I have committed a blogging crime. I have neglected my blog for four entire months! Time to get the train back on the tracks.
Before I get any further into this post, I should say that my daughter has changed her online handle. She was ILoveBunnies, but more names similar to hers started cropping up. Since we recently read the Lord of the Rings series and watched the movies, she settled on Galadriel. So that is what I will call her from now on.
After I posted last, Galadriel pointed out quite rightly that I kept saying what sewing we were going to do for the Renaissance Fair, yet we had not started. The start of the fair was only weeks away. We had about eight weeks until the last day of the fair, as it runs on weekends for about 6 weeks in a row.
The task ahead was pretty huge. What we wanted to accomplish was:
- A new blouse to go under Galadriel’s bodice, rather than the peasant-looking chemise with the drawstring neckline.
- New shirt and pants for Bunny-Wan Kenobi, who had outgrown his from the last couple of years.
- A hat to go with Galadriel’s dress.
- Trim on Galadriel’s dress.
- An entire costume for my mom.
- Sock-like wraps of a rough material for my beloved Shay, which would go into his shoes and be held around his legs with laces.
- If time allowed, a costume for me.
I had already waited way too late. Galadriel was right. We had to get started. So we stole Shay’s table from the shed and covered it with a cheap, flock-backed vinyl tablecloth to protect fabric from the rough surface of the table. I unpacked the sewing machine and located the sewing boxes. We found the cutting board and laid it out on top of the freezer.
We had found some black denim draperies and some soft cream sheets at a thrift store, so I pulled those out first and quickly put together a shirt and pants for Bunny-Wan Kenobi. I extended the length of the stride and of the legs of the pants pattern. Really, I should have used a larger pattern, but I didn’t. He’ll probably need another set next year anyway, he’s growing so fast!
On to Galadriel’s blouse. We looked through the costume patterns we had bought at a yard sale a while back. One in particular caught our eye. It was an Elizabethan style blouse in black-gold organza. “I love that material,” Galadriel remarked admiringly, “I wish we could find something like that to make the blouse.”
I agreed, thinking how perfectly it would go under her bodice. And then — something stirred in the deep, cobwebbed recesses of my memory. We had bought a lot of material at yard sales and thrift stores, mostly as curtains and draperies. Hadn’t I bought –?
Without saying anything, I disappeared into my room to excavate the unpacked material boxes. Finally, I found it. Two curtain panels of black-gold organza. It was breathtaking. Woven of black in one direction, with the crossing threads of metallic gold, the fabric was a sheer, shimmery, antique gold.
I brought it out and showed Galadriel. “Something like… this?” Her eyes sprang open and lit up with delight.
So I laid it all out, test-fitting the pattern, making sure I had enough of the fabric to make the blouse and such. Then I ironed it, and laid it out again and began cutting.
What I did not know about organza is that it not only loves to shift around as you are trying to sew it, but it also is some of the most fray-happy fabric I have ever met. I realized quickly that I was going to be learning some new seams. Fully enclosed, finished seams that would not fray.
The blouse took me fully two weeks. I had most definitely started sewing too late.
The lace around the collar and cuffs cost more than the fabric did. I spent $8 on the fabric, which would have cost me about $50 retail, and the antique gold rayon lace was $12 on Etsy ($3/yd). I splurged.
Unfortunately, all the metallic thread ends stuck through the French seams and mock French seams and scratched poor Galadriel to distraction. So I bought brown satin ribbon, and she lined every seam with it, while I continued sewing. She also worked on the trim you see on her bodice, sleeves, and skirt. Yards, and yards, and yards of trim. Which we had thankfully gotten for half price!
She also made her own hat and Mom’s hat, while I worked on Mom’s dress. I neglected to take a lot of pictures during this time, because things were so crazy, but I do have pictures of Mom’s hat.
Galadriel wanted to edge the hat with fur, so I bought a cinnamon-colored pelt for her to use. She did a wonderful job stitching it on!
It was humorous… as I sewed the dress, and Galadriel worked on the hats, we kept having to unthread and rethread the sewing machine. We would each keep trying to beat the other to the sewing machine, so our thread would still be in it, and we wouldn’t have to rethread the machine.
In the end, even Mom ended up hemming her own skirt by feel (as she has no real central vision), while Galadriel and I finished other things. We were up so late the night before the fair!
And what a day we picked, too… cold… humid… windy. It was December by this time, after all, but we sure were hoping for a milder day! We brought coats, but of course we didn’t want to wear them! Who wants to work that hard, only to cover it all up? So we all wore multiple layers, even fleece under our costumes. This made us each look, well, puffy. But at least we made do without coats! We all wished we had Mom’s hat, though… with those built-in rabbit earmuffs!
Shay, being more adaptable to cold then the rest of us, simply wore his great kilt and laced his new, thick stockings over a pair of wool socks. The great kilt has a lot of fabric, which is usually gathered and worn across one shoulder. This can be taken down from the shoulder, ungathered, and used as a coat. So his coat comes built into his costume… he can just choose to use it or not.
Sorry for the graininess… it was dark by the time we got someone to take a picture!
