Monday, August 29, 2016

Don't Be Me.

WARNING TO MY INCREDIBLY DISCERNING READERSHIP: This post has nothing to do with historical sewing, and everything to do with things that aren't historical sewing.

Image result for 18th century dye pot

'Tis the season of Cosplay, and I'm up to the body part of your choice in the final stages of making two costumes. I'm in the home stretch (oh, please sewing gods, let it be so), but things got off to a rocky start. In the interest of whining about That Which Can Not Be Changed, and motivated slightly by the genuine urge to help others avoid the same mistake, I'd like to make a Costuming Public Service Announcement:

DO NOT and I repeat in all caps for fans of repetitive prose DO NOT purchase fabric that is not what you need with the intention of somehow magicking it into what you do need.

Go ahead. Laugh. I'll wait here.

Isn't this just the most sage, incredibly insightful advice ever? I know, it's common sense. Or rather, it should be common sense, but if life has taught me anything (spoiler: it hasn't), it's that sense is far from common. In this case, the lesson was annoying more than painful, but on the off-chance that there is another soul out there who is as trusting and naive as I am, I hope that my cautionary tale saves them the same frustration.

Yes, I price-shopped, and realized that I could save LITERALLY TENS OF CENTS by buying two textiles in wildly inappropriate colors, and dying it to match the material I actually wanted. Tens! And I've dyed fabric before (from a light color to a slightly darker color), plus, I dye my hair all the time! What's the big deal?? So, with a generous amount of smugness over my "thrifty" intentions, I purchased the fabric. Everything was dyed with the dregs of dye packets and bottles that I already owned. So thrifty! So frugal! It didn't quite go as expected, so then, I purchased some dye. Still thrifty! And some of it was on sale, so totally still a bit frugal!

Then, I purchased some MORE dye.

Then, I purchased some different dye.

Then, one night, I found myself sweating over my long-suffering washing machine, waiting for the optimal moment to dump my very last bottle of red dye into the drum so that it could mingle Santeria-style with some mumbled prayers and a cupful of the wrong kind of vinegar. It was well after midnight, but since the lower southeastern US is currently under a broad-spectrum weather curse (your choice: deadly floods, or triple-digit heat), my porch was only slightly cooler than the surface of the sun. In went the dye, in went the thrice-dyed "100% cotton" gauze, and for the fourth time in as many weeks, I found myself sitting on top of a running washer, contemplating my life choices.

Verdict: Not good, Threadlette. Not good at all.

In an effort to save myself the expense of paying an extra $1.60/yard for 3 yards of actually RED fabric, I spent $12 on dye. End result? Instead of red gauze, I have really really almost kind-of maybe mauve gauze that cost me the equivalent of an extra $4 per yard. Four dollars. And let's not factor in the bloody hours that I've spent on this little science project from creative hell, because that may actually sting a little.

Yes, I am somewhat pacified by the realization that it is a lot of fun to say "mauve gauze". But only somewhat.

I've learned my lesson. From now on, I'll only be dying large batches of fabric if the alternative is entirely cost-prohibitive, and/or the colors required aren't the two worst possible colors to try and dye fabric (red and black), and/or I don't have a vested interest in whatever unholy abomination emerges from my washing machine. Or maybe I'll forget all about this little lesson in three weeks. You just never really know.

Onward and upward!

Thursday, December 31, 2015

What year is it??

Let it be said: I'm nothing if not prompt.

So here's a complete wall of nothingness to close out this trip around the sun, aka "That Year That I Never Blogged About Anything Except A Fluff Piece Just To Have Something Listed For 2015."

This is a noble craft, truly.

First off, hello! If you're reading this, GOOD NEWS! The ration has ended. I've greatly missed sharing my thoughts here, and I appreciate that there are still people who check in once in a while to see if anything new is up. Since I've been extremely neglectful, it will take some time to sort out my thoughts (and the fantastic back-log of projects that never made it to the Big Time here at the House of Thread). Hopefully, I can use some compositional duct tape and desperation to cobble together a couple of earth-shatteringly amazing posts within the next week. Regularly scheduled blogging (ha) will commence at the previous rate of once every week or so, except on alternate Mondays that coincide with solar eclipses.

In the meanwhile, thank you so much to everyone who has contacted me privately and on the blog in the last year and a half. (Good grief, yes, it has been THAT long.) Whenever I formally pull my head from my neither regions and get back to this blog, it will be because of you.

Have a safe and Happy New Year, whatever you're up to! Please enjoy this traditional Holiday picture of a barefoot Shirley Temple clutching the hands of an inexplicably enormous clock whilst an elderly man pulls a long, knotted rope from his right nostril :

Monday, March 3, 2014

Pull up a busk and stay, why don't you?

Fresh from the killing fields of "research," our heroine appears! Resplendent in some bodacious polished cotton fabric that was probably rejected from the set of "Golden Girls", she demonstrates her abundant charms to the masses.

