Monday, March 26, 2012

The Mystery Fabric, Henceforth Known as PeachXsplosion

A little bit about the Mystery Fabric--guess what it's for here to win!

So--two yards of white silk, a little tub of salmon dye, and me.

We did what we were supposed to do, the three of us--we got our dye going and we did testers. And we followed the instructions quite to the T.

And then something terrible happened, which I can't explain.

My salmon dye, tried and tested, dyed my silk traffic-cone orange.

This was quite distressing. I was aiming for a pink, peach, salmon, heck--even calomine colored final product. Anything in that range would have made me happy. And then I saw the fabric inching closer and closer in the dye pot toward something that I would make a safety vest out of.

I pulled the plug. That is to say, I pulled the fabric from the pot and just started rinsing. And rinsing. And rinsing some more. Fortunately, as the dye hadn't steeped for too long yet, it wasn't completely set, and quite a bit came out.


And then I washed it, and more color came out.

Phew again.

And then when it dried, it came out a light, unassuming peach.

Giant sigh of relief.

After all the rinsing and washing, it looks about like this, except a touch warmer and less pink (no photos yet, but this is the thread color I'm using swiped from the webbernets(:

And it's not really a hint, but I will say--the peachy pink is perfect for the project I have in mind for this fabric!

Contest open until 3-28 here--just wager a guess what this fabric is for, and be entered to win prizes!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Green Linen Stays: Finished!

Don't forget to enter the Guess the Fabric Contest!

It's a very green evening here in Indiana, with the day's last evening sunshine following a deluge of rain and hail. Ever notice how much greener everything looks after a storm? Seems a perfect time to unveil the completed green linen stays!

The basics: Based on Norah Waugh's 1780s stays with some help from Butterick B4254 in getting a pattern together.

Materials: Two layers of cotton canvas-ish weight fabric inside, with green linen outside. Green cotton thread. Boning is cable ties. Metal eyelets covered in embroidery floss. Gold silk ribbon (will be replaced on back lacing with proper lacing materials, but this was pretty for a photo shoot!).

The things I did 18th century style:

The pattern is based on an extant (or multiple extants, but I can trace this one pretty precisely to one in the V&A museum). The construction was 18th century to the best of my limited knowledge, with each piece constructed and boned and then joined together.

The entire piece is bound with self-fabric, which you do find in extants, but the really 18th century thing about that choice was that I used a large fabric scrap for this project and was left with, no joke, a piece of fabric the size of two postage stamps. Waste not, want not.

Spiral back lacing--the 18th century way.

Things I did not do 18th century? No, these are not hand-sewn. I hand sew plenty of items, but stays channels by hand...well, not this time. Also, metal eyelets and cable ties were used. For the first time, I used metal eyelets and covered them with fabric-colored emroidery floss. This made the eyelet creation go more quickly and produced very even and uniform eyelets, which makes me happy. But even more important, they'll hold up for longer without repairs, which, since these aren't for me, is important--the recipient won't want to do eyelet touch-ups like she would need to do with my amateurish hand-done ones!

My favorite part of this style of stays is adding a cute little bow to the front of the strap tabs.

My other unauthentic move was using plastic cable ties. The best bet for authentic boning material, since coming by baleen is a little tricky, is reed boning, but...I confess. I didn't wanna. I don't particularly like how it ends up sort of three dimensional and sometimes knobbly-looking, for lack of a better word, and everyone I know who's used it says it's kind of a pain.

Cable ties are not a pain. They are awesome and a half. Cutting them to size? Easy. Just a little sanding on the edges to buff down the cut jagged bits. The flexibility to sturdiness ratio is perfect--unlike metal, they conform to the body, and unlike flimsy modern featherweight boning, they hold their shape. So I'm rather sold--unless I want to try whaling, I'll stick with cable ties.

Detail of eyelets--it may have been cheating, but seeing those perfect, uniform eyelets makes me happy.

My favorite angle on the stays--the part where the side piece joins the front, really the spot where the fashionable shape of the body is created.

