Friday, April 23, 2010

Project: Sherbet Striped English Dress - Change of Plan

I was ready to start making the buttonholes to lace the back when I had a sudden doubt. Was lacing accurate for an 18th century dress? I know it wasn't exactly common, but I had this vague idea that I had seen one, perhaps in a movie… All I found in my recent research were child’s dresses. So…

I decided to change the closure. I sewed the back close and cut the front open in order too use hook & eye tape as closure. I tried on the dress before I cut and I have just enough give for it to work.

This also means that trim placement will be changing. I want to add more, both on the stomacher and on the skirt.

Sherbet Striped English Dress - Line Drawing

It’s going to look awesome! And yes, it will be done in time, even if I have to forgo sleep!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Project: Sherbet Striped English Dress – Dress and Skirt Assembled

I worked on my dress over the week-end. Up to now, everything is assembled: the bodice, the sleeves, the dress’ skirt and the skirt.

Sherbet Striped English Dress - Assembled Bodice

Sherbet Striped English Dress - Assembled Bodice & Skirt

Here is a close-up the all the pleating that had to be done to the skirt panel.

Sherbet Striped English Dress - Skirt Construction

For the flounces, I bought some lace from the sale section. Based on the measurements given in Janet Arnold’s Patterns of Fashion 1: Englishwomen's Dresses and their Construction, c. 1660-1860, I cut my pieces, being careful to go around the design. Then, I decides they were too white for my dress fabric, so I aged them by first giving them a tea bath, then rinsing the tea out, followed by a trip to the dryer to fix the colour and finally, a good pressing with a hot iron.

Sherbet Striped English Dress - Flounce before and after Aging

I know it is tough to tell from the picture, but personally, I think the effect is awesome.

So now, all that is left for me to do is do the button holes to lace the dress close in the back, hem everything and add the trim. Oh yeah, and make the tricorne. So yes, I still have a lot of work to do to be ready for the Photo Shoot with
Nancy-Raven on Saturday. Let’s hope it is nice and sunny!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Movie Monday: Curse of the Golden Flower

I’m not generally a fan of foreign films, but many Chinese and Japanese historical dramas have made it to my DVD collection. The costumes are simply incredible. Recently, I watched Curse of the Golden Flower (2006). It was truly like watching moving art: not only for the costumes, but also the set design and cinematography. It is gorgeous! The story is set during Later Shu of the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period, in the year 928 C.E. and tells of the turmoil that grows underneath calm the façade presented to the world by the Imperial Family, and of a rebellion…

As with many historical movies, there were many inconsistencies (which Directors like to call Creative Licences, but really, when you have documentation, you don’t need to take creative licences!). First, the metal nail extensions worn by the Empress Phoenix (Li Gong) became popular 600 years after the time the story is set in. Also, the plate armour worn by the men was never popular in China; they preferred scale armour, coat of plates or lamellar armour. The architecture is reminiscent of the Ming Dynasty’s Forbidden City. Finally, I have doubts about the women’s cleavage showing so much, but maybe that is just me.

Now let’s look at a few of these incredible costumes, shall we?

Curse of the Golden Flower (2006)

Junjie Qin as Prince Yu and Li Gong as the Empress Phoenix, Curse of the Golden Flower (2006)

Li Gong as the Empress Phoenix, Curse of the Golden Flower (2006)

Yun-Fat Chow as Emperor Ping, Curse of the Golden Flower (2006)

Jay Chou as Prince Jai, Li Gong as the Empress Phoenix and Yun-Fat Chow as Emperor Ping, Curse of the Golden Flower (2006)

And just to compare, here in a painting from roughly the same time period; it is from the Tang Dynasty, but two centuries before the time when the movie is set.

Beauties Wearing Flowers, by Zhou Fang, 8th century

I guess it’s just like with Western Medieval movies: they always feel the need to make the costumes more pleasant to the modern eye. But still, these costumes are amazing.

Costumes for this movie were designed by Chung Man Yee, which got him an Oscar nomination for Best Achievement in Costume Design.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

My new toy: The Ruffler Foot

I got myself a new toy: a ruffler foot for my sewing machine (it also does gathers). You see, when planning my Sherbet Striped English Gown, I decided I wanted a ruffled trim instead of a gathered one. Besides, I’ve been looking for an excuse to get more specialized equipment for sewing and costuming.

Here is what the ruffled trim looks like:

Ruffled trim for Sherbet Striped English Gown

I used 24 mm wide gros grain ribbon in purple and 12 mm gros grain in green. I had to sew them together before ruffling them because, it didn’t stay straight otherwise. The result is a ruffled stripped trim to match the dress fabric.

By the way, if you are interested in getting specialty feet for your sewing machine, I suggest you shop around. Originally, I had gone to a local Singer store (the one situated in
Centre Laval), hoping to get the actual Singer part, but I they had the worst customer service I have ever seen. When I entered the store, an oldish (I wouldn’t dare to guess her age – I’m usually not that great at guessing people’s age), overweight woman (I'm being descriptive, not judgemental) was sitting in front of the counter, texting. When she realised I wasn’t leaving, after about 3 seconds, she sighed, straitened up, and ask in an annoyed tone if she could help me. I happily explained I wanted a ruffler foot. “Ruffler? Ruffler! What the heck is that” she barked. She then rose with difficulty, limped to the back of the counter, grabbed a ruffler foot from a display on the wall and threw it on the counter. “Is that it?”. I looked at it for a minute: it wasn’t a Singer brand, and the price was 45.99$ CAD (with Québec taxes, it would have cost me 51.91$ CAD). I guess I stared at it too long, because the lady said “Well are you going to take it?”, to which I answered politely that I was going to keep on shopping because I had seen some for much less. On this she concluded “Huh! Good luck!”.

I got mine for 20.75$ CAD, shipping included. The eBay store I bought it from, Gone Sewing Company, is well organized and I easily found what type would fit on my machine (thanks to good illustrations and exhaustive Model number lists). I received my part within 10 days, which is also quite decent. If you want to buy sewing machine parts of specialty feet, I recommend that seller.

As for the Singer store lady… well I have nothing polite to say, so I’ll leave it at that.