Friday, February 17, 2012

My Little Man

So I mentioned in my last blog post about a certain someone I love. I got to see him today!! I'd like to introduce you to Chivery!

This adorable little guy is a birthday gift from my family. He is 8 weeks old, and he is a Cockapoo (Cocker Spaniel/Poodle mix).

I picked him out a few weeks ago and then today we brought him home. His coloring is called "Red", though I think it looks more tan. :)

Here he is when I picked him out a few weeks ago. He's grown a lot since then! When I picked him out, I couldn't really tell much about his character - there was one little black one who pranced and wanted all the attention, but the other 3 were very calm and "boring". I knew I wanted a tan one, or I probably would have chosen the little black one. But now that I've had Chivery for a whole afternoon, I can tell you that he has plenty of character! He's very playful, but when I put him on my lap and soothe him, he falls asleep for about an hour. Right now he actually fell asleep not on me, which is good. And just for the record - no accidents in the house yet. :)

Haha - in this picture it looks like he has a beard! :)

I suppose I should tell you about his name, since "Chivery" isn't all that common. His full name is actually John Chivery, but I really didn't want to call my puppy by a name that I could end up naming a child. :) John Chivery is a character in one of my all time favorite mini-series, Little Dorrit. He is the son of the turnkey - devoted, tender-hearted, adorable. I want to adopt him. so I did. sort of. :)

Did someone mention the cats? Well, Katjie has seen him, and stared for a while, not quite sure what to make of him. But she's pretty calm now. Gavana hasn't seen him yet, but I'm pretty sure she heard him whining a while ago. I think she'll be staying upstairs for a while. She's stressed anyway from having people in the house while we've been having our bathroom remodeled. But after maybe a month, she'll be fine..... :) She isn't a normal cat. And Jojo, well she's an outside cat, so she'll come in contact with him at some point. Hopefully they'll be friends.

I noticed that these names might all sound a little strange to you. Katjie is a mix between a Russian name and a Dutch name. It means "Little Cat". Gavana is a Russian name (they are both a Russian breed that is hypo-allergenic, since Dad and I are allergic to cats) that the breeder gave her before we got her. And Jojo is black and white, so we thought of naming her Oreo, but that's so common, so we went with the Trader Joe's cookies that are like oreos, but called Joe Joe's. We thought Jojo was a boy (she was a stray), so it used to be Joe Joe, but then we discovered she was a girl, so it became Jojo. 

Okay enough about cats. This blog post is about my puppy.

I'm in love.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

1912 Dinner Gown | Mock-up

I know I promised pictures of the corset, and they will be coming soon. I just need to take them first! :) The corset needed a good washing to get out the markings from the boning casings, and it took me a while to actually bring it upstairs and put it in the washer and hit start. Because that's just so much work, as you know. *winks*

While waiting for our new dryer to arrive (the old one broke) so I could shrink my chemise and petticoat fabric, I started the mock-up of the Titanic gown I'm making. It's based off of Sybil's blue dinner gown (when the Crawley's first come to Downton) from Downton Abbey. I still haven't gotten the fabric for it yet (anyone want to come to Vogue Fabrics with me??), but it will be made of silk, with a lace overlay and a heavily beaded waistband (dreading that part ever so slightly).

I was too lazy to look at all the patterns and find something that I could tweak to make it work, so I decided to do the shorter route (ahem) of mock-up-ing from scratch. *cough* Call me weird. I deserve it. Thankfully it is a very simple design, though I had to check with the seamstress-extraordinaire (a.k.a Lily) about the bodice fitting. From the screen caps, it is very hard to tell how it is fitted, but we went with darts.

If you haven't seen Downton Abbey, and would like to see photos of the real dress, you can look at the photos on my Pinterest Board. It's lightly printed blue dress, with very light overlay-shawl thingy with sleeves and a waistband. You'll see it. :)

Sybil's looks like it has a train that is bustled up in the back. I opted out of the train because I want to be able to dance in this dress with ease, and not with a bunch of material hanging down my back. :) The way I plan to close it is to have the bodice close in the center back, and the skirt have two layers in the back which overlap, so the under panel opens at the opposite side and the overlay panel overlaps the under panel and clips to the side-back seam. Make sense, or did I lose you? That's okay, you'll see photos when it's done. :) The waistband will close with the overlay, and the overlay will probably be draped in some way...have to figure that one out still.

