Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Promises, Promises

Okay, so I know I said I would only be working on Costume Con projects between now and May. I really DID try to get started on my single pattern competition entry, but I couldn't find some of the fabric I purchased for it in my fabric stash. The state of my walk-in closet, and the fact that I practically have to empty out the shelves to get to all of my stuff doesn't help.

So when I got tired of digging around in boxes, in a huff I remembered that I have a trip to Dumbarton House this weekend in Regency clothing. That pattern was within my line-of-sight, and the fabric for it is a large bolt of fabric that is contributing to the closet traffic jam. I figured a Spencer and a bonnet might help disguise the fact that my ballgown isn't appropriate daywear, and thus began yet another Costume ADD project - a Regency Spencer.
I'm using another great Sense and Sensibility pattern and making the double breasted spencer on the far right. The pieces sew together beautifully, and I think this will be a fairly simple project. I made up a toile last night out of muslin in the same size as the ball gown and was incredibly pleased to note that it was way too big (we're talking fistfulls of fabric too big). I took it down one size, but now I'm worried that it will be a bit too snug once I get all the layers put on. I'm going to have to put on my gown for another fitting tonight (not a big alteration if the front is a bit too snug), and then hopefully I can move on to cutting out my fashion fabric (the toile will be the lining). I'm using a peach cotton velvet. This is an example of a finished spencer from Pride and Prejudice. Mine won't have the fussy sleeves, but here it is:

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Melissa's Annual Oscar Fashion Review

Yes, I know you've all been waiting for this. Why listen to cranky Joan Rivers when you can have a completely subjective review by someone with no professional knowledge of the fashion industry. This year's big trend was: white, white, and more white. Even the winner of "Melissa's Best Dressed" joined the ranks of the white gowns:
A Big Congrats to Marissa Tomei in Versace. She may not have taken a statue home, but she was certainly dressed like she was ready to. I adore the structured layers of this gown. I really wish I could have seen the red carpet show to see how this dress moved. I bet it was mesmerizing!

Others joined Marissa in the ranks of the running of the brides:Jessica Biel - I think this one was a mistake. The front draping is really unflattering.Penelope Cruz - yikes, you knew you were probably going to win and you wore something that looks like two vintage bridal dresses thrown together. The lace, the frothy tulle in Disney's Belle ruching...definitely one of my lest favorite this year.Miley Cyrus - my initial reaction to this gown is I like it. Once you start analyzing the petals, she has some sort of under-the-sea theme going on (her belt has two shells on it), but I'm going to stick with my gut reaction and say I liked this look.Melissa George - no hesitation here. I don't like it. Morticia Adams in white whith corset strings that really need to be snipped shorter.Taraji Henson - I applaud any of the white dresses that stood out in my mind on Oscar night, and this is one of them. The layering of the fabric is gorgeous and sets off her skin tone beautifully.Nancy O'Dell - again, not too bad. If I was going to wear white to the Oscars, I'd want to look like a Greek Goddess, which Nancy O'Dell is pulling off here.Sarah Jessica Parker - another winner. I don't know how a woman her age can look good in net and tulle, but she just does. The fitted top flatters, and she's definitely channeling her Sex In the City days.Evan Rachel Wood - her hair is the only saving grace that allows her to wear this gown. I just don't think the gown should fade into the background because it exactly matches your skin tone. Beautiful gown, just not the one for Evan Rachel Wood.

To those who resisted the urge to fall in with the crowd and be an Oscar Bride this year, kudos go out to!Kate Winslet, My Best Dressed Runner Up in Atelier Yves St. Laurent. I don't know why, but I love this one. She looks very elegant.
Angelina Jolie - well, no big surprise that she wore black since it's her signature color, but it was a welcome change from the rest of the crowd.Viola Davis looks gorgeous in this gold dress, and definitely stands out in the crowd. The pleats are beautiful.Brownie points to Alicia Keys for wearing a flattering color, though she's channeling Beyonce a bit with that thigh-slit.Frieda Pinto - you know, I would have loved to see her wearing something by an Indian designer instead of John Galliano. That being said, it is a very flattering dress, and I actually really like the one transparent sleeve. The bottom of the dress has that same tulle effect that I liked so much on Sarah Jessica Parker.Amy Adams. There were a handful of red dresses on the runway this year, but none of them seemed noteworthy except for perhaps Amy Adams' dress. I LOVE the Fred Leighton necklace that she's wearing, but I'm not sure about the black pipe detailing on the dress. The draping in the front with chiffon is gorgeous. This one is a hit and miss with me. Natalie Portman - I love the dress shape, draping, and fabric, but I don't think bubblegum pink is her color. C+ for effort and not falling in with the all white dress crowd.Melissa Leo is my Runner up for Worst Dressed in Badgley Mischka. I don't know who to blame - the designer or the stylist. The color is horrible for her, and the torso of the gown is WAY too long to be flattering. This dress could have been a perfect gown, but instead it makes her look older and dowdy.This year's Worst Dressed goes out to Mary Hart. Her picture doesn't say who she's wearing, but it looks like a very badly wrinkled Monet gone all wrong.

