lördag 1 juli 2017

Steampunk cage crinoline

I have finally summoned energy and inspiration at the same time, and managed to finish the first piece of my work-in-progress steampunk forest dress (which is also my first finished costuming piece this year). It is a crinoline, based on an 1850s/1860s cage crinoline. It is meant to be partly seen under the skirt of the dress it will be worn with. My idea was to have a marked contrast between a green and organic feeling of the dress, and a crinoline with a distinctly mechanical, metallic and man-made feeling. This is what I ended up with. It is decorated at the part where the skirt will be raised to show the crinoline.

The crinoline, here worn without any skirt.

I made the decoration pieces from craft foam, first glued together, then with some layers of wood glue (to seal the pores of the foam), and then finally several layers of paint. I also added some metal parts from my box of might-be-useful-some-day pearls, old electronics, and wires. For an impatient person like me, that was a lot of waiting for things to dry (also, glue is smelly)... When sewing, of course it can take some hours to pleat and sew on  a piece of decoration, but then at least I am doing something. Except for the waiting time however, it was very fun to work with foam! It is so easy to cut out, does not fray like fabric or warp in water like cardboard, and you can build three dimensional pieces by stacking flat pieces or gluing them together.
The decoration pieces, mostly made from craft foam

Of course I could not resist some gears on a steampunk garment - they are really tiny thou! And something mechanical from a watch.
The construction of the crinoline took some considering. Drafting it was quite easy, as I based the measurements on my 1860s hoop, but made it shorter and slightly wider at the top, to get a more pronounced skirt shape. Figuring out how to make it hold together was harder. Most crinolines I see made today either have the steel hoops coated in fabric and then sewed to the vertical bands, or is made of fabric with the steel hoops sewn in. I wanted the steel hoops to be seen, so covering them in fabric was not an option. I was not able to find a description of how to make it like I wanted, so I had to make something up myself. Making them stay in place vertically is easy, just make loops in the vertical bands and run the steel rings through, but how to prevent the vertical bands from sliding around the steel rings and the distorting the shape? I didn't trust glue to hold, so I ended up making using tape, see picture. Then I covered the bands with steel coloured fake leather, to get as much metallic look as possible while keeping it possible to flatten and store it.

Here, only one of the vertical bands are covered in silver false leather, and the hoops are not yet taped.

Here, the tape I used to prevent the steel hoops from sliding is visible, before they become covered by the silver false leather.

Next picture is a preview of what it might look like with the dress on.

Preview of how the crinoline will be worn with dress (which is not at all finished yet)
The dress is not nearly finished, but I show it to give some idea of the context where this crinoline will be worn. Now, I need just finish the dress, and the shoulder piece, and the attachable sleeves, and the hat, and some kind of harness for some leather bags I have to make or find, and preferably some matching jewellery. Suddenly, it does not feel so long to the beginning of September (when I hope to first wear this dress) anymore...

tisdag 3 januari 2017

Looking back at 2016 and forward at 2017

There is much to say about what happened in the world in 2016, but here I will keep away from that and just sum up my costuming year of  2016. As I had decided that I was more inspired by steampunk and cosplay than by historical, I did not take part in Historical Sew Monthly this year.

My first big project turned out to be historical. It was not at all planned, but some friends of my was so enthusiastic about the Natural form era that I could not resist it, and as usual, after looking at fashion plates I was sold. I landed in 1876. I had to do quite some work to figure out the skirt supports, as it was a new era for me. It also was a bit tricky as 1876 had a transition fashion between the bustle and the slim natural form. When I started at the actual dress, an injured toe at a vacation meant that all the hand finished trim was done a lot sooner (and in larger amounts) than expected.

After this very feminine dress, I went to menswear steampunk, inspired by English 1500's gowns and the BBC series Wolf Hall. Here is my steampunk Tudor crossover. I made the gown and hat, and decorated the bag.

I also made my first cosplay: a Star Trek Voyager uniform. I was not attempting to have every seam and fabric exactly as in the series, but I am happy with the overall look. As a big fan of Captain Janeway in Voyager, I have wanted a uniform like this for a long time! Here shown cross-nerding (yes, I do like to make up new words!) with a Doctor Who Tardis at NärCon in Linköping. (At which I felt a bit old - some of the participants was probably not even born when Star Trek Voyager was first aired...)

