Sunday, June 5, 2011

Necessity is - well, you know the rest!

I love my sword cane!  It's a glossy black with a gorgeous silver, oriental-ish dragon's head.  Unfortunately, the blade length is probably illegal everywhere.

I wanted to use it at the Houston ComicPalooza as part of my steampunk costume.  I didn't know if security at the con might include metal detectors and I didn't want to be explaining the intricacies of costuming bits and bobs to the not-so-nice officers.

My first thought was that I might be able to remove the sword blade.  After some effort (and finding out that the blade is really sharp!), I was almost ready to give up.

Then, I looked at my new wand - glistening in all its black and silver glory. My inner Slytherin whispered - maybe you could put the wand in the cane in an homage to luscious Lucius Malfoy. Ok, I am a Hufflepuff but let's face it - there ain't no eye candy for us in the movies. Dead/sparkly Cedric/Edward just doesn't do it for me.

I slowly inserted the want into the cane, wondering how I could secure it in place.  To my surprise, it fight snugly and with a few twists, was secured in place.

There is a downside - I lose about three inches in cane height, which is ok for me since I am short.  For a taller person, the wand-cane might need to carried as a swagger stick or for the Potter-minded, a Smelting's stick.

Sword blade, cane, wand - that's a 15" blade

Inspiration strikes!
Now street -legal (until they outlaw wands)

Monday, May 30, 2011

Bustle- ing About

Simplicity 2207 - I bought this for the bustle pattern.  Now, at first glance, the pattern piece looks like it is upside down.

Straight across the bottom and one side (center back) and curved at the top (marked waistline).  You cut two and seam at center back, then gather on either side of this seam.  So you now have a curved top and a curved bottom.  You gather the curved top (marked waistline) to the waistband - after applying trim, etc.  I am assuming the ties on the waistband go to the back where they can be tucked into the skirt or hidden by the jacket.

Actually pretty simple to make and hangs nicely - gives the hips a bit of bulk that looks good for this style. 

Now, this is a short bustle.  I decided to add a few things to make it my own.  If you have been reading my blog, you know that I have no hesitation in cutting apart clothes for their bits and pieces.  I happened to have half of a short black lace skirt and a shorter black lace overlay.  I attached the black lace skirt under the bustle and the lace overlay on top.  I like the layered effect.

Looking at clothes as simply pieces that I can reconfigure certainly adds a new dimension to my shopping trips. 

Ross is always a happy hunting ground for me.  I bought a gorgeous size 8 strapless silver gray evening dress just for the lovely bubble skirt.  The price was right- $9.95. I saw a super-cute bustle.  It took me about five minutes to rip open the back seam, gather the sides and pin on some trim.
Still trying to decide what type of waist closure to use.  Most bustles have long ties that wrap around the waist at least once, but I don't like the bulk.

Have fun with all this stuff!  Remember when you used to play dress-up?  You still can.  And if someone tells you to grow up, tell them you did!

The Frankenstein Skirt

My bad!  I didn't take any before pictures but I think my explanations will suffice.

I had a cheap costume-taffeta black skirt - very unremarkable.  It fit, but was a little snug.  I wanted to add something to the waist band that would make it more comfortable. I split open the back seam and took out the zipper.

I also had a pretty ugly black and white formal that was too small.  The top was cheesy, but the bottom was composed of several rows of scalloped organza.

Inspiration struck!  I cut off the skirt and started playing with gathering the waistband to fit the gap in the waistband of the taffeta skirt.  Gathering didn't work - to bulky.  I think started experimenting with pleats.  That worked perfectly.  I added about an inch and a half on each side since I might want to wear the skirt over a couple of layers.  I sewed each side of the organza skirt to the taffeta skirt, leaving about an 18" opening on one side which I will close with hooks, Velcro, or safety pins.  The large opening will help when I want to pull the skirt on over my head.

So, I have about 36" of scalloped organza tiers gathered in to about 6" at the top and flowing nice down to the hem.  The bustle effect is gorgeous.  Can't wait to wear this one!

Pictures to come soon.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Dueling Wands

I've been a Harry Potter fan since I read the first book years ago.  That's a funny story.  A friend had ordered the first two books from an English publisher - not sure if they were available in the States yet.  He kept suggesting I read HP and the Philosopher's Stone.  I just wasn't interested.  Then, I was trapped at a beach house during a storm with a flashlight and HP/PS.  I was hooked!

