Monday, 22 December 2014

House Fire

I know I've been painfully inactive since the beginning of November, and the reason is that on the 10th of November, we have a house fire in our flat. No one were hurt, the fire didn't spread to any other flats and we have insurance which has covered most of our losses. However, we no longer have a home, and most of our belongings have been damaged beyond repair by smoke, heat or flames.

We are currently living with some friends, who have been kind enough to let us rent their guest room until we find a new place to live. We managed to save some of our belongings, including my husbands wedding clothes (barring the shirt, which was simply too sooty and stained to save) and, hopefully, my wedding dress, although we've been told it has gotten some discolouration which could not be removed in the cleaning process. I managed to rescue out most of my Tauriel cosplay, and Kili's tunic and trousers have come through whole, but I have yet to find out if all the leather work has made it through. My viking gear and some of my linen dresses have also been saved, so have some of my recent self made clothes. The rest had to be thrown. All my other cosplays are gone, and my 12 year old, reliable sewing machine also corked it. And on top of it all, I went down with bronchitis and then sinusitis, knocking me out for almost six weeks. After two rounds of antibiotics and now working through my third, I'm slowly getting back to health.

In spite of this, we are trying our best to look forward and focus on the positives rather than dwelling on what has past. This certainly has give us a kick in the butt to go looking for a place to buy, and with a very generously low rent on our friends' guest room, we have the opportunity to save a lot more than we normally would have been able to. Most importantly, we have gotten tremendous and overwhelming support from both family and friends, so, all in all, we consider ourselves lucky. We've taken a big blow, but we're still standing.

On a positive note, the insurance money have granted my a new, updated sewing machine, this time with a gorgeous embroidery module and lots of exciting functions I have yet to try out! So, I'm getting back on the costuming horse too, slowly but surely!

Thursday, 6 November 2014

Steampunk Wedding Dress - Bolero/Shrug

About two weeks before the wedding, I felt like my outfit was missing something, that little extra that wraps it all up. So I set out to make a bolero, or as some call it, a shrug.

I made the pattern using an old waistcoat and cotton, and then cut out two sets (one in green silk and one in brown silk) so that I could mix and match the pieces to make it multi coloured. I stiched it all together and added ruffles on both shoulders and ruffles as a collar. Then I stitched on buttons on the front and two on the back, and that was it! Bolero done!

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Steampunk Wedding Dress - Bustle Bling!

After I finished the brown apron skirt, I started on the decorations for it! As it was, it looked very dull and like it was sorely missing something, so I played around with different ideas and ended up with a two layered solution. The first layer was simply half circle, brown silk lined with green, which I folded on either side. The other layer was a little more complex. This too was two sided, green on one and brown on the other, and involved both buttons, a thin golden rope (it was originally too thin, and I hand spun it to twice the thickness) and handmade golden tassels.

I made a pattern with the rope, pinning it in place while I hand stitched it on, as well as the buttons. Then, I attached the tassels to the rope. Realizing that the piece I had made wasn't wide enough for me to attach it to the buttons on the skirt with button holes, I stitched on a loop of gold rope on either side and made a button hole on the middle of the top ridge.

It's all a little difficult to explain, so here's some photos of the result that may help you visualize it:

Steampunk Wedding Dress - The Brown Apron Skirt

Gosh, I am so waaaaay behind on my blogging! It's been a little busy lately as the wedding was last Friday and the entire week was spent in England with limited access to internet and a lot of preperations to do!

When the wedding photos arrive, I'll be posting up some proper pics of the dress in it's full splendour here, but let's not get ahead of ourselves. ;)

First up! The making of the brown apron skirt, which went on to of the green skirt.

Yet again, I made a cotton mock-up first to have a pattern to go by. I based it off the mock-up for the green skirt, but with some quite considerable changes. The back of the skirt had no gathering and consisted of three smooth panels with a hint of a mermaid cut. the front part was made out of three panels as well with some extra width as it was to be gathered vertically where it met the back part of the skirt, and at the two seams of the middle panel, I made upward folds where I later stitched on buttons to hold them up.

I made the closing relatively similar to the green skirt, only without any buttons. Instead, I made it so that it attaches to the buttons of the green skirt, which also makes sure that it doesn't slide out of place. On the bottom of the back panel, which forms a bit of a train, I added more ruffles and a brown velvet ribbon for some texture contrast.