 Then, more steampunk: the ghost detection backpack. It was both challenging, scary and fun to work with hard materials and screws and glue instead of fabric and thread, but the box still has not collapsed, so I guess it worked out :-) I worked quite a lot on this leading up to the steampunk convention in Gothenburg in the beginning of November.


After the steampunk convention, I had a lot to do at work, so I was too tired to do any sewing at all. Now, I am slowly beginning to get my inspiration back. I have unusually few plans for next year thou. I will most likely be going to another steampunk convention, so I want something new to wear for then. I am currently planning a crinoline gown that is half forest fairy, half mechanical. We will see later how the turns out. I am currently in the phase when the gown is so amazing in my head that I am afraid to begin sewing and see it with the inevitable flaws of reality.
The not so amazing drawing of the forest mechanical gown, along with cryptic annotations in Swedish. And weird arms. I am not that good at drawing, but I think I draw arms even worse than the rest of it. 
 Except for the forest mechanical dress, I have no ideas at all. I should make myself like two or three historically inspired blouses for modern wear, as I never find anything I like in the stores, but that kind of sewing never seems to happen - there is always a more inspiring costume up ahead. Let's see what actually happens in 2017! 

Steampunk ghost detection box

To the steampunk convention, I wanted to try to make some "hardware", not only sewing. The result was this: my "ghost detection backpack". Here I will first show some making of, then the pictures of the result.
It was the first time for me making something that required drilling, super glue and paint instead of sewing and embroidery, so it was a both scary, difficult, and fun project. 

It took me quite a long time to decide how to arrange all the stuff in the box. This is what my hobby room floor looked like for a quite long time, as I was trying out how to place things and painting random stuff copper coloured...

The base is a wooden box, which I got help to make a big hole in the front in. Then I added lots of stuff. The "antennas" at the upper left outside of the box is candle holders turned upside down and fastened. The copper tube at the outside, going to the hand-held detector, is a shower hose painted copper. The box is lit up by a battery-powered LED decoration wire. Inside are small plastic boxes intended for keeping shampoo and such in when travelling. I did not want to use too many glass containers even if it had felt more steampunk, due to the not negligible risk of me dropping the whole thing and breaking glass. The are also some thin plastic tubes, some of them painted copper, and a copper-painted cardboard tube. (Some of the tubes are actually "borrowed" from my Lego Technic set, but don't tell any Lego fan I did that!)

On the front of the box I added two "gauges" I made, and some more small stuff I found, just to make it look a bit more busy. On the left outer side of the box is a sampling tube from my old chemistry box (thank you dad! :-)  ) protected by a handle.


The hose is going from the box to the hand held detector, here fastened at the shoulder while not in use. 

Detector and paranormal spectral magnification glass in action

The two antennas that pick up ectoplasmic emanations can clearly be seen in this picture.

The severe face that is proper for a skilled ectoplasmic residue detector workperson when on an assignment. 

And some close-ups:

Close-up of inside with lights off.

Left side, with antennas, sampling tube and its protection handle, and the holder for the detector on the backpack strap.

The detector at the end of its hose.

I am very happy with the result! It was fun to do something different than I usually do, and I like the outcome. Unfortunately, the paint is coming off on both the hose and the closing mechanism for the box, so I might have to re-paint it and then seal the paint somehow.

The facts:
What is it? A steam punk "ghost detection" backpack for an outfit.
Materials? Lots! 
Bought for this project: A wooden box for base. Shower hose, two candle holders, small clear plastic shampoo bottles, a handle bar, small wooden buttons, LED decoration wire for lightning, lots of copper paint,  a clock hand, a closing mechanism for the box. 

Things I already had: sample tubes, cork, guitar string, some small electronic components (coils of some kind I think), leather and fake leather and an old leather belt, cardboard, different sorts of metal wire, thin plastic tubes.

Pattern: None, but lots of inspiration from spending too much time looking at pictures at Pinterest.
Total cost: About 700 kr, 70 EUR, 75 USD for the stuff I bought.

Hours to complete? Maybe in the order of 30 h? Plus some hours thinking of it when I was supposed to do something else, and some hours searching for the materials.
First worn? At the SteamCon steampunk convention in Gothenburg in November 2016 (my blog post of that here).

lördag 3 december 2016

Tudor steampunk gown

After seeing BBC's  TV series Wolf Hall set in Tudor (16th century) England, I suddenly found myself needing an 16th century upper class gown. As I did not expect to have much use for historically correct 16th century men's clothing, I got the idea to combine it with pants and shirt with a 19th century feeling, and call it steampunk. I also wanted to push the boundaries of steampunk a bit - how much can one deviate from "standard" steampunk clothing and still have it clearly recognizable as steampunk? Most notably, I wanted to avoid all the gears (you'll see how well that went...), and the corset and looped up skirt in women's clothing (nothing wrong with that, I just felt like doing something entirely different).

