Georgian Ball in Bath, March 2015

Georgian Ball - Bath March 2015-56

 

It all started innocently enough – I was approached to create a set of Georgian attire for a ball by  new customers, a lovely couple.

We discussed the designs, fabrics , fitting schedule etc, and it was all going smoothly – and then I just had to ask: what ball is it anyway?

And hearing it is the one in Bath, organized by the Bath Minuet Company, we just had to go along and buy tickets….. after all we did enjoy the Regency Ball there a lot! And Eleanor, our friend jumped at the opportunity and joined in – and commissioned a frock too. So suddenly I ended up with having  2 big commissions plus trying to get some time to make Lucas; kit – and maybe there would be just enough time to get mine sorted too – I had my pink robe anglaise, just in case I wouldn’t, but since I got some lovely brocade last November, I did hope to be able to knock something out for myself too.

Eleanor’s set was done first, as she was available for fittings early… After much deliberation on which fabrics o use, Eleanor decided on a crispy mat silk in slate – we had quite a lot of and it went very well with pink roses and gold braid, and the design was loosely based on the robe francaise worn by Mme de Pompadour.

the foundations were first – stays, and pocket hoops in silk!

11071087_10152796612641693_5162306499394685034_n

 

 

then the petticoat, and draping on the francaise –  there was loads of fabric going into it!

IMG_20150322_124526

playing with the trim…

IMG_20150322_143011

the gown and basic trim ready, now just the roses and the stomacher

IMG_20150322_102528

sleeve before pinking – I pined it at the last moment, as although the fabrics didn’t fray much, we wanted the edges sharp for the event:-)

IMG_20150322_182658

decoration on the petticoat – frills, flounces and roses

IMG_20150322_185705

and a very important moment – once the roses were out of the box, Merlin jumped in It was the very first time in the last 3 years when he actually willingly went into a box… weird moggy

 

 

The original commission that started the whole Georgian frenzy was interesting too – a suit of black satin for the gentleman, with an embroidered waistcoat, and a robe anglaise, with the cut away front ( zone front) for the lady. Plus set of undergarments for both.

I especially enjoyed working on the embroidery – with silver metallic tread and silk..

IMG_20150323_164919

IMG_20150323_182445

that frame was an amazing investment. well worth it if you are working on larger pieces

11081253_10152800163291693_3673097835863126261_n

waistcoat ready

10409083_10152800166726693_1656129778362288571_n

the back

 

IMG_20150327_093143

and a frilly shirt

The lady’s kit consisted of a chemise, a pair of stays in silk brocade, skirt supports, skirt in silk satin, with a fringe, and a robe anglaise in striped  silk…

10561573_10152786165431693_4061363373157714735_n

the stays ready

11023890_10152786165496693_900744695051381175_n

detail of the back

IMG_20150326_193350

working on the anglaise – after a rial run with the trim we decided against it. the fabric did not lend itself well to piking and the thing frayed like hell, leaving bits of thread everywhere, especially on the white satin…

IMG_20150326_140211

the back

with just  2 days to spare I  was pressed for time to work on Lucas kit – and our initial plan of using gold and red pinstripe silk ( breeches, waistcoat and jacket) were discarded in favour for some lovely silk taffetta I was hoarding for myself – but  it meant the colour could go with an original waistcoat Lucas already had, so less work… plus, how could I refuse my husband….

As much as I would like to spend days embroidering his jacket, making fancy buttons etc, we were pressed for time so drastic measures had to be taken – Lucas decided on a  posh modern trim instead. Looks correct and although makes the kit more of a theatre costume than re-enactment piece, for the ball it worked just fine..

IMG_20150327_183601

 

And then with just  8 hours to spare, I had a go at my robe francaise.  I had just enough fabrics to get a francaise and petticoat in it, though not enough for any decoration  and I even had to piece  one sleeve and the flounces. I do love the fabric, and I was very lucky to get it at a reduced price – I payed £40 a metre instead of the usual £75 or so). The ladies at the Sudbury Silk Mill where I got it from said it was because of a fault running through the length, but since I could barely see it, i did not mind at all.

IMG_20150327_164659

work in progress

 

And it turned out I had just enough some matching taffeta from my stash to work a trim – paired with a chenille braid:-)

IMG_20150327_210403

 

With just a few bits left to be stitched  later on ( buttons) we were ready – and fortunately our wigs, ordered quite late from the States ( from Historical Hairdresser) arrived with a few days to spare!

The day of the ball was full of mishaps…. first  I woke up with laringitis – voice gone completely….. Then,  1 hour into the drive we realised that Lucas’ lovely waistcoat is still at home….. so had to turn back… Then Bath was clogged up with roadworks and traffic jams. Luckily we were just in time to check into the hotel, get dressed and rush to the dance practice…

IMG_20150328_142440

Eleanor at the dance practice, minding our hats… and boots…

IMG_20150328_151336_edit

after the practice, waiting for transport… surprisingly enough my redingote worked quite well as an extra layer over the anglaise

IMG_20150328_152644

Hotel elevators…. barely big enough for 2…

 

We had a few hours before the ball, so we finished last minute jobs, had a meal and started getting ready. 90 minutes before our carriage was supposed to arrive – and yes, carriage – we booked proper horsey transportation from Courtyard Carriages–   the company called us saying they cannot do it, giving a rather feeble excuse. considering that we booked them  with over a month before, that as a bit of a blow – so folks, if you are ever tempted to book a carriage in bath, Do NOT use them!

Still, we though, we will take a cab.  WE will need a bigger one, to accommodate all the frockage, and so a suitable vehicle was booked, using a dedicated hotel line to a cab company.