Okay, on with the photos. I'm pretty much done with the first mock-up, except adding the back-overlay panel. I have to make a second one to make sure everything comes out okay and lays smoothly. This one has a few problems still.

I started with two squares measuring 22"x 22". Since it opens in the back, I cut one of the squares in half. Then I sewed them together for the shoulder seams.

Next I cut a small neck-line so I could fit it on the dress form. I did most of the work on the dress-form, and then tweaked it on myself. It's hard to start from scratch and pin onto yourself. I haven't mastered that yet. Thankfully ^she^ loved to be jabbed with pins. :) 

Then I pinned down the center to keep the grain-line straight down the center-front.

...and also down the back. It's slightly overlapped, because it'll be closed with hooks and eyes.

And then the pinning, pulling, etc. started. here I have pinned the side seams and darts.

The back looks weird, but it really did work. :)

Let's cut the neckline! I think I changed it from here, to be a little lower and more "scooped" rather than "squared".

A nice scooped back. Me likey.

And now to make it empire-waist. Here's something I need to change on the new mock-up. I went slightly overboard with the empire waist, and cut it a little too high. So I need to add about an inch to be more 1912, rather than 1812. :)

Side seam

And the front

Here it is all stitched, and with the modified neckline - still slightly squared, but not too much. I had to make it lower so that I can wear my necklace without it overlapping. :) 

The back in serious need of pressing!!

The skirt being pinned on. I accidentally cut the back piece too narrow, so I just sewed some gussets on to get the correct fullness. They won't be in the real dress.

This skirt is fitted around the waist and hips and then gradually gets fuller. A little tricky for one who usually does rectangle panels and pleats them to the waist, but it came out okay.

Working, working, working. Lots of pins are needed for mock-ups.

Mock-up #1 almost completed!!

And the back (yikes it needs ironing!)

Okay, that's all for now. Come back soon for corset pictures (hopefully they'll be taken tomorrow), the chemise in the works, and mock-up #2. Oh, and I'll be posting about a certain someone who I've become quite attached to in the past few weeks.......... :D

EDIT: P.S. Please ignore the creepy multi-colored bear in the back of the photo when I first cut the neckline. Ahem. He likes to sneak into photos when I'm in the basement.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Do You Hear the People Sing?

Last weekend Dad and I stayed up watching the 10th Anniversary Concert of Les Miserables. And I became a complete fan. Wow. It was a.m.a.z.i.n.g. I was up in the clouds for about 2 days after it. We saw the play a couple years ago, when some friends of ours were in it for CYT, but it was my first time hearing all the songs, except I Dreamed A Dream, so I couldn't appreciate it quite as well since it was all new to me. And teens can have great voices, BUT for the most part, more mature voices sound better, especially for the roles of Jean Valjean and Javert.

Ooooooohhhhh.... my. Speaking of Javert. (be still, beating heart). I know you aren't supposed to like the "bad guy" (though I'd hardly call Javert the bad guy - that's another blog post in itself), but he was incredible. I was supposed to be sewing eyelets on my corset while we watched.... but for Javert's solo, "Stars", I just sat with my mouth open, thrill after thrill going through me, with my needle poised in the air. If someone asked me who I'd choose to sing a duet with out of all the famous singers, I wouldn't ask for Michael Buble, or Josh Groban, or Andrea Bocelli, (though that would be really neat too). I would ask to sing with Philip Quast. I don't think anyone can top his performance as Javert, with his amazing voice, and those eyes that speak better than words.