In the end, this was the result. Pictures from Gothenburg SteamCon, thanks to Karin for patiently photographing me with my mobile phone camera!

As you can see, in the end I added some gears anyway, on the bag and the hat. After all, I do like gears even if I think there can be too much of them, and I thought the costume needed a clear "this is steampunk" marker.

The bag has added pieces made of painted leather, and some "random shiny stuff" glued on.

I am only partly satisfied with the result. I liked a lot to wear this outfit, but as a garment, I feel that there is some work left to do on the gown. I used the pattern from The Tudor Tailor book, so I had to resize it from "standard men size" to "me size". I thought that would be very simple, as this is not exactly a fitted garment, but it was lot harder than expected. First I scaled it down before drawing the pattern, and then I made a test garment, but I still had to make the actual garment smaller as well. Especially the sleeves turned out way too big  - as large as my waist! Ridiculous. Shrinking them meant making the arm holes smaller on a almost finished garment, and then the over sleeves turned out too small instead, and... let's just say it took a while longer than expected, and the gown still does not hang really well. Also, I did not understand all the directions for sewing it that the The Tudor Tailor provided, so I had to make up as I went instead of just following directions.

From the pictures, it is clear that I need to make the sleeves shorter, and add some boning to the over (puff) sleeves to give them more puff and less hanging sadly.

I had been thinking that it would be nice to have something like a chain of office to wear with this, but I had not been able to find anything I liked, or any idea on what I wanted to make. In the Bazar at Gothenburg SteamCon, I was talking to Lykke Banck who has the shop Lucky Gears, and she offered to make one for me. She even finished it the same morning, so I could wear it at the convention! It might not be obvious from the picture (this picture is taken at the very end of the convention so I am quite tired at the time) but I am very happy with how the costume looked with the chain added! I just needed to fix it to the coat somehow, as it kept sliding off. 

Tired picture of gown with chain of office
Close up on my dress form.

The facts:
What is it? A steam punk outfit inspired by 16th century upper class men's clothing and 19th century men's clothing.

The pieces: Hat and gown made by me. Trousers bought from a second hand store. Shirt is a standard shirt, modified so that a bought collar could be attached instead. A black tie from husband's wardrobe. Bag is bought but heavily decorated by me. A clock chain used to hold gown together, and a cravat tie, both likely antique, that I got as gifts. Black modern men's shoes ("Olof, doesn't you need new shoes? I can take care of your old ones."). A medal.

Fabric of gown? Brown velvet from IKEA. Red polyester brocade, previously bought to be a women's 16th century dress. Red cotton for some parts of the lining.

Pattern: Hat and gown from the book The Tudor Tailor. 
Total cost: maybe 250 kr for the velvet, 50 kr for lining, and 200kr for the brocade. 170 kr for gears for the hat and bag. Total something like 670 kr, 67 EUR, 67 $. Also 300 kr for custom made chain of office.

Hours to complete? No idea. A lot longer than I thought, and so long that I was very tired of it in the end.
First worn? At the SteamCon steampunk convention in Gothenburg in November (my blog post of that here).

måndag 7 november 2016

Steampunk persona: Leonidas Tengbom, book collector

I was going to write about one of my new gowns, but something else came out, so instead in this post the Costuming Engineer proudly presents to you Leonidas Ylvar Tengbom, distinguished book collector and conservative steampunk gentleperson!

(I will use "ze" and "hir” as gender neutral pronouns.)

Leonidas Tengblom at the recent bazar in Göteborg, a bit tired after a day of searching for new book treasures.

Leonidas Tengbom lives in a large house in the part of Sweden that is called Bergslagen, where ze lives with hir husband and a pet squirrel called Flogiston (but ze would never admit how fond ze is of the pet - "It just happened to move in when I happened to feed it! I cannot help that Flogi prefer to sit on the armrest of my favourite armchair!") At home, ze prefers to spend most of hir time in hir library, researching odd historical topics or conserving old and fragile books, or taking long walks around the small lakes with hir husband. Hir favourite season is the autumn, and if there had been any people taking walks at the same paths as ze does, they would have seen hir stop frequently to enjoy the smell of moss, fallen leaves or a fir tree in the sun.