But alas – when we got into the lobby, there was not a car to be found…. finally, after 8 calls from us, the hotel etc, and lots of excused on the  side of the cab company, they sent us a car – 50 minutes after the agreed time! needless to say, we were not in the least amused – we basically missed most of the first half of the danceo not remember the name of the company, but if you are in the Travelodge Waterside, do not use the cabs line  there – the hotel staff was very helpful, and it was not their fault, it was purely that the company were managed by an incompetent prat.

 

Still, an hour late, we made it…..

We had a lovely time dancing, chatting, taking photos, doing more dancing and admiring the dance demonstration from the Minuet company – and so the evening went ahead smoothly ( though on my part rather quietly – still no voice – some may argue it was a blessing, especially considering the mishaps – a lot of very bad language would have otherwise occurred…)

Lucas grabbed some photos too – enjoy!

first, the results of all that stitching….

Georgian Ball - Bath March 2015-23

Kelly and Glen in their finery

Georgian Ball - Bath March 2015-58

Georgian Ball - Bath March 2015-60

 

then Eleanor…

Georgian Ball - Bath March 2015-53

 

Georgian Ball - Bath March 2015-21 Lucas…

Georgian Ball - Bath March 2015-46

Georgian Ball - Bath March 2015-66

 

and me:-)

Georgian Ball - Bath March 2015-40 Georgian Ball - Bath March 2015-26 Georgian Ball - Bath March 2015-34

 

And a few group shots too…

Georgian Ball - Bath March 2015-45

here discussing programme for our Victorian ball with our dance master – Stuart Marsden

 

Georgian Ball - Bath March 2015-51

Georgian Ball - Bath March 2015-54

Georgian Ball - Bath March 2015-63

 

and a few of the dance demo

Georgian Ball - Bath March 2015-5 Georgian Ball - Bath March 2015-1

 

 

and some outtakes….

Georgian Ball - Bath March 2015-33

my usual face…

Georgian Ball - Bath March 2015-13

Georgian Ball - Bath March 2015-49

 

all together, it was a success and we will gladly come back again:-)

The next day saw us at the Assembly Rooms, meeting with Stuart and the  caterers and discussing our Victorian ball in May –  so looking forward to  it too!

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Spanish Death Ride, Valencia 2008

COMUNIDAD/// Cabalgata de homenaje a Jaume I   A bit of a blast from the past – but I stumbled upon the pictures and realised tat I hadn’t blogged about this ‘traumatic experience’ yet; ( mostly because back then I did not have a blog…) Anyway, the story…  The event was set up to re-create the famous civic parade that took place in 1428,celebrating the visit of king James I. Griffin Historical  were  given the mammoth task of organizing  it and supplying riders and ground crew. Over 80 riders and support crew were flown from different parts of Europe – England, the Netherlands, Poland,  etc – and the cavalcade itself  counted over twelve hundred people in total, all in medieval gear… We arrived the day before the event  – most of us were picked up at the airport and deposited in two major hostels in Valencia’s Old Town.  Many of us knew one another quite well – from past events, jousting circle, and other historical and equestrian backgrounds, ( I also brought a friend from my  ECW regiment – not everybody had medieval kit, but many people shared what they had in order to get the look). We just had time enough to go for a walk, admire some fireworks and visit a few tapas bars… DSC00722 DSC00731

DSC00736

practicing before the event…. on little wooden horses…

The next morning we all breakfasted, assembled  and were briefed, then the kit was sorted out – we put on our hose, chemises, doublets, boots etc… And since I was a bloke for this event,  Griff  placed me in a nice padded gambeson, hiding my womanly flesh, and I got a nice piece of headgear too…. DSC00738   Can you see that it is a woman hiding in there? :-) DSC00737 A perfect disguise… Then  it was time to do some dry training, (not mounted). The  folks who were to ride in full armour had arrived a few days earlier and practiced with the horses, so they had a vague idea of what to expect – there were 15 fully harnessed knights, quite a sight! The rest of us were blissfully ignorant, but we had fun discovering our duties… Like marching up in down the training grounds, with long pikes, practicing formations… n796310536_4391791_2308   After hours of that, we had a quick break ( siesta!) and  then it was time….. In the centre a huge tent was erected – huge to house about 100 horses and people…. and that’s where we waited…   n1127359090_30157280_7190   and waited some more…. n1127359090_30157278_6584   …and then suddenly it was time to meet the horses and mount up.   Yeeesss, about that…….

n796310536_4391790_1981

After initial panic, we were shown the proper mounts…

It turned out that quite a few of the supplied mounts that were brought in were supplied by third parties – from outside of the town. Indeed , as I learnt later, many of them were seeing a town for the first time ever – and it was quite evident. They were lovely horses – many of them stallions, many spooked by the unfamiliar surroundings. It didn’t help that many of the riders were beginners, too – since all we had to do was to sit and walk,  no trotting or cantering,  Griff’s team had to match their abilities to the horses. As it happened, I was busy helping people to mount up, and when the time arrived  for me to get a pony, there were only two left in the tent – a nice chestnut and a lovely gray. There were three people standing next to the chestnut, and none with the gray – good, I thought! so I grabbed the handsome beast and led him out.  Only to learn the reason why he was left alone –  once outside, he completely freaked out, rearing and panicking, impossible to mount up. Nicky, ( who was doing a sterling job of organizing the mounting chaos and helping folks out), just looked and told me to forget it, he won’t do, sorry, I will have to walk. Well, I didn’t fly all the way there to just to walk! In the end, Nick led the horse toward me, standing on a mounting block, and I sort of jumped on en route… and then the fireworks started… After a few hairy moments  of dancing, prancing etc, the horse calmed down and was ok :-) n1127359090_30157286_9053   Everybody was mounted and we slowly started making progress towards the start of the cavalcade… the steps first though… 2   In the meantime, the weather took a turn for the worse – it started to rain… As a result, ( I think), we were not given any pikes to hold; ( I was very grateful for that, the moment I saw the narrow alleys and slippery cobbles)… Immediately after we started,  problems started to pop up –  there is no Health and Safety over there, it seems – the public was just next to us, next to the slipping, kicking, biting stallions, and bless them, ( the public, not particularly the stallions), they were fearless, especially the kids. Everybody wanted to pat the horses…  Our ground crew, both Griff’s staff and local folk were a great help – trying to calm don panicked horses, shield the public from the riders, and calm down the riders who suddenly decided that it wasn’t their idea of fun and wanted off, now. My horse was doing OK, despite shying and prancing a bit, he wasn’t rearing and bit my  support crew bloke only once – So I felt reasonably safe on board. The bloke in question, a weathered chap of about 60, named Jose was not only helpful, but talkative and  so we struck a conversation in my halting Spanish.  He was the source of my information about where the horses came from, ( mostly farms and gypsy encampments, according to him), and  about the festival.

