Wednesday, June 8, 2011

And Now For Something COMPLETELY Different...

HTB and I are going camping at Calico Ghost Town this weekend. It's sort of an annual trip, but this year we will also be taking our engagement photos while we're out there. In addition to taking the normal looking photos in nice every day clothing, we decided that we also wanted to do a part of our shoot dressed up in Western/Victorian gear because, well, we're crazy like that, and we like to wear costumes. HTB has western garb a plenty - he works at Knott's Berry Farm as a train bandit - however I only have a saloon girl costume I put together for my 25th birthday. The problem with that is that I've gained some weight since then, and the Frederick's corset doesn't really fit anymore. I'm sure I could make it fit, but it has plastic boning. Plastic boning has this habit of bending and twisting really easily, so it doesn't do much in the way of the support department, and if it's very hot out, and if you're a warm blooded person like me, it'll melt and conform to your body shape instead of sucking it in. One of these days I'll replace the boning with good steel stuff, but I just don't have the resources and time at the moment.

So how to fix this problem with only a few days till the camping trip turned photo shoot? Well, instead of the Fredericks corset, I have decided to wear one of my other corsets - a solid black underbust with proper steel boning. But since it's an underbust it doesn't really cover up the girls, y'know, and we can't really have them hanging out for the photo shoot (even if HTB would LOVE that) Since my first love is sewing, and I make a lot of my own garb for Renaissance Faire, I have tons of fabric and patterns floating about. One of the many patterns I have is a historical pattern from Simplicity for civil war era underpinnings (pattern number 7215).

I don't really like how the corset looks in the pattern, and, again, I don't have the time or the resources to make a corset from scratch, but the chemise would definitely look good in addition to the underbust corset, skirt, and bustle I already have.

On Monday I pulled out some thin white fabric that I had and went to work cutting out the pattern and then the pieces that I needed. Connor and Murphy, our two cats, thought this was tons of fun and proceeded to attack the fabric, the pattern, and the pin cushion while I worked. Eventually I locked them up in the downstairs bathroom with some toys once Murphy got a little too close to the scissors while I was using them.

Last night (Tuesday) I started sewing everything together. Because the boys had been causing problems while I was trying to cut things out, I had forgotten to mark things like dots and tabs, so I had to go back and do all of that. First up was to attach the gussets to the shoulders. Even though I hate gussets, that proved to be relatively painless.

(I swear there are gussets there. I suspect Murphy is laying on one of them)

Then it was time to sew gores to the sides of the front and back pieces. That's where I screwed up. Apparently I marked the dots wrong, so one gore was much higher than the other. Thank God for seam rippers. I fixed that then sewed the front and back together, and then I started work on the sleeves. Somehow I managed to sew the gussets for the sleeves on wrong, so I had to take a seam ripper to those.

(The sleeves, with their gussets and flat felled seams)

By the time I finished with the sleeves I decided that it was too late to sew anything else. A friend gave me some advice once that if you sew when you're tired you're bound to make more mistakes, and then get frustrated when you have to go back and fix those mistakes, so it's just better to quit when you're ahead. I decided to head her advice.

Tonight I get to gather the sleeves, attach them to the body of the chemise, gather the front and back of the chemise and then sew on the yoke. I know it sounds like a lot, but, barring any kitty interruptions, I should be finished by Thursday. However, since I'll be out of town on Friday, I won't be able to post the finished object until next week :P

Oh, and the Harry Potter Scarves are coming along too:

That, in the middle there, is the stitch marker that the lovely Contessa made me. She has a give away going on for a custom set right now - you can enter here.


  1. jskdlfjs So envious of (a) your being in possession of a proper steel-boned corset, I totally yearn for one and (b) your costume-sewing ability! Sorry about all the seam-ripping, though, yikes. "Don't sew when you're tired" is also excellent advice---my mom told me her the night it was really late and I sewed through my finger with the sewing machine tale like a ghost story when I was a kid, so I'm glad you quit while you were ahead!

    I hope you have an amazing camping trip/engagement photoshoot. :D

  2. There's a company called Timeless Trends that sells steel boned corsets for pretty cheap. Their underbusts are $100 and the overbusts are $150. I have two of their underbusts and I LOVE them. Someday I want to make my own corset though...

    *blush* thank you for the compliment on the sewing. My Mom taught me how to do a skirt and I've just figured the rest out from there. I have yet to sew through my finger, but the cats are so curious about the sewing machine that I'm afraid one of them will get hurt, or get tangled up in the thread.

  3. That is so cool that you make your own costumes. I hope that you post a picture of the whole western ensemble when your done.

  4. I can't wait to see the finished outfit! I love how helpful animals are to Sewing is just one thing that I've never been able to do. I made a Harry Potter scarf awhile ago. I don't use it very often, because it took so long to make that I don't want to mess it

  5. I've done a great many things when I was too tired which I later had to redo -- so I definitely agree with the advice you've been given.
    I can't wait to see your engagement photos! I think what you two are doing is such a cute idea. (Wish we'd done that. . . well, any engagement photos, actually.) :p

    I'm so glad to see you're enjoying the stitch markers!!!!!!!!! I didn't expect to see them again so soon! ♥

  6. Sounds fun, interesting and very differnt. Ghost town...hum

  7. How exciting! Last time we drove to Vegas, on the way back we finally stopped at Calico. I'd been wanting to visit since I was little and finally got the chance. Very awesome! How's the camping in that area? Can't wait to see your costume and pics! I hope you share with us.

  8. @autumngeisha - I plan to! That will probably be my FO for next Friday :D

  9. @wrchili Yeah, the boys always like to be in the middle of things. Come to think of it, my old cat used to do the same thing too. Whenever I had school work that I needed to do she would sit on the dinning room table and watch me - and usually she would sit in the middle of the book I needed to use :P

  10. @wypad Thank you! We wanted to be different, and this is definitely different - and yet so us at the same time. Though maybe we should have taken the pictures at the Renaissance Faire since that's where HTB proposed.

    And as for the stitch markers... well I told you I was going to use them when I picked them up! lol

  11. @Sandy - Thank you! It definitely is different, but it's also very us. HTB and I love visiting ghost towns like Calico and Bodie (which is up near Yosemite) And I've already started planning to go and visit Virginia City next year :D

  12. @Tami Klockau The camping is very interesting. When you pull into Calico, there's a road that branches off to the right - that's where all the campgrounds are. They accomodate both tents and RVs.

    There's only two problems with camping out there; we like to stay in the very last campground area which is a bit of a wind funnel so we have had to tie our tent to our car once or twice to keep it from 1) flying away and 2) eating us. There's also rumors that the area is haunted, and I'm inclined to believe it because there have been times when we've heard people walking around our tent, but when we look out there is no one there and no wind that could be making that noise either.

    Other than that it's usually a really fun time! I would recommend only staying out there in the spring or late fall though, since it can get up into the hundreds during July and August.