not sure about but I'm considering silver tissue lame or metallic crinkle organza. All the little dots on the sketch? Swarovski crystals. Oh yeah!
This stretch velvet will become my train. I was talking to a dear friend about this project and she said she had the perfect fabric for me and here it is. I'm too chicken to use stretch velvet on the gown (not that there is enough anyway) but as a train it will be amazing. The gradations in color are not from the camera, that is the way it's been dyed/processed. Pretty cool! I'll line it in silver fabric.
A necklace set courtesy of e-bay. I don't know it struck me as "Queen of the Night" when I saw it . It's a bit modern though so I may use it as the base of my headdress or maybe on the front of the dress ...
August 21 2008
I've started work on the first part of this project, the pannier! I started yesterday.
I was going to work on new 18th century stays first but yesterday, while going through the stash, I discovered that I had over 12 yards of hoop boning (a lot more than I thought was there!). Then I found a sturdy white cotton, some twill tape and hoop end caps also in the stash and decided to just go for it since I had all the supplies I needed.
Per Katherine's example I'm using the Simplicity pattern. So far so good. The real point of this post though is to express the sentiment:
I HATE flat-felled seams!
It's not that they are hard or anything it's just the whole sewing seams twice thing. It's annoying and I get bogged down, bored and un-motivated quickly. French seams are the same. *sigh* I know I'll be happy I did it in the end though. Okay enough whining, back to it!
August 22 2008
The pannier are done! Unless I decide I really to need a ruffle at the bottom that is. I'm still pondering. To sum up it was very simple and straightforward but boring and pretty time consuming to make. My hands are sore from cutting and inserting all the boning. I'm icing one wrist as I type. Ice is such a wonderful thing ...
Right now I'm thinking the pannier look too big but then it could just be that my room is too small. I actually had to rearrange my furniture a little so Narcissa could model them. This is going to be an interesting project to work on!
Next up, the under petticoat - otherwise know as the toile for the outer petticoat ...
August 23 2008
My pannier petticoat is not being friendly. I thought I understood the theory but maybe not. I'm trying to take Mela's advice and tell my fabric who's boss but it's not working so far. Perhaps I should throw it on the floor and trample it to show who is in charge...
Katherine, did you say you took pics of the constructing of your court dress petticoat/skirt? If so now would be a great time to post them. Email works too. *bats eyelashes*
August 24 2008
Zee pannier, in all their cramped glory!
The petticoat is coming along. Thanks to Katherine's tutorial, some stealth videos I took of her at CoCo and look through my extant garment files I think I'm getting there.
At least it's looking like Katherine's so I can't be too far off. Katherine you are my hero and seriously I owe you one! *hugs*
It's poufing on the very outside pleat in a way that is annoying me. I'm going to try doing the other side of the petticoat a little differently, hiking the end up further on the pannier (I think it's down a little low) and adding pleats to the top seam and see if that helps. Thing is I'm wondering if it's just one of those 18th century things though. Like the poufing at the back of a 18th century sleeve that is actually correct.
Ideally I don't want pleats in the seam, I like the look of the flat top pannier. However in reviewing all my books and images I noticed that all the flat skirt top that I like so much are on the square-ish English pannier, not the sloping French like the one I just made. Huh. So maybe not.
Anyway I think my mock-up has the right amount of fabric for the skirt (3.5 panels of 45") so I estimated the amount I need (5.5 yd), measured the black velveteen in the stash and there is enough for my skirt - yay! I might even be able to squeeze out the bodice, we'll see. If not there is another piece in the stash, it's just a different dye lot. I don't think I care. Yay for over-buying fabric for pirate costumes! :>
August 25 2008
The right side is the first try (pleats lower), the left side is second attempt (pleats higher, then close ups of the first try - I think I actually like the first attempt better, it's less poufy.
The second attempt. I didn't end up messing with pleats in the top seam. I thought I'd work on one issue at a time.
Then I brought out the stretch velvet I'd earmarked for the train. I tried it the way I'd originally planned to us it (no pics but basically around the waist with the pleating in the center back and hanging straight back like this). Not very cute in the stretch velvet.
Then I draped the train over the sides of the pannier, changing the pleating a little so it looked nice (like this & this). I like it! I think it shows off the fabric much better. Also it saves me the hassle/expense of a lining for the train, plus it covers up much of the sides and the issues I'm having there.
So I'm going to skip another toile, and make the skirt like the first attempt. I don't feel like messing about the other ideas I have (like changing the way I cut the dip in the front or adding pleats to the sides of the pannier top seam). Poufing slightly or not, I am content. I'll save my anal perfectionism for the court dress with English pannier. :>
August 29 2008
I worked on QofN on Wednesday... just now posting. So sad. It's been that kind of week. Anyway, I whipped up a bodice toile based on my b&w stripe jacket (since it fits so beautifully). I tried that on as well as the pannier and petticoat. It's looking pretty good. Haven't figured out exactly what I want to do with the bodice back ... but the rest is just tweaks. I'm not even going to bother with a sleeve toile since I was super happy with the jacket.