2927822326_06edf6ab20

here I am, on my pretty gray pony – he did turn out ok in the end:-)

For me the cavalcade was proving fairly uneventful – stressful, yes, but not nerve wracking. Others were not so lucky… The rain meant the ground was very, very slippery – be prepared, some disturbing photos below.  Just let me say that none of the horses were injured in their falls, ( a miracle, surely!) and the riders escaped mostly  unscathed too :-) 1223576377137 1223576377227 1223623987888   It does look awful –  but all the horses who fell, did get up and continued the parade. They did not even panic, bless them. Apart from a couple incidents like these, it  all went fine… 0070 0035 0022 1223576308746 COMUNIDAD/// Cabalgata de homenaje a Jaume I 1223580919773__t3a3889 1223581828964__t3a4029   The cavalcade was cut about an hour short due to the deteriorating weather conditions, so we missed the fireworks (just as well), and made our way back to the tent, where we dismounted, (many with an audible sight of relief!) We thanked our mounts and left them with their carers/owners… Duty done, time to party  – well, at least food was first on the agenda, we were starved! There was some entertainment too:

n796310536_4391795_3647

Armour makes a great drumming instrument…. for many drummers it seems!

DSC00741

a tad wet… I got even wetter later ( if that was possible) bu disappearing into a flooded manhole – only my reflexes saved me from disappearing for good – but fortunately i managed to spread my arm s wide and grab the edges, and the guys dragged me out. next day we wet to see what it was – it turned out there were some serious roadworks going there, and during the day the site was covered by planks… i guess the food carried off the plans and there was no indication that the street was dug up, especially when you are going knee deep in rainwater….

In in the meantime the weather turned to be of the ‘tropical downpour’ variety… n796310536_4391797_4264   We had to make our way back to the hostels – needless to say we were drenched…. DSC00739   The hostels were flooded too, but nothing we couldn’t deal with :-) but all evening party plans, ( we were going to hit a salsa club or two),  were cancelled. The city was flooded too, the streets turned into rivers, cars being swept away – and so hostel based entertainment had to suffice, ( chatting mostly and reliving the experiences of the day). The next  day dawned clear and most of the flooded drained away overnight – so I ended up on a romantic walk around the old town, then back to the hostel to check out. Our flight  was in the evening , so  our small party had some time for sightseeing –  we ended up admiring the town, drying our  clothes,  eating, resting, buying Valencian lace (me, mostly…), and socializing.  The flight back was uneventful – though  there were some scenes of distress at the weighting in of the luggage – water soaked gambeson weighs much, much more than a dry one…. Some paid up the price, some wore theirs on the flight…   The whole event was, well, ‘interesting’ is a mild way of putting it! It was stressful,  exhilarating, scary,  and fun –  and I would do it again!  Alas,  it  was a one off, it seems. Still, that 2 hours of a walking taught me a lot about horse riding, dealing with stress, wet surfaces, public etc – so some learning took  place :-)   Hope you enjoyed reading the bit – I enjoyed re-living it again!   P.S. the pictures of the cavalcade were taken off the news websites shortly after the event – if any of you know the sources, photographers etc, I would appreciate help with tracing them back :-)

Fashion photoshoots in Lapland

Finnish Fashion Shoot-50

At last a holiday! Our first proper adventure since our honeymoon over three years ago – so long overdue. and since   it as tropics last time, we knew this time it will be somewhere colder.

In the end we we chose an Arctic Adventure  in the Muotka Wilderness lodge – and we didn’t regret it! The  holiday snaps will be put into a separate post with all the details, but suffice it to say, we did lots of interesting stuff – skied, snowshoed,  mushed a husky team, drove snowmobiles, rode in reindeer sled, seen the Aurora and ate lovely food.

but apart from that, I managed to scramble a few outfits together to photograph – and since somehow the cold climate spoke East to me, I went Manchurian – and Russian. The inspiration board  is here.

Time to make the clothing was one thing – the cost and weight another – it needed to be light, and made from the materials from the stash…. a bit of a challenge, but not much!

The Manchurian inspired set was the first, and the least trouble to create. I already had silk trousers and long kaftan in silk from my Steampunk Mulan( Steampunk Amazones), so all i needed to make was a warm wool kaftan – and i wanted it to be something i would be able to wear not just for a shoot, but as a garment.

