Sunday, April 28, 2013

shoe upcycle

Once again, I am horribly behind on posting this, but here is what I made for the Historical Sew Fortnightly "accessorize" challenge earlier in the month.  I took a pair of ugly suede pumps and repainted and trimmed them to look like some of the stenciled leather shoes from the late 18th c.

I started by looking for design inspiration.  Most of the stenciled shoes during this period are flat or have tiny little heels, but I did find some earlier examples with slightly taller heels that looked more like my shoes.  I also liked that a few of these shoes used gold metallic paint, so I decided to do something similar with mine.

For the painted pattern, I based my design on these shoes with decorative stripes.

My shoes are painted with acrylic paint mixed with a fabric medium. When you paint suede with acrylic paint, the surface gets smoother and looks more like regular leather, which is a nice bonus. After painting the base color, I used painter's tape to help me space the stripes and draw in the little sun shapes.  I used an oil-based paint pen to draw the designs on the shoes.  It took a while to cover the entire surface, but it wasn't very difficult work - just tedious.  I also painted the heels with the gold paint just to add a bit more contrast.

After the painting was finished, I sewed strips of gold colored silk around the edges and added false seams to the sides.  I tried gluing this binding on first, but the glue kept bleeding through my fabric and staining the outside, so I gave up and sewed it all on by hand.  I finished the shoes with a strip of pinked and pleated trim over the vamp.

Here is the "before"

And here is the "after"

I won't lie - this project was a LOT of work, but I'd definitely try these techniques again to make cheap, customized shoes for the 1780's or 90's.  But unfortunately, these particular shoes are too big and refuse to stay on my feet, even with thick insoles and a ton of stuffing in the toes.  I'm not sure if I'll ever wear them to an actual event or not, but at least it was a good learning experience.  

Oh well.  You win some, you lose some!

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Striped mob cap

Last month, I made a late 18th c. mob cap for the Historical Sew Fortnightly Stripes challenge.  It goes along with a pair of painted shoes that I decorated for the HSF Accessories challenge.   I haven't posted anything about either one of these projects because I was waiting for a chance to get dressed up in my blue redingote with my new cap and shoes and take pictures of it all together... but... my brilliant plan isn't working out so well.  My life is so hectic right now that I haven't had the time for a decent photoshoot, so I've finally given up and decided to just do some quick posts about the construction of these projects and save the dress-up posts for the later.

This project was inspired by a beautiful striped cap in an 1787 portrait by Adélaïde Labille-Guiar.  My version is a 28" circle that I gathered around the edges and then bound into a narrow band of gold silk taffeta that is 30" around.  The sheer striped silk fabric was pretty limp at first, so I starched it heavily and lined it with a layer of tulle to give it a little more body.  The opening of the cap is so large that it only works with a hedgehog wig, but after experimenting with a variety of sizes, this is what seemed to work best for me.

I noticed that many of these caps that are illustrated in period artwork also have a falling veil in the back.  I didn't have much fabric left for the veil, so mine is less full that many of the examples that I have seen, but I thought that a little extra decoration in back would still be better than nothing.
I finished off the cap with a pair of blue bows to match my redingote and a spray of yellow feathers to add a bit of contrast.

This was a very fast and easy project.  It was hand-sewn and entirely made from materials in my stash.  I can't wait to wear it - it's huge and silly and fun, and I'm hoping it will give my redingote a very different look for the summer.

For more wonderfully over-the-top mob cap inspiration, check out the Ministry of Silly Hats page by Mode Historique or the Big Cap of DOOM by The Costumer's Closet.  Both of these ladies and their fabulous caps were a huge inspiration for me wanting to make one of my own.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

first voyage of the pirate costume

Although I'm moving at a snail's pace on this costume, I finished one more piece of my new pirate outfit - the waistcoat - and was able to wear it to Scarborough Faire this past weekend.

My ultimate goal is to also make a jacket to wear over the this under-bodice.  My plan for the waistcoat and jacket is inspired by these two amazing waistcoat/jacket combos from around 1790.

Although most 18th c. women's waistcoats like this one would probably have a plain linen back and lacing to make it adjustable, I decided to use the wool fabric for the back so it would look more complete on its own.  While the long-sleeved jacket will make quite a dandy pirate look, it might not be the most comfortable thing to wear at blazing hot Texas faires.  It'll be nice to have the option of wearing this outfit either way depending on the weather.

The wool is a very fine grey and black stripe, and the bodice is lined with soft cotton canvas.  I used hook and eyes up the center front, and the cording and silver metal buttons on the front are mostly just decorative.  I used a combination of modern and period sewing techniques while making this bodice, but I made sure to include some visible topstitching with unbleached linen thread to give it a little more of a rustic look.

Like the hat and the petticoat, I made this project as a Historical Sew Fortnightly entry.  This one is for the "By the Sea" challenge, and I had so much fun posing by the pirate ship at the Renaissance festival to fit the nautical theme.  At some point, I still need to do some more distressing on the waistcoat and my under-petticoat.  Compared to the hat and the floral petticoat, these other garments look a little too perfect and new.  But other than that, I'm really happy with the way this outfit is coming along, and I can't wait to start working on the jacket so I can call it 100% finished!  

blogging va-cay

Sorry for disappearing on you all lately.  This is my insanely busy time of year at work, and sewing/blogging deadlines were adding too much stress to my already hectic life, so I decided to take a little internet hiatus until things calm down for me again.  But I think the worst of it is over now, so I have 3 new Historical Sew Fortnightly projects and a Curtain-Along post to share with you over the next week or two.  Yay!  :)

And in the meantime, I'm going to once again play the American Duchess shoe lottery.  Will I ever win?  Ha!  Not likely.  But I think her new Regency shoes are so pretty, so a girl can dream...