As the chairperson of the International Society for the Keeping of Old and Dusty Books, Leonidas Tengbom often get to travel, in search of book or for conferences and work groups. This ze does under much mumbling and grumbling, and always claiming that airships and zeppelins should be avoided (modern contraptions, cannot be trusted! and the steam submarines are even worse!) but for some reasons, ze often ends up with using them anyway, as they after all are a decent bit more comfortable than carriages. At the numerous meetings for other book collectors, keepers and researchers, ze transforms from the quiet reader to the outspoken and social chairperson and researcher for a few days, before going back home to enjoy the quite days at the countryside again.

Recent findings - notebooks from the Köping alchemy group
And finally - a word of advice. If you meet hir, do not ask about hir latest research project unless you are willing to spend quite a while listening! "Oh, currently I am researching the alchemical group that formed around Carl Willhelm Scheele in Köping a few years befor his death! How nice of you to ask! Not many people know that he became active in an alchemical group when he moved to Köping. With his brilliant mind, he soon become an important member, and the group seemed to make progress, but not for long. After a while he and the rest of the group split, over an heated argument about the moral of some of their experimental methods. That is why the group is not known today - without Scheele, the group did not make much progress. Scheele would not let the group publish the findings he had made with them. But, you know, he must have forgiven at least one of the members, because at his death bed, he married the group member Sara Pohl, in order for her to inherit his pharmacy. It seems he wanted her to be able to continue her alchemical work after all! I first found this mentioned in this book that I found when I ... "

Steampunk convention

As I write this, I am on my way home from SteamCon in Gothenburg. It has been three very very nice days, and now I am happy and tired and a little bit sad that I have to go back to reality. (I know, I English was my first language, or just if I was less tired, I should be able to come up with some more varied and precise adjectives. As it is, I will just write lots of "nice" and "amazing" in this post, so now you are duly warned!) 
I found a "box backpack" friend! So here you get a sneak peek of my ghost detection box. Also, look at her amazing haircut! Almost make me want to cut off my hair too.

The convention had a number of different workshops and discussions/lectures. I have made false metal mini book covers, a small chemical "volcano", and hair jewellery. But what I liked most was to talk to all nice (I warned you!) and interesting people. One day, I and my friend Karin just grabbed some random people who looked nice and asked if they wanted to have "fika"  (coffee and sweets) with us. They said yes, and I greatly enjoyed our discussions (for example, why is there so much brown and orange in steampunk? And are there sub-sub-cultures in English steampunk?). Steampunks are so nice and generous people! And it is fun that there is a nice mix of ages.

Of course, it was also very fun to look at people's clothing and accessories. So many different takes on steampunk! And as I am embarrassingly fond of being photographed in my steampunk and historical garb, I also greatly enjoyed wearing both my two new outfits ("the ghost detection box" and the "conservative steampunk gentleperson goes 16th century"), and my old favourite, the 1886 uniform dress. I will post about those later.

Here comes pictures of some of all the nice looking people I met. Of course, I forgot to take many of the pictures I wanted, so this is just a small selection.

My friend Karin as the mechanic, showing a fellow mechanic some intricate detail of the adjustable wrench (skiftnyckel in Swedish). Karin won first price in "best composition" costume contest category - congratulations, well earned!

There were a number of well clad gentlemen.

Marianne, in her archaeologist persona, looking great both in day wear and evening wear.

These two won first price in the craftmanship category of the costume competition. They had amazing level of detail, especially on the weapons. Hard to see in this picture, but his arrow tip is a flask of green liquid, with light in it!

This was all photos I remembered to take. Next posts will also be steampunk - they will be on my ghost detector box, and about my 16th/19th century cross over outfit.

torsdag 20 oktober 2016

1876 dress photo session

I May, I posted about my 1876 afternoon dress. Since then, I have made a hat to wear with it, and made another photo shot. Since I am so happy about how the pictures turned out, here they are - the 1876 dress, now decently worn with hat and gloves! The pictures are taken at Lambohovs Säteri, just a kilometre from were I live.

I also got some less dignified pictures - this is what it looks like when you bike to the location (wearing chemise and corset under normal trousers and jacket, and a flimsy hat instead of a biking helmet) and then dress on the spot... :-)
"How do I put on this mess of a skirt?"

"Without dignity! Probably shouldn't have put the hat on first..."

As always, thanks to Olof for photographing!