In the end, I ended up with a dark aubergine wool, with lots of trimming, including a fur trim, and a belt. Topped with my Varengian hat, it served the purpose well… the hairclips are by The Colorful world of Kanzashi

Finnish Fashion Shoot-16

Finnish Fashion Shoot-5

Finnish Fashion Shoot-2

Finnish Fashion Shoot-22

Since the snow was quite deep, getting  into places could be challenging…. a short video here

Next was a formal Russian gown with a kokoshnik – all in silk, with silver lace. Fun to wear, though it does feel like wearing a silky tent :-)

Finnish Fashion Shoot-34

Finnish Fashion Shoot-35

Finnish Fashion Shoot-42

Finnish Fashion Shoot-44 Finnish Fashion Shoot-45 Finnish Fashion Shoot-48

  It turned out that modern skidoo and a modern down jacket were not bad accessories :-)

Finnish Fashion Shoot-39

And the last look was a traditional Russian sarafan – garment that was worn for several centuries, especially amongst the countryside folk, and in all its simplicity and elegance remained in style since about 13th century – till well into the 19th… cut and styles changed a bit overtime, but basically it was a  dress work with shoulder straps over a long, often embroidered chemise. Worn with a headdress ( kokoshink for married women, scarf or similar for unmarried), the style is simple, but effective.

Here I had neither time, nor inclination to embroider a chemise, so I got mine from a lovely Ukrainian lady from etsy – made  bespoke, it arrived promptly, and was absolutely  stunning – her facebook page is here, and her etsy shop here – well work a look if you like the style, prices are very affordable too!

The kokoshnik  I could make myself – but I saw a lovely one on a page  Creations by Liv Free – and simply had to get it for the photoshoot! The artist was very accommodating, and the kokoshnik was amazing – I think it is still for sale in her shop

The sarafan was made out of some stock fabric, blend of wool and cotton – lovely weight and flowing stuff, but not best to sew in – so i ended up sewing all the decorations by hand… 2 braids were used to decorate it, and I think this look is by far my favourite one!

Finnish Fashion Shoot-50

Finnish Fashion Shoot-52

Finnish Fashion Shoot-58

I was even made to work – towing a block of ice!

Finnish Fashion Shoot-57 Finnish Fashion Shoot-56

and that’s the height of the snow banks….

Finnish Fashion Shoot-66

Hope you liked the wintery scenery – I must say I enjoyed the shooting immensely, but was glad it was not too cold – only minus a few degrees, so nothing major! :-)

Makeover photoshoot with Iberian Black Arts

izabela1a

 

This was the last bit of the Geisha collection ( Part 1  and Part 2), and already drifting towards a Chinese or Manchurian influence.  I had enough good-quality Chinese satin brocade, (proper silk stuff, not the poly/viscose thing, for a change!) to make a skirt, corset and a little bolero jacket. And since I knew that  Threnody in Velvet, who modeled a part of the collection, is not only an amazingly gifted model but a talented photographer and make up artist, I decided to book a little makeover session with the other side of her business, Iberian Black Arts … and I wasn’t disappointed!

geisha1

Threnody … I know i have posted the image before, but – I cannot get enough of it! :-)

 

So a date was set, and I  put some time aside to actually make my outfit. And as luck would have it, I ended up with an emergency commission instead – so had just a day to make something wearable…..

The corset was first – and from the start I regretted the choice of fabric.. the satin frayed like a mad, fraying thing, it wrinkled, moved, had a life of its own. It was too late to get fusible interfacing, so had to just get on with it and relay on roll-pinning and pure luck – and hoped the cat wouldn’t mind the amount of bad language that issued forth during the production…

IMG_20150209_142047

I do mind, you know…. foulmouthed creature!

In the end, success was just partial, I didn’t  manage to get rid of all the wrinkles, but since it was not an item for sale I decided to leave it as it was and maybe trust the power of Photoshop….

On the day  I grabbed the outfit, accessories etc – and since I was asked to bring another outfit just in case we had time to shoot more I packed  my ‘snow queen’ gear too…

On arrival at Patricia’s studio we did not waste much time and got straight down to business.  That is, I was munching on my sandwich whilst we were  just getting the final details of the make up and hair – I had set up a board for inspiration, so we looked through different photos to get a clear idea of the styling.

The calm scene before we started…

IMG_20150210_145440

 

Make up and hair took a bit of time, but not too much – and it was time well spent on a pleasant chatter, as well as deciding on some editing options, etc, and then it was time to  don the gear, lace up and pose!

One important thing to mention beforehand – I am not a big fan of over the top post-production (Photoshopping, etc). I mentioned this, giving examples of what I definitely didn’t want –  I wanted my body to stay the way it was, with no reduction etc,  and  my face basically unchanged as well –  I often see the results of the popular boudoir make overs where  ladies are virtually unrecognizable in the final image. This is fine if you are working on a product shoot ( though even here I tend to have problems with overphotoshopped models setting impossible standards), but not really for a personal image –  everybody who knows me will just chuckle at a weird attempt to look much younger and much slimmer, and so I asked for minimal amount of post production. This is actually also why I chose Iberian Black Arts –  the images  showcased  in the portfolio were a  high quality ones, but not overly ‘over the top’.

And to be honest – the make up and the light worked wonders on their own…. well, see for yourself below……

 

After we finished shooting, I got the proofs the same day and chose the images I liked most, for editing. We discussed background options for both looks and the rest was just Patricia working her magic….

The  Chinese look ( with a spectacular yellow kanzashi made especially  for the shoot by Kikuya Kanzashi )

izabela1a

 

izabela2

 

 

and the Snow Queen one…

izabela1a1

 

snow

 

By comparison, see the uneditted  behind the scenes shots – three of the proofs, straight off the camera, showing me having some fun…:

IMG_0333

 

IMG_0307

standard pose for all my shoots….