On the  sides, where the front panel meets the back panels, I added handmade flowers (made from the same green silk as the green skirt) with facet cut beads to hide the seam and add some colour contrast and bling!

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Elf Cuffs & Fantasy Stuff - An Etsy Shop Re-Launched

I've recently just re-launched my Esty Shop, "Chameleon Candour - Elf Cuffs & Fantasy Stuff"! There's not that much there yet, but there is much more to come! Here's a little look at the stuff I've made available for purchase so far:

First up, a pair of what I call "Elf Cuffs", in a rusty orange coloured wool, with wool yarn felted into the base to make a pattern:

Second, another pair of Elf Cuffs in the same type of wool, but these are decorated with crochet flowers:

Thrirdly, and lastly for now (but not for long!), is a my signature leather belt (seriously, I wear this pretty much all the time)! It's not in stock, as this is made to order, and I tailor it to fit spesific measurements:

My sewing and crafting has mainly been a hobby, but it is as costly as it is time consuming, so I've decided to start selling certain products that I've received positive feedback on, in hopes that this hobby might actually start earning me a little money as well. I won't lie, it would be a dream come true if it turned out I could partially live off running an Etsy shop!

I would therefore be beyond thankful if you, my kind readers, would pop by it, have a look around, and, if you like what you see, favorite my shop and share it with your friends! And, of course, buy things from it, if you see something you want! ^_^

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Steampunk Wedding Dress - The Green Skirt

With the essential undergarments sorted (I already have a pair of bloomers and a chemise I can use), I turned my focus to the skirt and apron skirt. I’d already bought tons of cheap cotton and made a mock-up  to see approximately how much material I would need. Then I set off to get the fabrics.

I found raw silk in the perfect colours; a mossy green and a nougat brown, and bought 4 meters of each in total (later I had to run back to the store to buy another meter of the green, however, as I was running short). Raw silk is amazing to work with, light and pliable, and yet textured and crisp.

Using the deconstructed mock-up as a pattern, I cut out the pieces and started putting it all together.

I hit a wall, however, when I was trying to decideon the best type of closure for the skirt. Should I make a side opening, like I did with the petticoat? That would mean it would be potentially visible should I choose to wear the skirt without the apron skirt over it, and it didn't really allow much room for adjustment should lose more weight. Instead I went for a different solution, (which also turned out to be very useful later) basically making a "flap" out of all the gathering in the back which can be attached to the waist band through buttoning. It's a bit difficult to explain, but on the picture below, you can see pins where I later placed the buttons (one on either end of the "flap" and one in the dead center):

Here's another picture showing the hand stiched split and the gathering before the band was sewn on:

The gathering had given me a lot of material in the back to work with and make a bit of a train, but instead of meeting the floor in a soft curve towards the floor, the excess material just rumpled up in a creased pile. I remembered how American Duchess solved this issue with the Green Acres gown, and followed suit, inserting a godet at the center as illustrated by the photos below:

Here's a shot of the the back of the skirt after I had finished off the waist (minus the buttons) and hemmed the bottom:

Having finished the base of the skirt, it was time to move on to the ruffles! Raw silk is dreamy to work with when it comes to folding and pleating, but for all it's crispness, I still needed to stiffen the ruffles with starch to make them stay, just ironing them didn't do the job. 

Before I startched them:

After I starched them:

The difference was tremendous! With the starch the ruffles kept their sharp neatness and stayed in place. If you don't have any starch nearby, do not fret! You can do like I did and make it yourself! Just use water and corn starch, mix them together and put it all in a clean spray dispenser. :)

I'm considering a second row of ruffles (as indicated by the second chalk line, but I haven't quite decided yet.

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Steampunk Wedding Dress - Undergarments

I first planned on making everything but the blouse (I had already spotted one I liked and blouses are a bore to make), but as I found the perfect corset in the same store as the blouse (and I knew I might risk getting pressed for time), I bought that as well, allowing me to spend my time on making the undergarments and the skirt.

