Sunday, July 27, 2014

Fabric Acquisition...and first world problems!

I know I have cupboards of the darned stuff, but there's always room for another dress length isn't there?
The Fabric Warehouse is having a 40% off sale. I don't get out there often but I love the place. The owner Stephen Shaw, has been in the trade for over 40 years. I bought my very first piece of fabric off him 38 years ago. At 11, I bought some white cotton with red flowers on it to back a quilt I was making - I think it was 20c a metre.
By the time I was 16, I was buying 10 fabrics at a time, getting them home and realising 8 of them were red. We are what we are.. :)
Anyway, yesterday's buys are lovely!
On the left is a glorious purple sequinned black net. It is subtle but intense and I bought 4m. For Constance. She is so spoilt! On the right is a buttery soft viscose with a cottony hand, and a slightly brushed texture. I LOVE IT. What you're seeing is a border that rocks its way in a sine wave along both borders. I spy another maxi dress for summer. Because, well summer!
But before summer I am going to have to haul out all of my summer dresses and take them in, they are hanging off me. Partly because I tend to make things a bit big, but also because I am svelting out a bit especially through the top. This is good for my health I suppose, but tedious for my wardrobe as I dislike adjusting any clothing let alone my own!
Note lacing of jacket is considerably closer in the second photo, and is even closer now. Not bragging and definitely not looking for compliments - I do NOT buy into the whole getting excited about other people's weight fluctuations thing so do spare me. But it does make sewing easier, and trickier -the former because now my mannequin is my size, and the latter because of alterations required to extant makes and my sense of my own spatials. La di da, first world problems eh!
Anyhoo, MrC and I had to head out there again today to get a 95% cotton or viscose or silk weave with 5% lycra to line the brown velveteen frock coat I started oooh, two years ago? I am determined to nail this damned coat this week, to wear to the Caburlesque Steampunk vs Rockabilly show next Saturday!
So wish me luck!

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Born Before '74, We Did It!

  It was short, sweet and fun. Here are some photos:

 Gold for starters...
 Michael and Emma singing at the piano.
 Me and MrC - another singer friend was meant to be in the show but when he couldn't do it. MrC stepped in. It was fun pretending to be married to my own husband!
 MrC and Jan Bolwell from Crows Feet Dance Collective getting their dance on. MrC was sitting in the front row when she went to grab someone from the audience, and he is always up for a laugh :)
Me in the WTF coat.
Miss Moxie Fizz  - every other photo I have of her act gives away the whole punchline of a truly hilarious act!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Refashion: The WTF Purple Coat

This purple taffeta evening coat has a life story more exciting than many novels. I bought it on sale - the tag said $127.50 but it turned out to be $217.50. This caused a storm of grump. I was happy to pay the higher price as it was still a great price, but annoyed at the store's attitude to it all.
Anyway, not a great start. I've worn it a lot - to give out prizes at the Plain English Awards in my previous life, to weddings and even to work. However its unique combination of length and short waistedness, and my tendency to go in and out at the waist have meant it wasn't as fab as I thought at first.
 Plain English Awards 2010. The pic on the left I feel shows the biggest issue, which is how the skirt is cut, with the bias at the front and the straight at the back, so it swings forward oddly. But it was fun to wear anyway. Don't I look intelligent in my glasses!
At a family wedding with Mum and DadRon. It was VERY hot and middle aged ladies and synthetics and hot days = grumpy. ;-)

So, when I needed a second costume for a show recently, I hauled it out for a makeover. Attaching some purple boa around the neckline and centre front gave it some OTT kudos:
Except that I still wasn't happy with it. It isn't flattering, for a start, and I look like a barmaid from the Rovers Return circa 1970. Not that I care particularly, but it LOOKS like it ought to be flattering. For some reason this bugs me. And in a photo shoot recently I found out that it is the wrong length to wear with the mermaid skirt.
So, with a long held, quietly simmering passion for peplums to honour, big scissors and a mirror, I lopped most of the skirt off to turn it into a jacket with a peplum.
I cut it off across the front just below the Point of No Return, and tapered it back to just above the original length. The strip around the bottom I cut off, split lengthways, folded lengthways and applied as a hand pleated finish, to help the bottom stick out.

 Hand pleated edging about 2.5cm/1 inch wide, giving the bottom some body.
The inside of the pleated edge, showing black lace enclosing the raw edges of the seam tidily.
Pretty, and a much better shape, but BORING. Then a brainwave. Remove the silly feather trim and reapply to the hem! Because less is more, said no show girl EVER! You can see the feathers in the photo above, already pinned before I thought to take the photo.
Still not exciting enough, so I was over the moon to unearth a bag of bling I dyed from turquoise to purple a while ago (I cannot find the photos of this anywhere!) and these plus some extra purple sequin trim finally tipped the balance.
So here it is:
It still rides up at the waist but it is much more glamorous and silly, which is very important when you are as OTT as Connie!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Show Selfies

I have every faith that the proper photos of our show, Born Before '74, will be great. In the mean time, my friend Terry took a few of him, me and our friend Tui in the foyer after the show on Friday night.

They were enthusiastic audience members, participating fully when asked to do so. You have to love that!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Opening Night!!

Goodness me this showbiz malarkey is stressful! But such fun! And it's good for business too, the shop has been quite busy given it is so cold here most of the city is going into hibernation. I hope people will come out to see the show in the cold though.
Anyway, another costume share just quickly before I dash off to my last rehearsal.
A few years ago, I bought a bunch of lingerie, including the rather lovely brown bustiere below. It is super comfortable as a party top, and when Constance appeared I decided to include it in her costumes. But could I find it Heck no! I pulled the house apart, but no joy. So finally I went back to eBay and was delighted to see another one listed. Indeed there still is one listed, as it is where I pulled the photo. The seller must have a warehouse full of them as I bought the first one about seven years ago!
You know how when you give up on finding something it reappears days later? Upon retrieving a suitcase from the high cupboard recently, we found that all the missing items were in it.
Cute huh? But a girl only needs one!
So earlier this week, I pulled out the mannequin, cinched it into my measurements when cinched, and draped, pinned and tacked it into this:
The gold is left over from trimming Twisted Fate and MrC's Steampunk cossie. I was going to tuck all the edges under and hand stitch them but after trimming, I then rearranged the overlap to drape further around, so the cut edges all came up into the garment. No allowance for tucking under. So, I unearthed the lovely pieces of gold guipure lace, cut and pinned and sewed and covered them all up. I rather like the result.
Then I realised it needed to be seen from space, of course, so glued a bunch of hologram sequins onto it. Yes, I GLUED them. Time is a harsh mistress!
 Pic without flash.
So this little top will be worn under the gold tiger top, the WTF purple coat I've not blogged about yet, and with the black fishtail skirt that is Constance's signature garment. And shall remain so until I get an idea of an alternative!
Wish me luck! xo

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

My Craft Swap Haul - all the way from Blighty!

Every year the amazing Kestrel takes the time to organise an international Spring Sewing Swap. She pairs up those who join up, and leaves us to sort out what we're doing.
So far I've not been paired with a blog I already follow, so it is fun to discover a new one and the amazing (ALWAYS, isn't that the best thing about blogs?!) woman behind it.
This year it was Being Frank, aka Nuzzle, who had been in a bit of a dry spell blogging wise. But OH MY!! What an amazing person she is! We have had a wonderful time chatting back and forth and it turns out she has been a quiet reader of mine for a while, and even did an entire "backlist review" once so she probably knows more about me than I do.
Actually, she does! When her bundle arrived last week, in it was the most incredible thing. I confess tears came to my eyes. She did a mind map about me - what I was into, key phrases, (More is more!!) with lines connecting related themes. I had one of those supremely precious moments of feeling understood.!
So, when I went to photograph what she sent, the camera had disappeared. And finally days later I found it, and here we are!!
The cold light in this photo tells you as much bout how freezing it is here as I could ever write! From the left: a length of watermelon silk habotai, a blue butterfly motif, tiger bias binding, tiger elastic, grommets in an organza bag, beading trim, The Little Book of Corsets, all sitting on 1m of real black coutil!! Oh, and a busk!!
Now to unpack the logic behind this lot - Nuzzle picked up on Constance being quite fond of shiny and animmal print things - hence the tiger elastic and bias binding and bead trim. Tiger print things!! We do not get such fabulosity here! And the butterfly, now Nuzzle may not know this (did I blog it? Can't remember) but a similar blue butterfly is hidden on the lining of my wedding dress as my something blue. I will put this onto the jeans that already have Sian's lovely Welsh and Indian decons from my very first craft swap. If the jeans survive, they may well end up with more decon than denim!
The black and white spot ribbon even is lovely and that was just in the wrappings.And the gorgeous silk, I adore silk, was from her stash. I see another camisole in my life - silk against the skin is essential in this freeing winter, being soo much warmer than wool.
And then, real coutil, a busk and a book of corsets! Now that rocked me. In Kiwiland busks and coutil cost a fortune as we have to import them and the shipping costs more than the things themselves! I think I am being challenged to make a corset for Constance? Hmm. I will seriously think about it - I have long toyed with the idea of an under bust, just for fun, and heavens know I have enough squish to just maybe achieve some kind of waist!
Thank you Nuzzle for your amazing thoughtful generosity, not just in the selection of goodies but in every sense.
You can see Nuzzle's post about what I sent her here.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

My "Not actually Zebra patterned" coat.