IMG_0290

 

 

As you can see  the skin tone was smoothed and lightened to work with the  styling for the image, the corset wrinkles magically disappeared, but it is still recognizably me, my body with slightly glamorized face. Happy with that:-)

 

Altogether, I must say I was delighted with both only the experience and the end product – highly recommended – If any of you folks would like to have a go at a makeover with Patricia ( Ipswich based), do give her a call, you won’t be disappointed – and the prices are good too! I found it a great way  to showcase my work as a designer and maker, and have a bit of a girly fun as well – so work and play combined :-)

 

 

 

 

Geisha Corsetry Collection part 2

geisha1

 

As promised  in Part 1 – we are now happy to present the 2 other corsets from the collection, modeled by  the exquisite Threnody in Velvet, and photographed by Iberian Black Arts.

The first of the corsets was in fact the first to be designed – and was also the most challenging one as for the first time I was making  it completely from the scratch – not using and adapting other patterns, but actually designing piece by piece, hoping it would all work together:-)

 

The initial design with different  silk choices… I wanted to convey the traditional aspect of geisha but with a strong modern twist, including the bondage element as well – think sexy bondage manga and you will more or less see where I was planning to head…. :-)

IMG_20141201_131253 - Copy

 

I  used my wasp waisted mannequin to get the shape of the pieces right – it is not too far off  Threnody’s measurements, so it was a useful tool. once the pieces worked on the dummy, I made a mock up in plain coutil, boned it and sent it to Threnody to try on and mark any problem areas etc – since she specialises in corsetry modelling, she was able to provide a valuable feedback – a great help!

IMG_20141230_130043 - Copy

mock up on the dummy

10690209_839524506091259_1226885497960107340_n

mock up on Threnody, with the improvement suggestions clearly marked

 

 

IMG_20150109_115649

 

Once I received the mock up with the corrections back, I was able to implement them  and change them a bit and start making the thing for real…

I was again due for our bitch and stitch sessions with Julia from Sew Curvy, so took it with me – and Julia’s suggestions and input helped a lot when we were considering minor changes in design.

Then the work started in earnest…

IMG_20150109_145547

drawing out the pieces

IMG_20150109_152915

cutting out

IMG_20150109_155146

sewing the front exterior channel onto the sheer

IMG_20150109_163542

getting there….

IMG_20150109_181649

the innards showing the hip gores

IMG_20150110_105000

the boning channels are on….

IMG_20150110_104935

binding, boning and suspender next….

 

Once the inside was tidies up, the suspenders were added ( with a decorative Japanese buttons) and the corset was flossed with  yarn – the flossing character chosen here was a kanji symbol meaning ‘red’.

IMG_20150228_132118 IMG_20150228_132124 IMG_20150228_132210

Next were the posture collar, reflecting the design of the corset, and the pasties – it was my first go at the pasties, but was pretty please with them – they are made out of leather, silk and the edges are decorated with a chemille braid.

IMG_20150119_171557

work in progress –

 

 

IMG_20150119_173257

ready!

 

Then the whole set, including satin ribbons for the wrists and kanzashi flower for the hair was packed and sent on to Threnody.

On the day of the shoot we discussed accessories,  hair and make up styles and I got the first proof the very same day – and once I chose the photos I wanted,  Threnody ( yes, she is also the photographer, editor, make up artist – you name it! a very talented lady!) worked on a suitable background options and credits font etc.

and the results – well, I loved the pictures – and I hope you do too!

geisha1

Geisha3

geisha6

geisha5

 

The corset is now back from its adventures and is available on sale in our online shop – and i think a few more of the same design will be appearing there  at some point too :-)

 

The other corset was already half made when due to a sudden change of plans I had to remake it, and make it fit Threnody –  this one was a sheer number with the front panel and exterior boning channels made in  vibrant kimono silk. as accessories, I made a matching set of vambrances:-)

IMG_20150119_180536

IMG_20150119_182555

 

And the corset  was ready:-)

IMG_20150228_132759

IMG_20150228_132815

 

Again, it look great on Threnody, and the colours suited her exceptionally well!

 

geisha2

geisha4

  This corset already sold – as I write it is making  its way to Hong Kong:-)

 Btw, the kanzashi flowers used here were by Colorful world of Kanzashi.

 Hope you have enjoyed my little forray into the ethnic inspired corsetry –  and, not surprisingly, I have another collection planned for the summer, with a completely different part of the world being represented:-)

 

Hussar style corset

 

 

Hussar Corset-35

 The inspiration struck  when I was making a Napoleonic set  for a client –  a thing with loads of braiding, military lace etc. Against all odds, I enjoyed making it ( and a post on that one can be found here) and thought that it would be nice to have something like that for myself….  And then I remembered artwork of a Polish artist, Bartek Drejewicz and his Napoleonic pin up girls ( do check his facebook page out,  – not only Napoleonic but different armies through the centuries, beautifully rendered!). And yes, there are Steampunk corsets with military styling etc available – but non actually using the ‘proper’ military lace or specific historical styling… So I wanted to have a go….

10255715_616226248468711_2867767774444041898_n 10366068_644974078927261_4483094348385408243_n

 

The final design was actually worked out one evening when I was clearing my offcuts and left overs bits – and noticed narrow scraps of the broadcloth i used for the jacket.  Not good for much more, but  just enough for corset panels…  I quickly adapted an overbust pattern to work as a waistcoat – with  a black busk in front and lacing in the back. It did come out a tad short ( not enough fabric) but the first step was done – a waistcoat in broadcloth, cotton twill being used as the strength layer.  I opted for a slight curve and not much of a reduction – so that  I would be able to wear it at work at the markets- but also because it was the trial version:-)

IMG_20140915_143023

 

I ordered more military lace and braid and once it arrived i started putting the lace on – it took me a few months as was working on it  in between commissions….