"Empty Chairs At Empty Tables" was so mournful and beautiful, "A Little Fall of Rain" was heartbreaking (I love Lea Salonga's voice), "Master of the House" made me laugh out loud (Alun Armstrong as M. Thenardier was perfect), "I Dreamed a Dream" was desperate and angry, and "One Day More" made me want to stand up and clap with all my might. That song is my top favorite from Les Miserables (though the ending scene is great too). Anyone want to come over and sing it in parts with me??

Okay, I'll stop rambling about how great it was. I just had to do a post about it, because I'm slightly obsessed. :) Any other Les Mis fans out there??

To finish this off... here's the video of Philip Quast singing "Stars" (he isn't stuck-up at the end, he's just staying in the role):

P.S. I guess I talked about it a lot, because my dad sent me this verse to "On My Own" at 1:13am while he was waiting in an airport. I love my daddy!!

On my own, I'm laying in my bed
I can't sleep with les mis in my head
That Javert, his voice just towers above
And Eponine is just amazing as she vows her love.

Friday, February 3, 2012

"Patrick Henry" Details

Fittings, 28 buttonholes, 32 + 19 buttons (long story), linen, more fittings. Yes, it is done. Patrick Henry now has a new outfit! :) 

We've been attending Liberty Day, since I was 11 or 12, and "Patrick Henry" has been wearing the same outfit every year. It was time for a change!

We got the fabric at Joann Fabrics, and it took a long time to find the "perfect" fabric for him. But finally we settled on a green suit coat, a tan waistcoat and chocolate brown breeches. 

I'm so thankful for scrap material! Not having the chance to sew many outfits for gentleman, mock-ups were wonderful! Especially when he has very, very broad shoulders, is rather thin and very tall. :) It was a really fun project, with very few mistakes and a very pleasing result!

I used Butterick #3072 for the suit coat and waistcoat, and Simplicity #4923 for the breeches (don't laugh... I know it's a pirate outfit, but it was the only pattern for fall-front breeches that I could find at the fabric store!). The breeches needed serious adjustments (after all, it is a pirate pattern... what can one expect! *smiles*), but thankfully wasn't too terrible. The waistcoat was fine and all I changed was adding lacing loops in the side seam so it can be adjustable. For the suit coat, I broadened the shoulders, pulled in the waist seam slightly, lined it, and did a 1 1/4" stand-up collar, instead of the pointed flip-down collar. 

The cravat is made of linen, and I completely forgot about it until a couple days ago! Thankfully I had some white linen on hand and was able to whip it up in about an hour and a half (lots of hemming...) and had no problems. I love ripping fabric to get straight lines - it's terribly fun.

Now I'm going to bore you dreadfully with the woeful tale of buttons. I ordered the suit coat buttons from James Townsend and Son, and while waiting for them to arrive, I bought the buttons for the waistcoat and breeches and sewed them all on.... all 19 of them.  That took me the greater part of two days to do all the button holes (once you start doing them by hand there is no turning back. Ever. Especially on a historical outfit.) and buttons, and cravat. I'd do my chores and such, possibly send a quick email, sing/play piano and head down to the basement to watch another episode of John Adams and sew another set of buttons and/or buttonholes. And I got them all on, rejoiced that I only had 13 left on the coat, and then......

...... the order arrived. And they were silver. Bright shiny silver. Not what I was expecting, given the photo on the website which looks decidedly brown-toned. The 19 buttons I had sewn on the waistcoat and breeches looked terrible next to these stunning silver buttons. As my friend Lily says "I like to put blood, sweat and tears into each project." Our basement is very hot in the winter when the heater is going, so I did my fair share of sweating (and stressing.... I nearly always have a stressing stage in each project), and plenty of pin-pricks (there must be a limit to the number of times a person can poke themselves on one garment) and the buttons pretty much completed the tears department, except I didn't actually cry, just got very near it for a second. :) Mom took me to the store and we got 19 new buttons and I sat down once again to rip off those 19 I had just sewn on and put the new ones and the 13 coat buttons on. 

The end of the story is that it all looks very nice now, and the new buttons are nicer than the old ones, even if that did mean a few more hours of work! :) I'm very eager to see it on Patrick Henry while he gives that glorious speech - won't have to wait too much longer now!! :)

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