This outfit has been so easy I'm starting to get nervous! I must be doing something wrong! My plan of a simply constructed frock that I bling out the wahzoo can't possibly be working after all! That is too clever. :>
September 6 2008
Remind me to not make a black toile again.
I wanted black to mimic my fashion fabric, so I could better visualize the finial product, but I'm finding I don't enjoy working on it. The black drains me somehow and I can only work on it for short bursts of time. Not a good sign for my QotN.
I'm hoping the excitement of velvet will help me get over that. Rich, nappy goodness - yay!
September 6 2008
This post is brought to you by rain! Rain has been the order of the day. Rain, rain, rain. Power flickering on and off. At least we didn't lose it completely, that would have been miserable.
I just finished tracing the master pattern for the QotN bodice. It took me a couple of toiles to get the back fitted nicely (drafting out that peplum) but it was worth the extra effort. This is going to serve as a master pattern for my upcoming Pimpernel re-vamp and a new English gown too so it needed to be right.
September 30 2008
Yay for Joyce Trimming! I now have 1,296 rhinestones in hematite, crystal moonlight (2 sizes), & crystal (2 sizes). I hope that is enough - those suckers are expensive!
October 6 2008
Good news is the fabric for the zone-front came in (a crinkle silk metallic) and it's gorgeous. Bad news is this gown is now officially on hold until I can get some new stays made. Moo.
January 5 2009
*swoon* I am in love!! (Thanks sakka for the link to her blog!)
I've been really drawn to this shape of "zone" front lately but this is truly a stunning reproduction of it. She has the proportions just right. So now I'm wondering if I should alter my QofN plans to this shape. I'm also liking the buttons. Miss-I-loath-doing-buttonholes. Weird.
April 7 2009
I laced myself up into my newly finished stays and tried on the Queen of the Night toile I worked on last fall. I remembered it looking pretty good but stopped work on it until I had new stays (just in case they fit differently). The toile needed some slight tweaks but nothing major. I mostly re-drew the neckline, the "zone" shape and the center front point (having changed my mind about those shapes). A little trimming around the armcyle and that was about it.
Suddenly I was done and like ready to cut out something out. Wow! I'm so glad I put in some work on this a couple of months ago, even without new stays. It's going to make my life so much easier now. I'm now feeling quite lighthearted and optimistic about finishing my CC27 line-up, especially since I can use this pattern as the base for my Pimpernel revamp and the Fort Fred outfit. So three patterns in one. Whoo hoo!
So I spent the rest of my sewing time tracing off the master patterns for QofN - yay!
April 8 2009
I was going to cut out multiple projects today but i only worked on QofN. I couldn't help myself! Once all the fabrics were cut and in a neat pile they just cried out to be sewn together!
So the bodice is pretty much done, just a bit of handwork to finish up on the inside and the sleeves. The velvet over bodice came out a little smaller than I intended, not sure what happened there, but I'm going to put the sleeves in before I try it on to see if I like it or not. I have plenty of fabric to re-cut that piece. It would be a pain to redo it but if it's not flattering what is the point of wearing it, right?
I love the silver metallic silk tissue - it's so rich! I had bought some cheap silver lame to line it with but in the end I lined it with black cotton. The black made it look richer. You know, I think I'm going to have to come up with another project so I can work with the metallic silk tissue again, it really is cool stuff.
April 14 2009
Taxes are done - yay! So the race for the CC27 finish begins. Here is the bodice for Queen of the Night. I was just checking the fit and it looks good to me! The sleeve is from my striped jacket, I simply enlarged it a tiny bit since it didn't have ANY ease in it last time. Pretty but not all that comfy for long periods of time. This version has a funky puffiness at the back but if I take that out I won't be able to move, so puffiness it is.
Last night I started work on the pannier skirt. I mocked up the skirt last summer but was never really happy with the results. Thanks to koshka_the_cat I figured out the correct pleating method but I found my pleated section puffed out in a very annoying way.
So this time I decided to drape the skirt in my velveteen, so I'd know exactly how the fabric would behave. When I pleated it the period way, I got the same puffiness in the side skirt. Looking through my files of extant garments I noticed they have the same puffiness in the same place but in taffeta and satin it's not as obvious. Moo.
So I tried something new, using the same sort of pleats but bringing them all the way to the waist. No puffiness. It also used less fabric, important since I'm using limited yardage from the stash. After some pondering I decided that since this costume is all fantasy anyway I would throw historical accuracy out the window and go with option #2. It's prettier that way, do I really need another reason? I think not.
