Saturday, September 17, 2011


Inspired by all the wonderful TARDIS dresses and coats I have found while preparing for last Saturday’s post, here is my own plan for a TARDIS costume: the TARDIS Kimono! (You know you should have seen it coming, right?)

TARDIS vs TARDIS Kimono Concept

Kimono being geometrical in design, it seems simply perfect for the windows and boxes of the TARDIS’ exterior. The “Police box” sign normally at the top would go on the neckband.

Front & Back TARDIS Kimono Concept

And what about the white sign next to the TARDIS’ door? It will go on the Obi of course!

The Obiage and Obi-jime would be gold or yellow, because I like the contrast with the blue, and also to represent the door handle’s brass colour.

TARDIS Obi Concept

The light at the top of the TARDIS I imagine as a Kanzashi, made of silk petals and pinned to my hair.

Now as to how to make my vision come true: ideally I would like to do proper silk painting, with resist and everything. As a next best option, quilting is also something I could to, although it would require a lot of pattern preparation. If I am really lazy, I will just use fabric paint. We shall see! For now, I have nowhere to wear it to, so there is no rush to make it.

Of course, to be a Doctor’s wife (i.e. the TARDIS), I could also make an Irish dancing dress along the theme. Now what would that look like?

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Viking Apron Dress and Tunic for Nancy-Raven

For those of you who also follow me on Facebook, you may remember that in late June / early July, I was working on a Viking Apron dress and a Tunic for Nancy-Raven’s birthday (for the rest of you, what are you waiting for to Like me? Just teasing). Because she is pregnant, she did not feel well enough to party at the time (ah, the first trimester and its lovely all day morning sickness), so it was over a month after her birthday that I finally gave her her present and by then, I was so busy with Otakuthon I did not find the time to post anything about it. But since she wore it recently to Les Médiévales internationales de Lachute (formerly La Fête Médiévale de Saint-Colomban), I figured it was more than time I display my work here.

(P.S. I was unable to attend the Fêtes Médiévales this year so I will not be able to do my yearly review of bad LARP garb. I hope you are not too disapointed and you understand and forgive me.)

A Viking apron dress is actually quite easy to make. Just like most of the clothing of that time period, it is constructed from very geometric pieces. Once you know how to assemble them, all you have left to do is hems and you are done. I used the instructions and pattern from
Vigdís' Viking Apron Dress page.

Vigdís' Viking Apron Dress Pattern

Vigdís' Viking Apron Dress assembling diagram

One of the numerous great things about Nancy-Raven and I is that we wear the same size everything, from every layer of clothing down to shoes. So to make her a costume that will fit her perfectly, I only need to measure myself! To compensate for her current bust enhancement, I took that measurement wearing a bra that fit me perfectly at the time I was still breastfeeding. I made the bodice just a little shorter to ensure her baby belly would fit comfortably, and a little tight around so it will still fit after her son is born. This way, she can wear it for years to come.

Nancy-Raven's Viking Apron dress and Tunic

The fabric I used is heavy gabardine in a dark navy colour. To tell you the truth, I was aiming for black, knowing Nancy-Raven’s taste for the colour, but this is the darkest I could find.

Nancy-Raven's Viking Apron dress and Tunic - Close-up

For the tunic, I used the same T-Tunic pattern that I always use. (One day I have to make a tutorial for it.)

Basic T-Tunic Sketch

Usually, I like to make the gores on my t-tunic about waist height, but the truth is, in period only men wore their tunics tailored this way. Women, who were often pregnant, as is their biological role in the survival of the race, wore tunics with gores that came up to the bust level, leaving ample room for growing bellies. Regular tunics and maternity ones were one and the same; only the position of the belt changed. Following this principle, I made Nancy-Raven’s tunic with bust level front and back gores. As the fabric seemed a bit fragile at the top of the gore, I added a rectangular patch to solidify the junction, not unlike the ones found on extant clothing of the time.

Nancy-Raven's T-Tunic

Since I was going to use trim to decorate the neckline, I finished it with bias tape instead of a facing the way I usually do.

The fabric I used for the tunic is light linen in deep blue sky colour. I washed and dried it before cutting it to shrink it, which also made it incredibly soft.

Nancy-Raven's T-Tunic - Close-up

The trims were both hand woven by yours truly using my lovely tablet weaving loom bought in Pennsic back in 2007 (Lady Jeanne, please remind me once more from whom?), some tablet weaving cards I made from an old pack of playing cards and size 10, mercerised cotton crochet thread. The patterns I used are by Eqos on DeviantArt.

Tablet Weaving patterns by Eqos

I used Andred which is a 25 cards pattern for the apron dress’ trim and Melynai which is a 14 cards pattern for the tunic's trim. I choose colours that would come alive on the fabric from the assortment of thread spools I already had.

My Card or Tablet Weaving loom set up for the dress' trim

I made the apron dress’ trim first. Because the pattern was quite complicated to set up on the loom, it took me a whole evening to do so. The next day, when I began to weave, I realized I had made mistakes in the set-up, so I had to take everything apart and begin anew. After the second set-up, I was good to go and it took me about three evenings to complete the trim.

Viking Apron dress' trim on dress' fabric

The second trim was easier and also took but a few evenings to complete. All in all, I would say it took me maybe 10 days to make both trims.

Tunic's trim on dress' fabric

A Viking apron dress as two shoulder straps that are attached to the front with what are called Turtle brooches. I already owned a pair from Fettered Cock Pewters and they are really lovely and relatively inexpensive, so I ordered a set for Nancy-Raven as well.

Viking Turtle Brooches by Fettered Cock Pewters

I am no Viking garb expert, but from what I have seen, a necklace of beads hangs between the brooches. Using mismatched pottery and glass beads (from the craft section of my local Dollar store), and modern jewelry tools (nylon thread, metal rings), I made this piece of jewellery to complete the ensemble. Of course, the first on broke as I was trying to take pictures (crimping beads are apparently not that solid), and I am still finding beads all over my sewing room’s floor, but the second I made better, with two strands of beads (instead of one), knots and crazy glue.

Nancy-Raven posted a picture on her blog (Nancy-Raven's attic) of herself wearing her present at Les Médiévales internationales de Lachute (as well as pictures from the event, and I am sorry to have missed it - see them at The international medieval festival).

Nancy-Raven in her custom made Viking outfit, complete with black low top Medieval Mocassins and self made headwear

Doesn’t she look lovely? I always think so anyways.

Now you know what comes next don’t you? I want one too! Yep, the next Viking apron dress is for mig.