The silhouette I wanted to go for was inspired by the late 1870’s and early 1880’s, meaning a less generous bustle, leaning a little towards the natural form style. But I would still need a bustle, so I made a so-called “Lobster Tail Bustle”. Again, the amazing American Duchess provided excellent guidance with her tutorial (which you can find here), even though I deviated a little from it, it was very helpful!

Here's the result:

To go over the bustle, I made a petticoat and attached a “bum bustle” to it on the inside for some extra bustle padding.

This is the "bum bustle" after I'd attached two out of four rows of frills:

Here's the petticoat before the bottom frills were attached:

 And here's the several meters of frills pinned to the bottom of the petticoat:

Monday, 18 August 2014

Steampunk Wedding Dress!

In July last year, my love popped the question, and in October this year we’re tying the knot, which means wedding dress! I’ve never been the type of person who’s had her wedding all planned out for years (I’ve actually not given it much thought at all), but I’ve always known that if I ever did get married, the dress would be anything but white. I considered going all black, or perhaps blood red, but as we decided on a steampunk theme for the wedding and set the date for the 31st of October, Halloween, I knew it would have to be autumn colours. In the end, I went for green and brown.

With a steampunk theme, the style was an easy choice: Victorian Steampunk Extravaganza!

My research became an indulgence in Victorian fashion and more modern Steampunk variations on the style. Some pictures and dresses were more inspiring than others though, amongst them were the Green Acres dress by the marvelous American Duchess, who's also provided me with a lot of invaluable research material and tutorials (seriously, this woman is fantastic)!

Another was this Afternoon dress by House of Worth, ca 1875 Paris:

And this 1875-77 one from the Met Museum:

This dinner dress, 1877-83, sold by Lord & Taylor:

And numerous dresses from the late 19th century issues of Haarper's Bazar. In the end I finally made my own design with the elements that I liked, but I won't show it to you yet! ;)

Friday, 15 August 2014

Fire Elsa - Final result!

Desucon was an absolute hoot and on Sunday I debuted my "Fire Elsa"! It was a lot of fun, perhaps in particular because there were so many other Elsas there but I was the only one who had done a fire version. Here are some of the photos from the con:
Photo by Nils Katla
Photo by Branna Laurelin
Edit by me
Photo by Branna Laurelin
Edit by me
Photo by me

I participated in the cosplay competition, but I had no ambitions of winning. I had already seen some of the other participants and followed the progress photos on Instagram and such on a few of them, and they were truly epic! But the finalists were given the chance to do a performance, and I really wanted to sing, so I applied anyway. 

Come Sunday, however, my voice was utterly broken after two con days, and when I was told I was amongst the finalists, I got incredibly nervous, as I didn't know whether I would actually be able to sing at all, plus the fact that there were probably around two thousand people in the room, and I've never performed in front of such a big crowd! In the end, I got up on stage and did my best, which, in my critically inclined mind, wasn't very impressive for the first third of the song, but the crowd was very forgiving and incredibly supportive, and it calmed my nerves down and gave me enough confidence to plough through, in spite of my uncooperative larynx! 

A friend of mine was kind enough to record it all and share it, so if you want to see my performance, here you go:

As expected, I didn't win the competition (a friend of mine who'd been working on her Elsa cosplay since January (and i bloody showed!) won, and it was really well deserved), but I won an Honourable Mention for my performance, and to be honest, that's more than enough for me! ^_^

Monday, 11 August 2014

Elsa update: Skirt, glitter and shoes!

Even though I already had a skirt that might work, I ended up making a new skirt instead of using the one I already had. Mostly because I didn't particularly feel like cutting the old on up for the front split, but also because I kind of wanted a lighter more yellow colour. I lined it using the leftovers I still had of the old fabric, though, and with the split (which conveniently has "waves" created by the seam), it gives a delightful "fiery" look! Unfortunately, I don't have any good pictures of the skirt, but here are some of the other extras: 

I ended up decorating the train with some extra glitter in red and gold!
I also found a pair of pumps that just screamed Fire Elsa!
  Facing the eternal problem of certain cosplays; "how do I carry all my stuff?" I solved it by making a cute, little bag from the left over materials. This was a life saver, and I like it so much I might actually use it for other occasions as well!

Friday, 8 August 2014

Borre Viking Market

In Norway, summer is the big season for medieval and viking markets and festivals, one of them being Borre Viking Market, and obviously, that means having attire that fits the period.

