Thursday, June 30, 2011

A Rose By Any Other Called Ribbon

One more jump back in time: late February, 2011. I decided I wanted to learn to make ribbon flowers. After a little experimenting, I grabbed some 3" wide double-sided ribbon and made these:

The wider the ribbon, the bigger the flower! These monsters measure about 8" across. That's my hand in the second photo, to give you an idea of just how large these are.

I bought this ribbon while in China last year, to decorate a 1900s Edwardian wireframe hat. More on that, soon....

Let's call it a 1920's Ribbon Handbag

Jumping back in time again, to the beginning of March 2011: I found a really cute vintage handbag on The seller said it was from the 1920s, so I'm just going with that.

It sold while I was waffling over buying it.

Hmph, well I WANTS, it. I have a ton of 1 and 1/2" wide, blue double-sided satin ribbon leftover from another project. I paired it with white double-sided ribbon, and made this:


My version is taller than the original (I like to have plenty of room for my crap). The base of the original looks egg-shaped to me, but mine is just an oval.

The ribbons in the original were probably stitched together by hand. I used a stitch on my machine that resembles a feather or fern stitch:

Now, dummy me used a tearaway stabilizer for this; tearing the stabilizer out caused the stitches to distort! Lesson learned: I could've used a washaway stabilizer. It's poly ribbon. IT CAN GET WET.

P.S. this last photo also shows that I completely flubbed making french knots. Sheesh.

1886 Hat and Handbag

I'm going to start by hopping around a bit, chronologically speaking, working backwards through projects I've completed recently before going forwards with stuff I'm working on now. First up is a hat and matching handbag from 1886, completed in May, 2011.

I have a summer gown for 1886, completed in 2008. I've always wanted an "upside down flower pot" style hat for this outfit. It is now 2011 and I still didn't have a hat. So, I commission my friend (and I like to say, mentor) Lynn McMasters to make me a hat. I sent her some purple flowers that I had bought 2 years ago for this hat, and this illustration from Godey's Lady's book; it's from the 1880s, but I don't have an exact date:

Godey's Lady's Book, 1880s
and this is the result:

Lynn custom blocked the crown separate from the brim, then attached them to each other. She then applied straw that was woven into points. All I have to say is: SQUEEEEEEE!!! It's perfect. :)

When Lynn gave me the hat, she also gave me extra pieces of the purple sateen. I figured there was enough to make a simple handbag, which is something else this outfit really needed. And, of course, I'm never able to leave well enough alone, so I covered it with a purchased machine embroidery pattern:

It's lined with purple linen left over from the gown's underskirt. The tassels and cord I already had from an earlier, aborted attempt to making a handbag like this. The bottom edge is wired, so that it maintains the triangular shape.

Projects rarely ever (some would say never) go together exactly like you want. Every project teaches me something, how to do something right, or how to not do something again. This handbag, made in a mad rush over just a few hours, definitely taught me a few things. So, here's my first installment of "lessons learned:"

What worked:

Hmmm...well, it holds all my stuff.

What didn't work (so well):

1. It's BIG. It's more like a small workbag than a handbag.

2. For fabric I had only two corners with a long diagonal cut, and two wide bias strips. I decided the corners by themselves wouldn't make a big enough bag (see bullet #1), so pieced the bias strips to the diagonal cut...but only after I embroidered the bias strips. Lesson learned: the embroidery might have gone maybe slightly better if I had pieced before doing the embroidery.

The bias strips were too narrow for any embroidery hoop I have, so I used a Magna Hoop (which I've had for years, and this was the first time I've used it). The hoop did a decent job hold down the ends of the strip, but the fabric still pulled above and below the flowers, where the hoop wasn't really holding it. The side I call the "front" looked ok after a good pressing, but on the side I call the "back" some of the colors misaligned. Lesson learned: I probably would've gotten better results if I had basted the fabric to the stabilizer.

OH WELL. The bag is done, and does it's job just fine.

At GBACG's "Renoir's Boating Picnic", 11 June 2011

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Why am I talking to you?

It has been said that I dislike blogs. That's not really true. I really enjoy seeing what my fellow costumers are up to, and I learn so much from them. The truth is, I simply don't have time to read all the blogs out there. But I do pop in and look at pictures. :)

So why have I now decided to join the blogosphere? On the one hand, we spend a great deal of time and effort on our work, and how sad is it to not share the troubles and the triumphs. On the other hand, I'm convinced that costuming is not meant to be done in isolation; after all, playing dress up by oneself is dull.

And what will I be talking about? Primarily I won't be talking very much, I'll be posting pictures (with short descriptions) of my costuming projects. I'll occasionally talk about what my friends are up to; I have beautiful and talented friends, and can't resist bragging about them! I might occasionally talk about non-costuming craft projects and doll art. I might even, once in a while, post an instructional article.

But I won't be talking about any cats.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Idle Hands

If "idle hands are the devil's workshop," you'd think I'd be pretty safe, since my hands are never idle...yet I get myself into trouble all the time!

I am Claudine de Montigny and this is my blog, wherein I hope to entertain, inform, and occasionally promote the results of my never idle hands.

Life is why sit still?