Bask in the glories of imperious glances and awkward selfies!

Come, my children, into the liiiiiiiiiight....

Dazzle your senses with an alluring up-cup shot of wrinkled fabric and load-bearing 1980's Waverly calico!

Why, hello.

Relish the bewildering confusion of yet another shot of No Bosoms, featuring an enticing peak at the hoarder-style pile of mess accumulating in the corner!

Most of that is my Goodwill pile, I swear.

There are a few important points I'd like to make:

1., These pictures are a bit on the "gently aged" side. Honestly, I think they are over a year old. That's significant because...

2., I'm a whole lot better at drawing my eyebrows on now! And...

3., I've since added bust gussets to liven things up in the Balcony seating, if you catch my drift.

I have no need for 1820-1840 stays, but I wish I were the kind of person who needed them, so I'm making them. It's the Kevin Costner in "Field of Dreams" approach to sewing. "If you elaborately plan, and then poorly execute it, logic will give way to miracles and invitations will coommmme..." Since there isn't precisely a pressing need for this type of garment, I decided to go for broke and make them as versatile as possible. Ideally, they will at least cover me from late Regency- late Romantic.

This was the intended target:

Via the Met, home of the Super-Famous Lusciously Embroidered Stays

The mock-up stays that I'm wearing are overall pretty solid in the fit department. The wrinkles at the waist are 99% the result of the incredibly graceful angle from which the picture was taken, and the length and bust height are both good. My original intention was to follow the "pattern" of the inspiration stays as much as possible. But... (there are always buts, even when you think you're just dealing with busts) the original cup design just wasn't working for me. Frankly, it was kind of amazing. I have the same voluptuous curves of a yard stick. What were the chances that I'd stumble upon a bust-cup design that wouldn't leave me enough room?? 

But, there it is. I agonized over it for a while, and finally decided to deviate. After all, my natural waist is *ha ha haaa ha sob* nowhere NEAR the position of the band on the inspiration stays. Then, I found this lovely pair...

I feel as if we've Met before...

...and I'm pretty sure that they are better suited to MY lovely pair. (har har) Though my need of a bust-gusset does not extend to the range of twosies, this pair of stays was clearly made for someone with my gawky, high-waisted mutant proportions. The plan is now to marry elements of the two stay models, which will probably result in something like this:


The duck-billed platypus of the Historical Costuming community, if you will.

**I have no idea what heinousness has been perpetrated on Blogger over my absence, but suddenly, it's practically impossible to get pictures centered (see most of above), and I have no control over that huge gap at the top. Weird. 

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Feel the Love. Do you feel it? How about now.

It's the National Valentine's Day after-party! Feel free to stock up on those unwanted heart-shaped chocolates and non-matching bra and panty sets at Target! While you're at it, remember to fight the siren-song of the hair dye aisle. She be a harsh mistress, the hair dye aisle. Yaarrrrgh.

As a chronic procrastinator, it's always tough wading back into a project. Keeping up with this blog is a powerful test of my primitive time-management skills, and one that I will undoubtedly fail again someday. Being a card-carrying, socially awkward internet exhibitionist, it's even more tough to share details about Real Life with an unknown audience. Therefor, my first order of business is to say "Thank You," to everyone who reached out to me after the last post. Your kind words really softened  the stress and sadness, and I have felt more like myself in the past few days.

Thank you all, from the bottom of my sardonic little heart. I am profoundly grateful.

Sewing News and Other Things That Relate To Having A Self-Described Historic Costuming Blog will come along soon, but in the meanwhile, enjoy this demonstration of my moral footprint on the world. I recently started paying attention to the "Keyword Search" tracker for my blog.

18th century leather stays

threadheaded snippet

clear vinyl underwear

homemade corset

18 century stays tutorial

1840's women's dresses

cunningtons sleeve

john wollaston paintings

nice huge ----

wtf sewing crafts

Needless to say, I am profoundly disturbed. Why did "clear vinyl underwear?" only bring in my third highest group of readers? We need to work on this people. Reach for the stars, I always say. Also, thank you unknown Google searchers, for thinking of me as you look for "wtf sewing crafts." I sincerely hope that you found what you came for. And in what sordid universe does "nice huge #&@%" bring anyone here? *

I blame the Bulgarians. (Hi, Bulgaria!!) Apparently, Bulgarians love me. I like to think that I reach an international audience, but the sad reality is probably that I have alienated most of the native English-speaking world.

And here we have another week's fine crop:

how short can an 18th century petticoat be

thread headed snippet

18th century stays

allegorical paintings 17th century

dummy boards

elizabeth keckley quilt

fitting a regency bodice

flannel wedgie

"Flannel wedgie." My good work here is done.

*After quite a lot of deliberation, I decided not to include the exact word used. Mainly because it's blatantly false advertising. I mean, they haven't even SEEN my #&@%.