Some markets or festivals are stricter than others if you chose to be a participant and part of the camps inside the actual market (as guest you can get away with pretty much anything, but expect some looks of resentment if you show up in your best neon spandex suit), and as I plan on being able to participate as part of a camp during at least one market next year, I'm slowly building the skills and knowledge to make myself an historical wardrobe pre-dating the 18th century. 

My first venture into Viking clothing is the signature «apron dress». This is a dress with straps, usually made out of wool and worn over a shift (usually made out of linen). Last year, I bought two meters of gorgeous rusty red wool, for this specific purpose. However, being me, I didn’t really get started on it before, well, pretty much the night before the market, so I cheated a little and used the machine for the long seams on either side and in the back. But everything else was sewn by hand! 

Unfortunately, I only had synthetic thread, so I chose one in a colour very close to the rusty red so that it would not be a chronological eye-sore. Last year I acquired a set of turtle brooches to attach the straps with, and I also made the decorative pearl and bone string that hangs between them. I used my medieval inspired green linen dress as a shift underneath it. For the occasion I also dug out my old bronze Snorre necklace that was given to me in my early teens, which is based on historical finds, the “Mjølnir” pendant I bought at Tønsberg Medieval Festival last year and some bronze bling from various festivals for my fingers and ears. So here's the outfit I wore for this year's Borre Viking Market (and, yes, the belts are very historically inaccurate, but as a guest and not a participant, I didn't really care that much; I'll go for complete accuracy when I'm a participant):

Whilst at the market, I didn't really take that many pictures, but I managed to get this of one of the ships harbored at the pier:

Here's the loot I got from the market! A really cute, green ceramic mug, rusty red linen thread, a little bundle of natural coloured linen thread, beeswax and a gorgeous woven trim:

After the market, I used my newly acquired linen thread to re-sew all the visible seams, getting rid of that awful synthetic thread. I also added the lovely woven trim I got to the bottom of the apron dress: 

Thursday, 26 June 2014

New project: Fire Elsa

Like pretty much everyone else, I've been enthralled by Disney's Frozen, and like everyone else I've been singing Let it Go on almost a daily basis. However, the cold really does bother me, and so a while back, I made a fire version of the song and the idea struck me that it would be pretty awesome to make a cosplay to match it! And so started started the process of Fire Elsa!


I started planning it quite early this year, picking up material that could potentially work from fabric sales and such, but in between finishing Tauriel for Desucon Fantasy for mid April, and suddenly deciding to update Kili for HobbitCon, time slipped through my fingers and I never got the chance to start working on it. Then, a few weeks ago, having originally planned to just go for Kili all of Desucon 9, I dived into it, not telling anyone, thinking that if I finished it, I'd use it, and if I didn't, no one would be the wiser.

I already had a dark orange skirt that could work, so I started out with the top and the corset. I actually tried out two different materials for the top before I decided on a third one, the same material as the train would be made of.

Here's a sample of some of the materials I used:

This photo really doesn't do justice to all the sparklies of this material!

 The corset was a bit of tricky business, though. I used an old corset as template and cut out pieces, realising too late that it was cut far too low for my bosom to function properly, let alone look even remotely decent. So, I added an extra piece which also accentuated the sweetheart cut, and allowed me to hide a bra underneath it all, which really helped! The modesty panel in the back had to be redone as well, having miscalculated and made it too small first time around, but finally, it fit and looked as it should!

I moved on to the train that flows from Elsa's corset. Made out of soft and extremely sparkly tulle, it needed no hemming and I could cut freely. Attaching it to the corset was another story all together, however. Though the tulle did have a certain amount of stretch in it, it would not be enough by far to allow for the gap I would need in the back to put the corset on before lacing it. I considered several different options such as using an elastic band, making it somehow detachable, attaching it to the top instead of the corset, but landed on hand sewing the train on to either side of the corset, all the way back to where the lacing began and leaving a lot of material in the back, which I then stitched on around the top lace of the lacing. It allowes for the material to be naturally gathered up when I lace the corset up, and looks pretty good as well! :)

This is how the finished result looks, although I might still add some details here and there:

And I couldn't help but to a bit of photo editing fun stuff: