Commercially Alternative: 2014

Friday, November 14, 2014

The Borgias Renaissance Costume Part 1: The Idea

Many years ago, I attended my first Renaissance Festival. The Faire was such a wonderful experience, that I’ve been back every year it comes to town. While the performances have become a little repetitious and the wares are still out of my price range, what keeps me coming back is the fun with friends and, of course, the costumes.

I’ve never gone to Faire in civilian clothes. Of course, some years, the weather doesn’t cooperate and I incorporate what I can. Have I ever been remotely historically accurate? Nope. Do I have a great time and am learning more each year what would be historically accurate? You bet.

My first Festival, I wore a dress given to me by a friend. It was a lovely Ever After styled gown made by her Aunt and it just didn’t fit her anymore. I really did feel like a princess running around in its flowing skirts. (Despite freezing my butt off that year!) Since then, I’ve tried to be more accurate to the time and location of the Renaissance Festival. Every iteration of my costume has improved over the years little by little. Although, my first attempt missed the mark by light years.

However, this year I’ve grown a little tired of the multitude of layers and particulars required of historical wear. I just don’t feel like running around in corsets, bum rolls, hoopskirts, underskirts, over skirts, etc. I want to capture the feeling of running around in a comfortable gown like my first time again. Of course, that means making something new!

I’m using the costumes from the TV show The Borgias as my inspiration. I’ve never seen an episode, have no idea who's who or what it's about, but I’m enthralled by the costumes.

Here are some of the inspiration pictures I will be using. One thing is for sure, I will NOT be making the neckline that low.




I’m still not sure of the complete design for my own costume. There are aspects I like out of all the dresses, but I feel I must wait until I can get to the fabric store and see what I have to work with before I make firm decisions. Unfortunately, I know I’m going to skip on the intricate sleeves this year. I don’t have the time to figure that nonsense out without a pattern. Maybe next year I can add in some detachable sleeves. I plan on making up for no gown sleeves by making a new chemise with enormous sleeves! Although, I can’t decide what material to make the chemise out of.

I don't know when this project will start, as I have a multitude of things on my grown-up to-do list first. But I hope I can begin soon as I am positively itching to sew! I'm curious if I can pull it off.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! (as late as it is) Christmas snuck up on me this year and I feel I've been too busy for anything this holiday season. Nevertheless, I haven't completely forgotten you all!

I completed my sewing class in December with an A! I received A's on all of my projects. I'm glad it went well, but I wish our instructor was a little pickier? Maybe expect more out of us? This seems like a good place for someone to say, "Be careful what you wish for!" However, I'm not sure I'm learning much. It is definitely a better experience than teaching one's self using the internet and it was wonderful making all of my new sewing friends. I just don't feel my garments were quite as praise worthy as she made them out to be. Perhaps this will change when I take the intermediate course next semester.

The beginner class consisted of three projects; a skirt/pants, a blouse, and your choice. My first project was a pleated skirt out of pink and purple shantung from McCalls 6706 . It went together really easily and quickly. I loved how it turned out. Except, it was too big. Luckily I hadn't totally completed the waistband when I discovered this. The shantung shifts so incredibly easily. I believe this is the reason the skirt was too big rather than the pattern itself. So my instructor had me take in some pleats, said it was still too big, and I took it in more. Well, then it was far too small! But time was almost gone and I had already missed the due date (luckily she's very flexible about due dates). Therefore, I finished it even though it doesn't fit and turned it in. I actually managed to zip it up in the picture below, but I'm sucking it in rather uncomfortable. It's meant to have a small petticoat, but I have not finished it yet. I'm hoping I can still salvage this project and adjust the waist once more.

The next project was a blouse. It was New Look 6078. Oh… how I have come to hate this thing. I spent to much time doing and redoing the pin tucks. I then discovered that the fabric pen had stained my blouse even though I had used it on projects with white fabric before. Just goes to show you always need to test things before using them. Always. Therefore, my blouse has little brown dots and marks all over it. In addition, the instructions for the collar were just nonsense in my beginner's opinion. Ah well. On the plus side, the blouse fits perfectly!

The final project was our choice. I wanted to draft a skirt pattern similar to this dress I found on Tumblr. 

However, that was a huge mess. It looked perfect when I put it together, but when I tried it on it was too big. However, when I adjusted the waist, it was too tight in the hips. Then I adjusted the angle of the pleats, but then the darn thing just wouldn't hang right. So I bagged it and just drafted a half circle skirt. It was made out of a fairly light quilting cotton so I added a lining. I'm not sure I was ready for that step. I also think, since the fabric is so light, I should have put the zipper in the back instead of at the side. It doesn't hang quite ideally on the side of the zipper. However, it's the first time I did and invisible zipper and matched plaids! The matching plaids could have gone better, but the invisible zipper turned out rather well.

I've signed up for the sewing class next semester! However, I'm going to do a few things differently this time around.
  • Bring my own sewing machine - There is no way I am using the school's sewing machines anymore. I blame them for half my sewing problems last semester. You just cannot trust a machine that has been abused by countless beginner sewers before you
  • Bring my own press cloth - To be honest, I don't use press cloths at home. However, just as you can't trust countless of complete beginners with a sewing machine, you can't trust them with irons either. I don't know how many pieces I had to scrap this semester because there was some sort of dirt on the ironing board or melting glue from interfacing on the iron. 
  • Work at home - Last semester we were under the impression that our instructor wanted us to do the majority of our sewing in class and we needed her to check off on most everything we did. Well, we ALL ran out of time. This year I'm doing most of my work at home and save class for questions and difficult sections.
Since it's the New Year let's see how I stacked up to last year's resolutions.
  • Practice trumpet at least twice a week - Again, I was completing this one until March and then I fell off the wagon. I picked it up again in the fall and was practicing every day and taking private lessons! However, it soon became a chore instead of an enjoyable hobby and every time I practiced, I would think of all the sewing I could be doing in that time instead.
  • Get better at my job - Nope! I feel sooo useless! Well, to be honest, I think I am more useful than where I was last year, but I feel I can do much better and I am far behind what I should be.
  • Complete my Renaissance Festival outfit - Done! Ah… how wonderful to have a successfully completed resolution.
  • Finish my black scoop neck blouse - No, but I did a white blouse for my class instead so I’m counting it as done. XP
  • Blog at least once every other week - I have about two posts a month until October, so this one is semi complete.
This year was hard for me I must say. Let’s hope 2014 fairs better. Here are my 2014 resolutions.
  • Complete my Victorian corset - I have about half of the supplies. My sewing class instructor says she will help me with this as one of my class projects.
  • Complete my steampunk bustle skirt - Another class project.
  • Sign up for a sewing class in the Fall semester - Got to keep this sewing trend going!
  • Wear a costume to Comicon - This is the year! Luckily, I can use my school projects for this!
  • Exercise at least twice a week - This really has to be done as there may be a certain event coming up in my future…
  • Blog twice a month - My writing skills are getting very rusty in my current job. Maybe I will bring back the “Stories to Match” just to get me practicing.
  • Learn how to use a serger - I got a serger for Christmas! Yes!!! It’s a Brother 1134DW from Costco. I’m so excited and a little intimidated. ^_^