IMG_20140916_101302

So even with help ( ahem…) it took some time….

IMG_20140917_094027

 

Once the frogging was on, I could put some silver soutache on the borders and the collar….

 

IMG_20141203_231126

 

Then it was only getting some buttons ( beads….) and we were ready for shooting!

Hussar Corset-39 Hussar Corset-40

 

I tried the corset first with my Regency chemisette and plain black leggings….

Hussar Corset-11

 

Hussar Corset-4

Hussar Corset-14

Then I had an epiphany and fished out Lucas’s  dancing breeches  – in lovely white superfine. The just about fitted too! Then e had some fun with my old cavalry sabre as a prop:-)

Hussar Corset-22

Hussar Corset-27

Hussar Corset-32

Hussar Corset-38

 

The chemissette, in case anyone asks :

 

Hussar Corset-41

 

The conclusions – well, loved wearing it ( and wore it to markets since) but a few improvements will be needed for the next  ones –  longer in front, more hip spring, and probably not using busks and frogging together – it is a pain to do it all up! Still, I think it is a success – and  more corsets in the style are planned, in different colours – already have a small stash of silver and gold military lace and braid, and am slowly collecting fabrics and props – I suspect we will have a bigger photoshoot with  more models ( and hopefully horses) just before Waterloo :-) Once the next models are done, will post a link here – including a link to the shop as they will be offered  on sale….

IMG_20150215_104205

 

Hope you liked this  experiment!

 

Credits:

Clothes, as always, Prior Attire

photography Pitcheresque Imagery

 

 

Corsets!

A damsel in this dress:

A nice write on our visit to Cambridge last week :-)

Originally posted on Cambridge LadyBirds WI:

When planning the programme for 2015 we wanted to ensure that at least a couple of months were dedicated to remembering the WI centenary and got us thinking a little bit more about the ladies who would have been attending meetings 100 years ago. In the first of the centenary themed meetings, we welcomed Izabela Pitcher from Prior Attire, an accomplished historical costumer, corsetière and historical interpreter to talk to us about the fashions of 1915 and what ladies undergarments looked like. In addition we welcomed Lucas, Izabelas husband who is a fabulous photographer from Pitcheresque Imagery to take some pictures of all the fun! Both came attired in Edwardian day-wear and very fine hats!

1

We learnt about the underpinnings worn by our Edwardian counterparts. Corsets in particular have been worn by women for over 500 years and have changed a lot in that time. By 1915 corsets had started…

View original 474 more words

A queen on a budget, please…..

A91C9169

‘I need an Anne  Boleyn dress… my budget is £300.  Can you provide the fabrics? ‘

‘I need a complete posh 15th century outfit ( hose, doublet, gown, hat),  historically accurate, silk and linen, hose in wool.  I can spend £250.’

‘Can you do a posh Victorian for £320? can add another £40 if you make a corset too.’

‘ I want a duchess gown, stays and underpinnings for a ball – how much would it be? I have about £280 to spend on the project’

‘ I found this steampunk coat on ebay,  I want one just like that, but in different wool, with silk lining, and made bespoke – can pay £100. ( the picture of the coat was attached – and I found it online too…. it was a Karen Miller , offered for £200  = should still be seen here.’

These quotes  are direct lines from many of the inquires  I get – and many similar ones abound too, and I suspect there are a lot of other costumiers who get them. And it doesn’t really matter that the price guide is on my website and facebook page, plainly visible to anyone,  stating plainly how much labour is for a specific item. and if you look, you will see that the labour for , let us say, doublet, gown and hose will amount to more that £250 and that’s not even including the fabrics. People look, add, decide it is too much and go and find a hire service or make things themselves. And that is fine – if you need a fancy dress for a night, you wouldn’t be spending hundreds on it –  but get something cheap  on ebay, make stuff for yourself and have some fun with it, or ask a sewing friend a favour ( backed by gin and chocolate, usually… :-))

But some people, knowing the labour prices still email me asking if I can make the same things  at a quarter ( or less) of their usual value… why? I had no idea, until 2 ‘prospective clients’ answered that question  for me.

‘ I know it is much less that you usually charge, but at least you will have some work from me’

Well…. at least it was straightforward… Needless to say that sometimes their offer would not even cover the cost of the materials – and so I would be actually spending time working at a loss.    also, needless to say, it assumes i am sitting here twiddling my thumbs, desperate for anything to do, whereas I am usually booked for 6 months in advance….

It would be an equivalent to me saying to a baker: ‘Here are 3 eggs and some icing sugar, you provide the rest and I want you to make me a 3 tier wedding cake, please’. Nobody does that, so why people assume costumiers ( or jewellers,  corsetieres or generally small businesses) are any different?

I had a good think and I  think there are a few reasons for it….

1. People simply apply the ‘fancy dress’ label  to all unusual clothing, and think the prices are the same as the Chinese mass produced medieval/victorian/edwardian/lotr  garb. Very often it is not badly meant –  nowadays very few of us have things made bespoke as we can get good quality clothing  from the local store.  Occasion wear items are exceptions  wedding dresses etc), but otherwise, we are no longer used to  commissioning gear to be made for us.

2. Also, cheap, easily available clothing leads us into the illusion that all clothing is cheap.  The wool coat in M&S is £50 –  but if I am to make it, the £50 will cover maybe the fabrics. The time used to research, communicate with the client,  measuring and fitting sessions, patterning and making the garment would be all on top of that… But we are simply used to mass produced items ready to wear and have no idea ow much individual raw materials cost. May also have no knowledge of how much work, expertise, research and experience actually goes into the item.   Not really surprising since we are no longer taught specific crafts at school. Also, we don’t know how much quality fabrics cost…

3. People forget that  they are also paying for the years of research, training, experience – and the uniqueness of the item. There are thousands of costumiers – but only very few specializing in historical   items. also, the garments will be one of a kind –  so a rarity value should also be considered.

