Thursday, January 8, 2015

Half a Year's Plans: My Goals for The Historical Monthly

I'm down for the Historical Monthly Challenge (formerly Fortnightly) again this year--I found the motivation to share my finished project by a deadline kept me on track on a couple pieces that could easily have been UFOs otherwise.  

As always, best-laid plans might go completely awash, be abandoned, or be ditched in favor of bright, shiny, sparkly ideas.  I've thought out the first half of the year:

  • January – Foundations: make something that is the foundation of a period outfit.
    • Ugh.  A shift.  I really need to make at least one new shift.  The trouble? I don't wannnnna. I find them so boring.  My other option is a false rump--which I also need.  My current version is (don't tell, this is so embarrassing) made from an old towel.
  • February – Colour Challenge Blue: Make an item that features blue, in any shade from azure to zaffre.
    • I could a) finish the early 1940s dress I barely started a couple years ago (given the state of complete incompletion and the fact that I'd have to restart a few parts, I think it would count!) or b) start on the basic late 18th century gown I've been planning and have the fabric for.
  • March – Stashbusting: Make something using only fabric, patterns, trims & notions that you already have in stash.
    • No question, a dress for The Toddler.  I have plenty of fabric choices in my stash and a pattern already procured.
  • April – War & Peace: the extremes of conflict and long periods of peacetime both influence what people wear.  Make something that shows the effects of war, or of extended peace.
    • This is a toughie--I'm  not sure what direction I'll go on this one.  If I can digress for a moment, there are so many moments in fashion that have been linked to a political or cultural moment--war included--that I personally feel are not so clean-cut and incorporate pre-existing moves in fashion (including hemlines during WWII and the Empire style gown post-French Revolution, in case you're wondering).  So if I hold myself to my "research the phenomenon, question everything" standard, this could get interesting!
  • May – Practicality:  Fancy party frocks are all very well, but everyone,even princesses, sometimes needs a practical garment that you can DO things in.  Create the jeans-and-T-Shirt-get-the-house-clean-and-garden-sorted outfit of your chosen period.
    • I knew right away what I wanted to do with this challenge--a simple 1930s skirt for...well, anything.  With a simple blouse and sweater, it's the housekeeping outfit; a nicer blouse and heels, and it can go to church or nicer events.  Is there anything more practical than that?  I already have so much practical 18th century stuff--but tend toward the pretties for other periods.
  • June – Out of Your Comfort Zone: Create a garment from a time period you haven’t done before, or that uses a new skill or technique that you’ve never tried before. 
    • Deep breath--I keep promising myself I'll dive into later period corsets.  I even have a pattern already.  Is it time to take the plunge?
I'm excited to get started--ok, I'm not excited about that shift.  At all.  Time to force myself to cut out some linen.

Monday, January 5, 2015

The Year in Review: Stuff I Made in 2014

First of all, how about a New Year's Resolution?  In digging up pictures of this year's work, I was forced to reckon with the fact that I am CRAP at getting pictures of my work.  Seriously. They're all candids that people snap of me when I'm not looking.

Like this one:



Yeah, that's me scowling at some dishwater.  I don't recall what the water did to offend me, but I look pretty miffed.  

I held onto the photo, though, because it showed Something I Made in 2014--the fluffly white cotton cap.  It also highlights my big...no really, big...accomplishment in learning to dress my hair 18th century style.

Handsewn cap

Experiments in Large Hair and Cat Photobombs
 Another shot from the same event (in which we lucky ladies get to cook in a marvelously appointed rebuilt 18th century kitchen) that shows the back of the sky blue gown:


Though I made the gown over a year ago, I managed to fix some nagging issues with it so that it fits well and I can wear it happily.

The kitchen shots also capture my new apron in action.  I am pretty pleased with this useful little item:



Probably my second-favorite project of the year was my new stays:



which have been years in the making as I went through several "good but not perfect" iterations before I found my stays soulmate.

The big project of the year for me was the pink caraco ensemble I made with matching silk hat, and this whole shebang tops my list of favorite projects this year.  From research to final completion to the glorious fluffy funness of wearing something Borderline Obnoxiously Pink, I loved this project:



I also have zilch for pictures aside from these two--the one above caught by the Chicago Tribune, the other by a fellow reenactor:


Finally, I made a 1930s gown in December as a birthday gift to myself:



So, lesson learned--I need to make time to get photos of my favorite projects.  Part of the experience is wearing and sharing the garments we make--I need to embrace that!

Looking back, it looks like not a whole lot, especially if I start the (noxious, dangerous, evil) comparison game, but then I think about everything that filled the hours between sewing--I went back to work at a job I'm passionate about, I chased a toddler and learned more about princesses than I ever wanted to know, I laughed and played and researched and generally nerded it up with my reenacting friends, I even managed to make it to a couple swing dances--and I think shoot dang! This was a pretty good year!  Here's to 2015