What's next? Well, check out the Contest! post for your chance to win prizes while you guess my next move!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Contest! Guess What the Fabric is For and Win a Prize!

I feel like having a bit of fun today and playing a game--must be the onset of spring.

I received:
  • 2 yards of plain white silk, 45" width
  • 1 packet salmon dye
  • But what is it going to become? That's your challenge, friends--and anyone who hazards a guess is entered in a giveaway to win:

    A tube of my favorite beauty product, Burt's Bees tinted lip balm in Rose (perfect for ever-so-historical pouts and modern looks, as well).
    A randomly selected, lightly read historical fiction title from my library (requests welcome).


    • I will be using additional materials already in my stash--possiblities include notions, additional fabric, trims, etc.
    • I may or may not have discussed this project before--that is, it could be in a "hopes and dreams" post somewhere, or it might be an utterly new invention.
    • And the big hint: This project marks a major departure for me, but I shan't say if it's in terms of time period, persona portrayed, style choices, or something else. I will say--think outside the box! And--this if you guess the departure's nature, you'll *probably* guess or come close to guessing the project!

    Bonus! If anyone guesses 100% correctly, he or she shall receive the same prize as the randomly drawn winner. The first correct guess wins, so enter early if you think you've got it!

    Ye Rules:

    All you need to do is enter your guess in the comments below. Please enter only once, to be fair :) However, I'd appreciate it if:

    1) You follow the blog if you enter. This isn't for a follower-collection goal--rather, it's just because I've run giveaways before and haven't been able to track winners down! Help me out--follow so when I announce that You've Won! you'll see the post in your feed.

    2) You feel free to spread the word! If I have tons of entries, I *may* just need to add a runner-up prize :)

    The contest runs for one week--comments open now and will be closed Wednesday, March 28.

    Good Luck! Have Fun!

    Tuesday, March 13, 2012

    Blustery Days and Eighteenth Century Prints

    March has come in like a lion in my part of the world, which means lots of roaring wind and blustery days. Turns out, Marilyn wasn't the first to have a wardrobe malfunction from a sudden gust of wind (subway induced or natural). A few 18th century prints paying homage to the mischevious wind.

    First, from 1751, a young couple steps off a skiff and is greeted by a gust.

    The boatman takes the opportunity to try for a glimpse up the lady's skirt, but he's not safe, either--his wig is blown off leaving him with shorn head. Must be a pretty stiff breeze--look at how the lady's hat, likely felt, is plastered against the side of her head. I love her simple gown and lightly trimmed petticoat. And her huge feet. You never see huge feet in 18th century prints. Hello, giant-footed sister!

    No mishaps here, but relaying the benefits of the wind in 1764:

    The young lady, wearing an ermine-trimmed cloak against the brisk breeze, gestures to a windmill to illustrate Air and its beneficial functions. She has heavily-trimmed sleeves ending in filmy engageantes, is wearing either her cloak's hood or a separate hood (looks to me to be separate) under her beautifully trimmed hat. Note to self--you can have warm ears and avoid squinting in the sun!

    Finally, an embarassing incident in 1771 on account of the breeze:

    Not only is the lady having some petticoat issues from the wind, but she's lost her hat..and her cap...and her wig. The fellow behind her has collected her lost items with some amusement, but the folks in the background are really having a laugh. Possibly the print is not only making light of a funny scene, but also commenting on the impracticality of our lady's fine clothing and wig--note that the woman in the background, probably of a lower class or at least dressing with less panache, is dressed much more sensibly and her hat is remaining firmly affixed to her head. (You really can keep a hat on in the wind--you just have to tie it on, perhaps, a bit less fashionably.) Plus, she doesn't appear to be attempting to wear a wig in high winds--let's let her have her chuckle at the foolish young lady who didn't check the weather before traipsing out in her finery, shall we?

    Are the days blustery where you are? Ever found yourself in a situation like these poor victims of fashion and wind?

    All images from Years in post linked to larger image and more information.

    Wednesday, March 7, 2012

    The Magic of Dye Applied to Shoes

    I've been a touch obsessed with dyeing things lately (ooh, imagine how weird that typo would make me sound--obsessed with dying things...anywho).