4. For some reason people are convinced that small businesses are forever tittering on the verge of collapse and are desperate for any work at all. And although running a small business successfully means a lot of work and commitment, and it is not all plain sailing,  I don’t think I know of any quality artisans ( and I do know quite a few) who would not be busy. Yes, sometimes the business gets slack, but that’s when many guys work on the basic stock –  things that will sell at some point, whether at markets or on etsy, ebay or self hosted online shop. Those who do take commissions that don’t cover the materials, in hope of a bit of cash usually learn that in most cases, it is much more profitable to decline – and spend the time on a stock items or a showpiece that will be far more beneficial to the business in the long term. And if  cash is desperately needed, well then we do flashsales:-)

I think the above are the most  common reasons why we get so many request  for the ‘royalty on budget’. People see The Tudors or White Queen and want a dress for their Halloween party –  not realizing I am not the person who caters for such items.

It is slightly better in the established re-enactment ( though  even there  it seems there is an alarming number of wannabe queens, duchesses, princes and kings wanting  royal kit for a few quid… ) as people realise that  if you want re-enact nobility, there will be a suitable price tag  attached. In the past a good quality, showy outfit to impress your peers at court would often cost several months of middle class salary, and although  times changed, they haven’t changed that much – silk and cloth of gold may be more accessible and cheaper – but still beyond the means of most people.  And to be honest, you can make a good quality kit middle class  in decent wool and linen or cotton – it will look lovely and though it is not the cheapest thing ever, it will serve its purpose while you save up for the brocaded cloth…..

There are a lot of arguments floating about, how a polyester silk will look quite as good – and they cannot afford silk/handmade etc, so it will have to suffice.   Well, it may be harsh – but if you cannot afford the king’s outfit ( with all the trappings it needs, jewelry etc), than maybe  start with a simple soldier’s kit instead and climb the social ladder – many people do exactly that and  it takes years of saving to get higher class kit – but many stay at the middle class too, for a variety of reason – and to be honest portraying a medieval farrier or an Elizabethan gardener is just as interesting and complex as a queen…

Obviously, lots depends on the purpose of the garment – if you need to for living history, educational displays and events, it simply needs to be correct fabrics, cut, finish etc, no matter what class you re-enact.  If you participate in battles and nobody is likely poking at the seams of your doublet and fingering your collar, you may be able to get some money saving short cuts. And if you  need a gown for a fancy ball, a social gathering, a photoshoot  – simply an item you’ll love to wear  – well, you can use whatever is suitable and you can afford – and produce stunning results with minimal costs:-)

There are a few shortcuts if you need/want a flashy outfit though, even if you want it made correctly and in correct fabrics:

*Save up! obvious, really, but there it is…. designate one  source of savings a month or a week and it will happen –  go our to dinner once less,   buy less modern stuff you don’t actually need all that badly – or even simpler – set up a separate saving account and put an deposit there every month, deducted from your salary straight away 0 you won’t notice this much, and whether it is a £20 a month, £10 a week or £100 a fortnight, it will soon amount to a neat little sum.

*take small steps…   you can often add on things to enrich your stature ( and clothing) in time.   opt for a woolen doublet and gown, add handmade braid on it or embroidered cuffs a few months later…. Also – buy bodice, but apply lace, braid decoration yourself

* Sell the items you don’t use any more….

* sell your products – and have one sale a month that goes straight into he new kit fund…

*barter – either skills or products. You make wooden pattens but a doublet is beyond you – talk to the costumiers who re-enact, many are happy to barter  things like that.  Your shoemaker needs driving tuition? a plumber? you’d be surprised how many  things can be arranged this way….

*pay in installments – most businesses welcome the solution.

*learn to sew….. yes, may take time and investment in machinery or courses – but will pay off in the long run.  Even if your sills wont go beyond a simple chemise or a cap – you are already saving some money

* buy ready made items – often stock items are cheaper,  often quite a lot cheaper than bespoke items. If you find an items at a market or online that you know is of good quality and it fits you – grab it, will  be much cheaper  than ordering the same items bespoke ( then you pay for the time, fittings, individual patterning etc too )

* Hunt bargains! go to markets to look out for bargain  quality fabrics – you can often save up to 50%  on the fabric – and usually this is the factor that drives the price of the costume up.

And as  I was often asked at how much different outfits cost – let us have a little display of different pieces and their prices…. more info on how much to charge can be read in the blog on running a costuming business

12/13 century gown, middle class:

cover

Gown in  wool, lined with linen, all handstitched and hand embroidered – value £500

1000867_494890623918999_2103579629_n

gown for a queen – in silk, with silk bands and girdle, lined in silk –  with a kirtle in silk too. Labour (machine and hand finish) and materials  £600 – £700. Together with   the accessories – shoes, jewellery, crown etc, = well over £2000

LJP_5908

Middle class kirtle and gown in wool – £300

LJP_4758

Wealthy merchnat’s wife kit – kirtle and gown in wool, gown lined in linen with fur trim – £400

LJP_4930

Lady/high status gown in brocade, lined with silk, all handstitched – the brocade itself  ( needed 8 metres is now retailing at £140 per metre… the dress value is  around  £2000, plus the kirtle, shoes,  pattens jewellery – another £400

Burgundian Gown-3

middle class gown in wool, linen lining – stock item – £220

Copie de DSCF0748

early 15th gown in wool, with linen – commission – value – £300

205638_205212719503370_100000439304130_691725_3940314_n

robe and chaperon in silk brocade, commission – £ 400. the same items in wool would cost £260