I measured out how much yardage I would need (my waist to floor measurements x number of panels required) and I had exactly the right amount of fabric, like down to a ¼". *happy butt wiggle* It doesn't get any better than that!
I didn't feel like standing up and draping anymore so I turned my attention to the bodice. I pinned in the second sleeve, finished off all the seams on the inside with whip stitching and sewed on all the hooks.
To be honest I'm a little scared at how well this project is going - it's too good to be true!
April 14 2009
My QotN bodice is now the proud owner of 11 hand sewn hooks and eyes - yay! Hems on the sleeves, some Swarovski rhinestones and it will be finished. *happy butt wiggle*
I've switched to working on the under petticoat for the QotN. I figured now that I have an idea of the basic layout and how my fabric will behave I should make all my mistakes on the petticoat that won't show. Well, the petticoat that will only show at the underwear breakfast anyway. (I assume this is still happening?) Pics to come...
April 15 2009
Pannier petticoats are boring. Boring, boring, boring. They also involve math, which is not friendly.
April 16 2009
Yesterday I focused on the under petticoat for the Queen of the Night.
I figured A) that I should make my mistakes on the under petticoat and B) since no one would see it I should have fun with the color. So I went with a blinding yellow that is a close match to my stay binding. Circus anyone?
My first step was to pad out my dress form a bit and pin on a piece of black bias tape that was my finished waist measurement. I perfected the size and such of the side pleats first, adding a slit in the side so I can get into my pockets.
Once I got that down I pleated the front half of the finial skirt, pinning the seaming of the side panels. (To get them to not pucker I had to shimmy one side of the side pleated section up a bit, it wasn't even at the waist!).
To get the front to fall nicely I then had to shimmy the front up and mark where the bias tape "waist" was. I then took it off the dress form; making sure to leave a 1/4th section of the waist with pleats pinned and trimmed the waist according to my markings.
I repeated the trimming of my panels of fabric, using my trimmed off scraps as a guide.
I then seamed all the pieces together, cut slits in the sides and hemmed those up. Then I started pleating the waist, using the pinned section as my guide.
Once the waist was pleated to the correct size I popped it back on the dress form just to make sure everything still worked. It did! I basted the waist and set it aside until I can go by more fabric for the waistband.
April 17 2009
What my room looked like last night Or: A Glimpse of Sewing Life ...
Yesterday's sewing time was devoted to cutting, seaming and pleating the QotN over petticoat.
Yay for black velveteen!
When I was done I had to put the outfit on Narcissa to see what it looked like. Ooooh, ahhh!
Of course I couldn't just leave it there - I had to try out some of the gems, jewelry and such I've been collecting all year and see if the bling worked. FREAKING AWESOME is all I have to say about that! The white dots on the bodice are pins so I could get an idea of how the rhinestones will look.
I counted the pins as I put them on and I have 150 there so 300 for the whole bodice. Dude I have like 900 so I will be able to go to town and "encrust" the front nicely, use some on the sleeves and have left overs for the skirt. Whoo hoo!!
I think my favorite part are the vintage moon earrings Bridget bought me for Christmas. They are the perfect size and scale for the center front. That just worked out, I didn't plan it, although looking back I should have! And hello - they go with the whole Queen of the Night thing so nicely. The stones on the skirt are glass "beads" from Michael's. I need some more but have bought out my local store ... I'll make the trek up north to see what the Garrison store has next week.
Ahh, I am so stoked with this frock I don't even know what to do with myself!!
This am I took all the pins out and tried on the petticoats so Mom could mark the hems. The bulkiness on the sides is causes some fitting issues with the bodice so I'll have to let out the side seams a bit. Mreh. This ladies and gentlemen is why we flat line!
April 21 2009
Things are progressing, despite the lack of updates here. My life refuses to go as planned and days I thought would be sewing days are not and days I thought would not be sewing days turned out to be just that. Things just keep coming up, which is both a good and bad thing. My schedule seems determined to stay in flux, so I'm just trying to be diligent with the moments I do have and hope for the best.
Friday I got my yellow petticoat hemmed and waist banded. It was being a complete butt so it took all night. Wretched petticoats.
April 27 2009 | 7.07pm
SO behind in CC sewing it isn't funny.
Yeah, that about covers it.
So I started sewing at 4:30pm today. I hemmed the Queen of the Night skirt, working on the waist band. I'm *this* close to being done with black fuzz. Yay!!
On the agenda tonight:
QotN waist band
let out side seams in QotN bodice
sew together panels for blue print skirt and ruffle
unpick blue print sleeves (they need to be taken in a bit)
April 27 2009 | 9.16pm
QotN waistband - done!
