Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Mad as a Hatter!

If you remember your Lewis Carrol, you know that March hares are as mad as hatters. So here's a hat post, in honor of the last day of March.

I've been working on the pattern for the English gable hood. That's the goofy one that looks like this:

The Gable hood is a surprisingly complex bit of engineering. If you make a simple "roof" shape, the thing looks like a cardboard box sitting on your head. The trick is to cut the frontlet, the border part around the face, with a wider angle than the back piece, so that it flares in the front. But if you cut the frontlet too wide, the whole thing wants to twist and looks terrible. The only way to get this right is to experiment a lot.

One of the things I like best about working with CAD software is that it's so easy to scale drawings. Rather than make full sized mockups, I scale the pattern pieces down to 1/3 size and print them out on card stock. Then I tape them together to test the patterns. This works best for things that are going to be stiff when finished, such as hats.

This has come in handy with all the iterations of the Gable hood I've made. Every little change of angle affects something else, resulting in many trial versions. Here are some of them:

After futzing with them all day, and littering a 20 foot blast radius around my desk with schnibbles of card stock, I think I'm satisfied with this one:

And that's just the undercap. There's still a box piece that fits on the back, the lappets, and two different veil styles. And of course, they need to be embroidered and jeweled.

If that's too much trouble, you could always go with the Margo's Patterns Deluxe Super Presto Easy Version:

What can I say, things get a little punchy around here when we're working hard. I'm not alone in this. Here's our General Manager, Doug, in what he says is a Tudor Baseball Cap:

Happy Springtime!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Court Costume Re-make

I'm selling an costume on Ebay. http://cgi.ebay.com/Stunning-Elizabethan-Renaissance-Gown-Plus-Size_W0QQitemZ230331182262QQcmdZViewItemQQptZLH_DefaultDomain_0?hash=item230331182262&_trksid=p3286.c0.m14&_trkparms=72%3A1730|66%3A2|65%3A12|39%3A1|240%3A1318|301%3A1|293%3A1|294%3A50

It's actually a remake of this mess:

Here it is now.

What a difference. I took the skirt and bodice apart, re-trimmed them, and put them back together. Then it sat around for a few years because I still hated the way it looked on me. I added beads and jewels to the forepart and underskirt, made a new French hood, and wore it for about two hours at a CostumeCon. I finally faced facts that the gold colors just don't work for me. I was planning to make new sleeves and forepart in some other color, when I broke my Ipod, so I decided to spruce it up and put it on Ebay.

I thought that was going to be an afternoon's work. Ha! It ended up being easier to pretty much remake the bodice than it would have been to get rid of the fraying edging. Thank Goodness I still had scraps of the fabric. I added tabs to the waistline, which made a huge difference in the looks. The tabs were cut out of my last remaining scrap, and the largest piece I had left after they were cut was about 1"x2".

We'll see how this does. I have a few more outfits I'll probably never wear again, so maybe I'll get them up for sale, too. Tell your friends!

Blackwork(ish) Fabric!

JoAnn fabrics has a fabric in stock right now that is a pretty good simulation of blackwork embroidery. It's a lightweight cotton, like a batiste, and the embroidery is in lengthwise rows, alternating one that's about 1" across and one that's 1/2".

This fabric could be cut into strips to make collars and cuffs, or you could make an entire smock or shirt out of it. You could also be very Elizabethan correct and stop the embroidery at waist level, using a plain fabric for the lower half.

If you want it, get to JoAnn as soon as possible, because this stuff is flying out of the stores. If your store doesn't have it, they may be able to get it from another store. Here's the SKU number: 128-6889