It was funny… I didn’t want to stick out among the rest of the family as the only member without a costume, but I figured I might get some odd looks, being dressed 200 years out-of-phase. Nope! No sooner had we walked into the fair, when a lady in costume pulled me by the arm.
“Let me see… turn around! That is great! You know… most people don’t know that those drop sleeves are historically correct for the Victorian era!”
I hadn’t even said what era I was dressed in, so she obviously knew her fashion history. I held my head high for the rest of the day!
I know you can’t see them very well, but his stockings are made from some nice, rough, (CLEARANCED) upholstery fabric. They tuck nicely into his ghillies — which, since the real ones are out of our budget, are nothing more than some of his old black tennis shoes with the tongues cut out. Two inexpensive packs of 72″ leather laces, a pair per shoe, and he was able to lace them up to his knees, exactly the way they would have been.
I pinned some sheet fabric around his leg and marked it to make the pattern. They are sewn up the back of the leg.
I chose a different picture to upload for Mom’s dress. I took it inside, as we were fitting it, with my cellphone. My cell does not take good pictures, so it’s still grainy. But at least the colors are better than the one from the fair.
The main part of the skirt, as well as the bodice sides, are made from some heavy dark gold twill draperies. The skirt front panel is from an olive green damask tablecloth. The bodice has crushed olive fabric sleeves, with the lace from a few pictures up. The front center panel, back center panels, and the tabs around the waist are all made from a shiny olive table runner with gold vines embroidered on it (you can see it above, in Bunny-Wan Kenobi’s sewing picture). This fabric was dubbed the “Rivendell fabric”, as it resembled some of the elvish fabrics from “The Lord of the Rings”. The copper across the front is from a little satin thing made to go under a vase. All from thrift stores.
Perhaps our biggest compliment of the day came from the entertainment director. We ran into him (not knowing who he was, but he was in costume) as we were nearing the close of the day. He loved our costumes, and asked if we might be interested in joining the cast. We asked lots of questions, and we are considering it.
When we pull everything out this fall, I’ll definitely have to take better pictures! But I shouldn’t be nearly as rushed, since my sewing machine is out and at the ready. I just used it the other day, in fact. I’ve got some sewing projects to work on for the fall, and I can get them done long before they are needed, since I have everything out now.
In spite of the cold, we had a wonderful time at the fair! But once that was over, the rush of time was still upon us. Christmas was coming, and we had more sewing projects to do to prepare for that!
A couple of years ago, when Galadriel and I were first learning to sew, she made a set of red flannel pajamas for her little brother for Christmas. They were so big on him! He adored them, too, but the legs which he used to roll up were now barely to his ankles, and the sleeves which came over his hands now came just a little below his elbows.
Galadriel wanted to extend them for him… and then she struck upon a wild, crazy, insane idea: she would turn them into pajamas that looked like the suit the comic superhero “The Flash” wears. This required making a number of patterns ourselves. We ended up doing the modifications in fleece, because we could not find flannel in a strong enough yellow.
Also, we had a whole set of new flannel pajamas to make for him, for Mom to give him for Christmas. We were up until 6:00 Christmas morning finishing them!
My biggest shock on Christmas was when I opened this little jewelry box from Shay. It contained a note, with a picture of diamonds on it. The note said that it was time for a real one (meaning a diamond).
I wear Shay’s grandmother’s engagement ring. When the family found the ring, the center diamond was missing. Shay didn’t have the money to put a diamond in it at the time, so he put in a gem-quality CZ. All these 22 years, he has wanted to replace it with a real diamond, in spite of the fact that I kept telling him I was perfectly content with my CZ.
But he had gotten a Christmas bonus that would allow him to get me a diamond, and I was getting one. So we found a local jeweler, and he brought out some diamonds and educated us some. He looked at my CZ, which hadn’t sparkled in a long time because I couldn’t seem to get it clean any more. Turned out it wasn’t dirty, it was scratched like crazy! I didn’t realize that CZs were soft. But I definitely wanted my sparkly ring back, so I was really excited about the diamond!
Normally, all this time, I’ve been working on the family calendar. This time, I was too busy even to begin working on it until after Christmas. This year, Galadriel wanted to do the calendar. So I taught her how to use the program. She did an amazing job, and it’s really neat seeing everything from her perspective. Every month has a collection of pictures with captions, and it takes a lot of photo editing and a lot of thought. Tomorrow, we pick them up from the printer who has bound them for us. Yeah, it’s February. *sigh* But it really is like a newsletter, and lets far-away family watch the kids grow up, and lets them see what we’ve been up to for the last year.
Also, we had two family reunions, one of which I needed to make a family tree for. Again, lots of time spent in GIMP, with twelve generations going back to the year 1600, and lots of lines. It’s popular, though… family members ordered 15, and now we’re about to get 6 more printed. Sam’s Club prints 20″ x 30″ posters for under $10 each. So it’s actually affordable.
Finally, RabbitTalk, where I am a Moderator, has undergone a major upgrade and a change of hosting in the last few weeks, and I helped with a good bit of the testing.
SO… now you know my crazy saga! But I finally feel like I can breathe now, and so I’ll be back to posting.