I did several layers of stacked pleats on the sides so I ended up doing more by hand than usual. Stacked pleats in velveteen = way thick that machine doesn't like. Turns out I'm in the mood for lazy handwork tonight so it's okay ...
April 27 2009 | 10.03
Tweaks to front of QotN zone front finished. *check!*
Earring backs removed from moon earrings. *check!*
Former moon earrings sewn down to QotN front. *shiny check!*
April 29 2009
I am gluing rhinestones. Dude this is tedious!!
April 30 2009
It is about 3am and I am just finished gluing rhinestones. *throws confetti* Man was that time consuming! There isn't anyway to speed up the process. Pick up a stone with tweezers, dip stone in glue, place stone on fabric, press down. Repeat 934 times.
And I thought eyelets were bad!
May 7 2009
Yesterday was a fun day and a definite highlight was getting dressed in sparkles & stars!
So much of my outfit was thrown together last minute - I was taking off necklace fasteners (to tie with a ribbon instead) as I was getting dressed and hot gluing stars onto bobby pins right before I put them in my hair. I never did sew the hooks and bars on my skirt (safety pins to the rescue!) and I totally made up my hair style on the spot, while having a bad hair day no less. But somehow it all came together and the end result was magical. I don't know how it happened but I'm so glad it did!
I felt like a rock star as I was complemented on my sparkles by friends and strangers alike. It was a fabulous evening! I put on way too much make-up, posed for countless pics helped Aubry finish her cosmo, tried in vain to take lots of pics of the fabulousness around me, laughed, hugged, drank champagne, ate pastries, danced to "I Want Candy", used 3 cotton pads and lots of eye-make remover to get all my eye make-up off and finally fell asleep in the wee hours of the morning - all while sparkling up a storm!
I have no idea when or where but I can't wait to wear this gown again! I'm glad I left off the train (it would have been horrible trying to navigate the social on top of the pannier!) but I've decided I would like to add it for next time. I'd also like to create a proper headdress of some kind. I'm thinking one of those loose turban things of the 1790s would be fun. I also need more stars on my person ...
July 22 2011
Just keep sewing, just keep sewing ...
Yes it's two weeks before Costume College and I'm in a crazed state - just about right! I still have heaps to do including accessories and alterations on Queen of the Night. I have yummy new jewelry, including a pair of matching owl bracelets, a black and white rhinestone ring that looks a bit like an eye and a lovely tiara.
I have more to work on though including a new skirt waistband, star & moon headdress (I have to get my craftiness on for that one!), and a new under petticoat (so the bright yellow wasn't such a hot idea).
Earlier this week I made the command decision to ship the bulky QotN elements to my sister Bridget (who isn't leaving the Bay Area to come see me until early Sat morning) rather than a local LA costumer (who would leave Thursday). Those few extra days of lee-way make so much difference!
I can't sit back though - QotN isn't the only thing I'm working on!
July 24 2011
Worked on the star & moon headdress today. It was nice to get from behind the sewing machine and work on something crafty for a change!
The stars were a lucky find at Jo-Ann's, precut multi-sized stars - perfect! The moon I had to make myself. So I got online, found an image of a crescent moon I liked, played around with it in my graphics program and printed it out. I think traced it out onto card stock (evening out the ordinal graphic) and used that as a guide to trace my design onto balsa wood. The balsa wood was cut with an exacto knife (balsa wood is tricky on curves!).
I then painted the moon and stars front and back with a metallic acrylic craft paint before adding a layer of silver foil to the fronts. They were then finished off with a layer of gloss and decorated with rhinestones.
Some craft wire hot glued tot he backs (so I can stick the pieces in my hair) and I was done. I'm really quite pleased with the results! Some big 1780s hair and tall black feathers and I'll be good to go ...
August 7 2011
Overall I was pleased with the way QotN came together at Costume College. I had entirely too much fun wearing my bat beauty patch, my glitter lashes and all my rhinestones. getting there was a bit rough as i had a bad case of food poisoning the night before. Besides being tired and just not feeling 100%, another unfortunate consequence of my illness was that I was feeling far too awful the night before to wash and set my hair in curlers. So my original QotN big hair plan didn't work. Luckily I'd brought pretty much every hair piece I own and my sister Bridget (who joined me at the Gala this year) is a genius with hair. Also all the feathers and celestial shapes helped camouflage my bad hair night. I love the 18th century crap in the hair thing!
The QotN wasn't the ideal costume to wear to a crowded Gala when you aren't feeling 100% though. I was feeling much better by the gala, even better from when Bridget had arrived, but trying to maneuver around got to be too much for my energy level and I spent most of my Gala out in the hall. I had a good time but I know I missed a lot of the party which makes me sad. I definitely felt like a rock star in QotN but I think I'm ready to go back to less ridiculously huge, more maneuverable Gala dresses for a while.