Monday, May 11, 2015

Times I Screwed Up

I'm loving the honesty circling the costuming world right now, and with it, I feel the need to apologize.

1) I'm a private, facade-loving introvert when it comes to personal struggles. While I fully appreciate the wonderful openness others are engaging while discussing what was *really* going on behind their beautiful costumes, sharing like that is just not me.  It's my failing, but it's also my personality.  And since, overall, I like me, I'll apologize not for being me, but for bowing out of what would likely be a valuable exercise.

However, as I commented on The Dreamstress's post (she has similar feelings on privacy and sharing and openness), there's another side to the Perfection Myth.  There is a myth of perfection that surrounds even our clothing itself.  We sometimes skip the part where we screamed at the fabric that wouldn't press correctly, where we ripped out the same seam fifteen times before getting it right, where we don't share how the silhouette is created, not with a fantastic rump pad, but with a wadded up towel (guilty!).  The “look how perfect I am” misleading makes others feel poorly and can be darn discouraging, but there's another side that I think we have to be even more aware of.  

Sometimes we don't share when we misread research or chose an incorrect fabric for a project.  We might keep mum when we made something in an inaccurate manner,and instead we play it off like we did it right.  I know I've realized months or years later that I was wrong about some detail in historical accuracy in a piece I've made, and haven't posted an update to say "Wait! Don't do as I did..."  Now, I know this is the academic side of me coming out.  Sometimes historical costuming is just for fun, and I'm in NO way picking on those costumes or costumers that never make claims at being accurate reproductions.  But when we do? We have to be honest about our shortcomings

2) So, more importantly, I apologize for screwing up.  No, that's not right.  I apologize for times I've screwed up and haven't talked about it.

Until now:

This "caraco" (at this point I'm not even sure that's the right term) is well-made, was easy to put together, is based on historical images, and the fabric is a boffo hand-done block print, but I'm about 100% sure it's wrong for my reenacting persona.  I've found maybe (I say "maybe" because I'm unsure if I'm seeing what I think I am) two images of these that aren't Dutch or French.  Without more research  backing up its use in England or British colonies, I'll be phasing it out of my wardrobe.  

I still love this evening gown best of all my modern projects.  But how did I come up with the asymmetrical drape? Oh, I put two bodice pieces on upside down and it fit funky, and taking out the lapped seams would have wrecked the fabric.  So I covered up the part I messed up on.  That's right.  You're looking at a salvaged hot mess.

I totally jacked up the lacing on this jacket.  Fortunately, it looks fine without the lacing.

This fit once upon a time. You can sort of see the messed up, rumpled-y front.  Believe it or not, I've gained a little weight over the eight years since I made this (what?!? I know, hard to believe).  Plus, new stays meant a new fit and I cannot, for the life of me, figure out how to fix the front bodice section to not rumple.  (Note: I'll blog soon about my not-quite-documentable solution...but I justify it as being close enough and DARN IT I want to keep wearing this gown.  See? Justification, not authenticity, in action.)  
The sleeve ruffles aren't right, either.
And there's a wadded up towel under there serving as a rump pad.  You're welcome.

I used cable ties to bone these stays.  Actually, I use cable ties to bone ALL my stays.  I also made weird mistakes with binding.  Grommets instead of proper eyelets.  For shame, me.

I never finished these.  Also, the eyelets are grommets, not hand-done.  The binding is crappy cotton tape.  But I wore them for my entire pregnancy...and lent them to a friend for hers.

The only infant clothes I had time to finish aren't right for 18th century infants.  Like, at all.  We just wrapped her in a shawl.

The front of this gown still doesn't fit correctly, the hems are machined, and the skirts are too long.  I "finished" it to that crummy standard two years ago.  And I've barely touched it since.  I keep telling myself I will, but I'm more attracted to starting something new than fixing something old.
Oh, and hey, my child isn't wearing a cap, which is particularly egregious here because she has a little bright pink clip keeping her bangs out of her face.

This fabric isn't quite right. That bothers me more than it should.  But I jumped on it before really looking at it further, and, well.  It's not quite right.

I reviewing more and more examples, I did the pleats on this wrong. In fact, it probably shouldn't be pleated at all, but a circle cut to size, given that most extants and images seem to point to that construction method.  (Even though I love the "spokes of a wheel" design--I don't want to claim it's correct to the period.)

I jacked up the front of this caraco, which I did talk about a little.  I also didn't do the side fitting quite right (with pleats).  That said, it's not intended to be a "French fly-away" front, so I'm still unsure of exactly what I *should* have done.  An excellent example of diving in with incomplete information--but of course, we would never sew if we always waited for a complete picture!
I was talking to friends in modern clothes (so not pictured) when this picture was taken, and I was so awkwardly aware that I was having my photo taken that I think I'm making a really weird face.  Fortunately it's dark and you can't see.

So, a few examples of my foibles.  I hope to be as honest as possible about what I know, what I don't know, when I guess, and when I screw up.  And please ask me if I'm ever unclear.