Did I leave out anyone you feel is worthy of a mention? I couldn't fit everyone in here, so I went for the ones that jumped out at me. I'd be happy to discuss some more in the comments.

A little side note: I filled out my Oscar Ballot on Saturday. This year I got 18 correct out of 24 categories (about the same as last year). I decided that Mikey Rourke was probably going to win Best Actor, even though I though Sean Penn deserved it. Just shows, I shoulda stuck with my gut feeling. I thought 'Presto" was a shoe in for the animated short film (I mean, when was the last time Pixar didn't win this category??). I also missed Best Foreign - I think Waltz with Bashir got snubbed because it was animated. The others I missed were categories I frequently get wrong: live action short film, sound editing, and sound mixing.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

George Washington's Birthday Ball

Well, the Regency ballgown is officially completed. I hemmed it last week, and wore it to George Washington's Birthday Ball at Gatsby's tavern. Dave came to the ball with me (it was Valentine's day) and I had a GREAT time dancing! I spent a good portion of the night 'costume shopping,' or admiring other lady's outfits to find out where they got their patterns/wigs/accessories. The Ball was set in the year 1799, and I'm a bit too avant-guard - my dress is more like an 1805 or 1807 dress. The lady that's in the picture with me is perfect for the year 1799:
I love her overgown, the long gloves, and the turban was perfect! I have an overgown and turban planned for this gown, but CostumeCon priorities come first until May.
Mary took this great shot of my dress from the back, and I went ahead and helped myself to it because I like how it shows off the pleats at the back of the gown.Here, Mary and I post together out in the banquet room, as we enjoy chocolate dipped dried fruit, cream puffs, and other yummy indulgences in between dances. Mary attends sewing night with me, and it was great to see a friendly and familiar face there!

Here was another great 1799 gown/overgown combination. The couple pictures is dancing the opening minuet at the Ball. It was very pretty, and I have to admit, not at all what I expected a minuet would be.Loren gets the prize for my favorite costume of the evening. It had that 'all together' look that was just perfect. Her wig is EXACTLY what 1799 hair should look like, the overgown is gorgeous silk, and the undergown is fine transparent cotton with a white embroidered hem. I thought she looked very nice. Loren and I met at the Williamsburg Riding Habit workshop - I'm apparently finally getting a good handle on the costuming community!

Sunday, February 08, 2009

1740's Riding Habit

Another weekend, another Williamsburg workshop. This time we were learning to draft/drape 18th century riding habits. The riding habit above is one that the Williamsburg Millinery shop reproduced, and is an almost exact replica of a riding habit at the London Museum.

I went into the class only knowing that I wanted a green riding habit, with worsted wool in hand. I had no idea what style of riding habit I wanted to make - we watched a slide presentation showing habits from the beginning to end of the 18th century. Although I loved some of the later century riding habits (especially the hats), the riding habit on display had caught my eye and I was in love with it. When the instructor asked me what I wanted to make, I pointed over to the mannequin and said "I want that." And so, the 1740's riding habit project was born.

I took a close up picture of the back to show the pretty hand-detailed stitching, and the gorgeous point in the back of the riding habit. It's lined in the same blue silk taffeta that the waist coat is made from. I'm a little daunted at the prospect of figuring out how to drape the skirt of the coat by myself, as well as a few finishing details that I'm unsure on (cuffs, collars??).

At the workshops, we only work on the tops - the skirts are simple and something that we can do on our own at home. We get a basic fitting basted down, and then we're expected to finish up everything on our own. This is as far as my riding habit got. I have chalked on lines on the green wool which will take out some more fabric - right now it's able to close all the way down, but I actually only want it to button down to the bust gusset. I also have sleeves, but I didn't get a picture in them. They're very narrow and fit perfectly.

Here is my fitting partner - she had made her skirt and riding shirt ahead of time (I still have to make mine). The top was drafted by me. I think it went pretty well. I had some very minor corrections from the instructor, but otherwise I'm getting this draping thing down.

The instructor brought along an 18th century sidesaddle was pretty neat. We were allowed to sit in in and get a feel for what it might be like. How funny that this class was only a week before I started my sidesaddle riding lessons! I don't think the saddle above would qualify as a 'safety' sidesaddle that modern ladies use, but it's still fun.
I just HAD to bring back a picture of this Lady Worsley riding hat because I just drooled over it. There were so many feathers on that hat!! I tried it on and really liked it, but I'll have to figure something else out since my riding habit will be far too early for this look. Apparently ladies didn't wear tricorns after the 1730's (if you were British, anyway). I'm thinking I might take on an Austrian persona when wearing my 1740's riding habit so that I can wear a tricorn. Marie Antoinette was pictured wearing a tricorn in the 1770's.

I'll enjoy finishing this project, but it is definitely on hold for now. I'm putting the final touches on my regency ball gown before George Washington's Birthday ball (on Valentine's day), and then it's time to start some SERIOUS CostumeCon sewing.