I bought this fabric in a Globalthatwas customer sale for only $10m!! It is silk chiffon but mostly the fibres are metallic. I thought that a lovely gold zebra print was just perfect for Constance.
It was only this week I realised that a gold and brown zebra stripe was probably, umm, tiger? ;-)
Anyway with only 2m to play with, I had in mind a sort of thigh length kimono style top for Constance - a little bit Abbaesque.

NOT to be worn with thigh high boots, mind!
Anyway, I cut it out and it sat around for ages, until I realised I needed a couple of new costumes for Born Before '74, and the 1970s vibe of this one was going to be perfect.
So I ran it up super fast. With an old needle. Sewing lurex. Does anyone know where this is going? The needle keeps pushing the flat fibres of lurex down instead of going through them, resulting in puckering and tangling everywhere. Sigh. Still, a goodly pressing mostly sorted it out.
Then, I found it was just not right as a kimono. I'm hardly an hour glass, more a hot water cylinder. The belted look was awful! Too awful to show you poor things. The fabric is light and has no drape because of it, so it puffs and billows unflatteringly.
And thus my kimono became a duster jacket. And it was too normal. More like the kind of thing an in denial 60 year old bleach blonde would wear to the Petone Workingmen's Club on a Friday than Drag. So, sequins have been added. And stars.
Maybe it is even a bit Sneech? Except the stars are not on my belly!
I wore it out on Friday night to a party, with only some sequins sewn on in time, as above, on one shoulder, like a corsage. But that is the great thing about embellishment, it can be a work in progress and still be worn. MrC and I walked the length of Cuba St in Wellington with me in full Constance regalia and we got lots of delighted and positive comments, not one snarky one.
I love Wellington!

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Were you Born Before '74??

I was, quite a bit before! And I am getting to the age where the changes in the world are really, really noticeable over my lifetime.
At times I harken back to when life was simpler. When phones were wired into a wall, and there were only two TV channels. If you wanted to see a movie you had to go to the cinema, or hope it would get played on TV, which only happened when it was 150 years old anyway!
And so a show was born. A short, sweet late night cabaret.
Michael Nicholas Williams and Emma Kinane (remember Lonely Heart?) are joining Constance, MrC, Moxie Fizz (known to you as acharmofmagpies) and local fabulous dance collective Crows Feet to hang a bunch of songs, comedy and dance together about life before '74, and what it is like to be over 40 in 2014.
The idea came to me when I was going through the coloured fondant icing in the shop and taking out the Best Before stuff before it was 'dated'. I thought how there was nothing wrong with any of it and then I got to thinking about Best Before '74, but like so many of my pun based ideas, it could be taken very differently - like we old people are ready for the bin!
So, if you happen to be a Wellingtonian or in town on 18 or 19 July, and 10pm is not too late for you to come out and play, we're at the Gryphon on Ghuznee St. It's only $15. And the best thing is, if you're going to see Grease at the Opera House on either night, you will have time to scoot down Leeds St, grab a drink at our bar and see the show. How I know this is that we have Michael, who is Musical Director of Grease, so we can't start until he gets there! :)
I am currently blinging up a tiger print lurex duster coat, first worn out on Friday night. Constance and MrC walked the entire length of Cuba St, to much hooting and whistling and compliments.I love how positive Wellington is about dressing up - noone scowling or being disapproving - even a group of teenage boys stopped to comment that "You guys look really cool!"
Obviously brought up properly!
Tickets are available from iticket. Hope to see you there!

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Friday Makes..on a Wednesday?

OK OK, it's not Friday anywhere on the planet, but I am too excited about having this one to wait!
23 years ago two dear friends of mine got married - Liz and Brendan.
In those days, New Zealand was truly a backwater, where you couldn't buy much of anything. Dupion silk we could do but not much else. I adore DS so no problem there, but I did have to send to Fotios Bros in Sydney for real glass pearls and crystal beads - no internet shopping in 1991!
Also the wedding magazines were featuring a lot of embroidered cutwork insets, but none were forthcoming from the shops, so in good kiwi style, I decided to do my own.
Which is why I have Liz's dress at my house again. I am speaking to the Wellington Embroiderer's Guild next week and have been sourcing things to show them, which is not easy when one tends to strew one's works around! Luckily not only are Liz and Brendan still married, they live locally and I knew she still had it.

 A close up of the inset. This was made separately and hand sewn into the space afterwards. I had forgotten the design and was delighted to see my old favourite the Clematis, as also featured on my sister's and my own dresses.
A full length shot showing the rich colour better. The design was unusual even for the time. In those days, we had a pleating service in town, and I love pleats as they give a gown a tailored look. Liz didn't want a straight dress but she didn't want a poofy one either so pleats turned out to be the perfect approach.
 The sleeves. This was worked directly onto the sleeve - I can feel some lightweight interfacing in behind it to give it some stability. 
Close up of the inset with contrast cranked up. This is on a white sheet.

 And that is what I got up to 23 years ago in the school holidays (I was a primary school teacher)! :)