    Next up on the docket of Things to Dye, after getting some fabric taken care of, were my wedding shoes. I loved my wedding shoes. One problem--when, other than a wedding in which one is the bride, can one really wear white shoes?

    So I decided to dye them.

    I used the ineffable Dreamstress's tutorial on shoe-dyeing, which I recommend reading in lieu of or in addition to my thoughts if you plan to dye shoes.

    You need:

    Your shoes
    A dye pot (I recommend having a cheap stock pot--enamel or stainless--that you use ONLY for dyeing, never cooking. The chemicals in dye are nasty.)
    Newspaper or other scrap paper to cover a work surface
    Paintbrush (I would buy a cheap one, new, knowing that you might permanently scar it with dye. I bought the second-cheapest thing at the hardware store and it worked fine.)
    Plain white tissue paper

    Step one is selecting your dye, and vital step one of step one is knowing your shoes' fabric content. Many commercially-produced shoes are polyester, so don't assume that natural-fabric dyes will work--and remember that satin is a type of fabric weave, not a fabric content. Hint: You can usually find the manufacturer online and look up the content from there.

    Get your dye a'simmering per the dye manufacturer's instructions for tub dyeing. You are not tub dyeing your shoes, but you are creating a vat of dye to use like thin paint, so this step will be the same as tub dyeing. Except the "add fabric" part. Don't dump your shoes in the dye pot.

    Cover your work surface with scrap paper and stuff the shoes with plain white tissue paper (or other plain, undyed paper). You don't want to use any paper with ink to stuff the shoes--it might bleed.

    When the dye is ready, you're ready to paint!

    I'd think of painting the shoes with a very thin, watery paint more than anything. I pulled the pot from the stove to have it close to me while I dyed, then popped it back on to stay simmering between coats.

    Apply the dye using your painbrush as evenly as possible. It will bleed out, so "chase" the dye with your painbrush and blend it as you go. Sounds tricky, but it's not too complicated.

    Applying the dye:

    I painted two coats of dye, then let the shoes dry completely. The color will dry lighter than it looks when wet, so judge how many coats you want to do off of dry shoes, not wet ones.

    I noticed that the color also looked splotchier when the shoes were not dry, probably because the dye was actually in varying stages of drying.

    Now you get to enter the "lather, rinse, repeat" section of the shoe dyeing process. The shoe on your left has gotten an extra coat of dye. The shoe on the right just has the initial two (notice how much lighter it dried?). Keep painting, drying, repeating, until you are happy with the color. Or really, really bored.

    Another round of dyeing later, the shoe on the left is ready to go, and the shoe on the right needs another coat. You can really see the change in intensity--but remember, this is both from another coat and wet vs dry dye.

    Let them dry completely, then put them away or wear them!

    Words to the wise: I was not planning on EVER wearing these white shoes again, so was willing to risk a dodgy dye job. If you're not willing to risk it, I wouldn't recommend home dyeing. If, however, you're flexible, you can end up with a revamped pair of shoes for barely any cost.

    I was very careful in my application, but there was still a tiny bit of unevenness, mostly around places that the dye pooled, like at the very tips of the toes and in the seams of the bow-fluff decoration. Careful application can cut down on this, but may not eliminate it completely. If perfection is important to you, this may not be the way to go. Also, these shoes were a little complicated with all the extra stuff on the front--totally doable, but it did cause the unevenness to be more pronounced than, say, plain pumps would have been.

    The color selection may not be great, and even with testing swatches, you may not get the color you intend. This is especially true of synthetic fabrics, where you simply do not have the range of dye choices you have for natural fabrics. If color matching is very important to you (for instance, matching a bridesmaid's gown) you may want to go with a professional.

    Finally, those coats take time to dry. Have another project going in tandem--preferably not in the same room if the dye smell bothers you. (Note: dyes for natural fabrics don't bug me, but this dye for synthetics did.)

    Overall, a fun and easy weekend afternoon project!