I have purchased wands...funny how they seem to disappear in my house (I suspect nargles).  I've been cleaning out and organizing craft supplies and as the piles grew, the wands just came together.

Of course, I am wondering when and why I acquired some of this stuff.

12" dowel rods- 1/4" diameter
3" mini-candle holder about 3/8" diameter
Elmer's glue
Black, gold, silver acrylic paint
glue gun
silver and gold aglets
silver and gold buttons
Krylon Triple-Thick Crystal coating - this stuff is awesome

I decided to tackle the black and gold wand first.  I wanted the wand to look old and well-used, as though the magic had melted and settled back into the finish.

 I sanded and painted both the rod and the candle holder black.  I mixed a little Elmer's glue with the gold paint and let it drip down from the top, pulling it down with a toothpick.  I then did this with black paint and glue.  I liked the look so I played with "sculpting" the texture using a toothpick and tweezers.

I used the hot glue gun for the gold button on the handle end and for gold aglet at the tip.  I plan to attach a patronus charm to it when I can find a little gold badger.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Vampire Ball Gown

This gown started out life as a markdown at Ross (yeah, I spend a lot of time looking at the sale racks) and I snagged this one for $19.

The dress is a basic halter top, lace-across back so popular for prom.  I liked the pickups on the skirt.  My first alternation was adding black and silver rhinestones to the pickup points.  Then I added a stretch lace ruffle around the top and allowed enough to make off-the-shoulder straps.

I wanted the swag effect in the front and a bustle in the back.  I did this with some black lace. 

Front View

Detail Front

Detail of pickup jewels

Back View
Non-resident Evil

As the Evil Stepsister with Evil cohorts Laura and Simone - Laura is a costumer and Simon's husband designed and created her costume

Disney princess invasion at Infinitus 2010 - our lovely Cinderella - Meka - made her dress

Sure - it still fits!

For those of us who are amply endowed or as a friend used to say "possess substantial commodities" we tend to outgrow jackets across the bustline.  It still fits across the shoulders and the arms are ok.

Such was the case with my very, very favorite velvet jacket which is now pushing 20.   Nipped-in waist, bustle in the back - what's not to love.  And I almost consigned it to the donate pile.  

I tried it on and it still fit across the shoulders and in the arms, but I was looking at a 4-5" gap in the front.  My first thought was to take off the original buttons, sew identical buttons on both sides and run some lacing or chains. That might be cute with a corset underneath the jacket. But my eyes fell upon a couple of very old and cheap FOH (Fredericks of Hollywood) back lace corsets also on the way out. 

This was the end result.

 That's the lace-up back of the corset sewed across the gap in the jacket front. Easy to get into - I just unlace it slightly and pull it on over my head.

I love the textures - great for Victorian and steampunk.

Here is the gorgeous back - there is a layer of crinoline under the velvet.

I usually wear the jacket with a high-necked lace blouse and and ankle-length lace skirt.

Now, what would I have done if the jacket was too tight or the sleeves didn't fit?  Easy - if you are not afraid of a little ripping. 

First, if the jacket has shoulder pads, take them out.  This can be easy - just clipping a few threads, or major surgery if the pads were inserted between the lining and the outer fabric.

If that is the case, I usually open the lining at the shoulder seam very carefully, starting about a half-inch in from either the neck or the shoulder.  In older jackets, the pad may be stiched down tightly.

If it's still too tight, take a close look at the lining.  It may be the problem. Open the lining seam(s) starting about one-half inch from the neck, waist, shoulder, armhole, etc.
If the jacket is still a bit tight, consider adding an insert into the back or sides.

If the arms are too tight, but fit at the shoulders, consider opening the top or bottom seam on the sleeve but leaving it closed at the wrist.  You could add a couple of pretty buttons on either side with ribbon ties.

Also, consider taking off the sleeves completely to make a vest. If you want the look of tie-on sleeves, sew some buttons at the shoulder and the top of the sleeves and use ribbons or chains to tie on the sleeves.  Get fancy and make a shoulder roll or epaulettes.