Peterborough Heritage

Royal Tudor gown – over £3400 ( detailed pricing here );  high born lady gown in silk velvet, lined with silk – £550. same gown in wool would cost £350

Henrician Outfit-5

Upper class Tudor set in wool, silk and fur – around £1000.  same outfit in quality, royal silks would probably double the price

LJP_2237

High status lady outfit, in silk satin, with silver lace – with  2 petticoats – £850

LJP_5203

middle class outfit in wool – £450

SONY DSC

Courtier  outfit in silk, lined with silk, silver lace, wrapped buttons – £800

LJP_8821

Middle class kit in wool  – £400

210412  Allan Burnett as james watt at kinniel house, boness.

18th century set in wool and linen, with lots of handfinish –  £ 600

IMG_20140408_121617

similar set but in silk, though machine finish  and blend fibre waistcoat lowers the price – £700

LJP_5791

Day dress in cotton, stock item – £300 ( not counting the undergarments)

St Audries Shoot-21

day dress in wool, stock item – £ 400

LJP_1238

Visiting dress in silk, heavily decorated – £ 1000

Hereford WWI July 2014-19

WWI dress in silk with lace, £ 350

Edwardian Outfits July 2014-17

WWI dress in cotton, with a silk sash – £ 270

LJP_1308

Victorian corset, stock item, part of our Bare basic range  – £115

Late Victorian Corset-2

Victorian corset, bespoke work, with exterior channels and extensive flossing – from £280

As you can see, it is often the price of fabric that makes the outfit expensive – or the fact that it is  a commission and not a stock item.

Having said all that – I must stress that  despite a few of the messages like that, the majority of people do appreciate the fact that their items are unique, made lovingly, and  individually fitted. And it is those lovely people that  make businesses like mine thrive – I used to teach in a college before, and the job, though rewarding, was nowhere near as rewarding ( both in card cash and job satisfaction). I  may be working longer hours, but I love my job, and would not be doing it if i didn’t – or if it didn’t pay my keep:-) :-)

More on running a costuming business can be read about here: https://adamselindisdress.wordpress.com/2014/11/17/running-a-costuming-business/

Hope the post has been useful to you, if you are new to costuming.  For those of you who are running businesses – have you come across similar experiences? if yes, do you have any other theories  that would explain them? Feedback welcome!

Victorian Ball, Bath 24 May 2015 details

vicball ad

 

Join us for a night of passionate waltzes,  swift polkas, stately polonaises and quadrilles, a night of elegance, in lovely surroundings , with great company, lovely music and superb food – yes, the ball is happening!

Many of you were asking us about organizing another ball following the Spectacular! ball – but since last year we had to deal with the post fire issues, there was no time for organizing another event.This year however is looking much better and so  I gave in – and the ball is now on…. Since the Regency balls are held there  regularly, and a Georgian one is also held in Bath thins march ( and yes, we are going:-) ), we thought Victorian theme would work nicely!

Fashions for men and women, Jan 1846 France, Les Modes Parisiennes

Fashions for men and women, Jan 1846 France, Les Modes Parisiennes

 

The details:

The Venue – beautiful Assembly Rooms, Bath… those who have been know what an amazing location it is, when we visited last autumn, participating in the Regency ball, we were enchanted by the venue… spacious, elegant and timeless – perfect for the theme! WE will be using either the Ballroom or the Tea room – depending on the numbers, set up etc. you can see more detail on the website – Here

12147bfad0efee6e0cb46690f2e229fb

2b76e706179c3d0ebf837fdbc9f922f0a

 

Catering – by Searcy’s

A light buffet will be served half way through – and the menu is mouthwatering!

Menu

Hot

 Beef burgers with caramelised onion relish

Cod and chips with mushy peas

Potato rosti with sour cream & chives

Cold

West Country chicken liver parfait with Somerset apple jam.

Skewer of buffalo mozzarella, sun dried tomato and roasted aubergine

~

Mini lemon & raspberry tarts

Chocolate shots with clotted cream

 There  will be a cash bar serving drinks, just in case all that dancing makes you thirsty :-)

Timings: 

door open at 7 -drinks, photography and socialising

8pm. dancing commences

9.15pm  Break for buffet and drinks

10pm dancing continues till 11.30

11.45pm  Carriages

12.00 Good night…. :-)

The Ball by Victor Gabriel Gilbert. Gorgeous

The Ball by Victor Gabriel Gilbert.

 

Dancing

There will be a dance workshop during the day, where we will have a go at a few dances, practicing our moves before the ball later on.  Our Dance Master on the day will be  Stuart Marsden- those of you who  watched the re-creation of the Pride and Predjudice Ball will no doubt recogine him! Stuart  is an accomplished teacher and specializes in period dances, working with various companies including BBC  –

He was also partnering Lucy Worsley in their lovely demo of Victorian dance – a part of the BBC Dancing Cheek to cheek programme – episode 2:-)

Stuart  will  not only  share his knowledge with us during the practice – he will be the one calling the dances in the evening too.  You can see the details on his website

http://www.thedancingmaster.co.uk/victorian.html

 

Faster and slower dances will feature ( waltzes, polkas, polonaise) and no partner is required – ladies can dance with other  ladies if needs be, as most dances are danced in sets, and partners are swapped on regular basis :-). no previous experience necessary!

The workshop will take place in the Assemply Rooms, – starting from 3pm on  the 24th May and will last for approximately 90 minutes…

Workshop dress code – you can come dressed in Victorian daywear, or modern attire –  comfy shoes a must:-)

 

For the workshop we will be using recorded music, for the event we have private musicians hired as well:-)

248124_10152803120230354_1904922820_n

 

 

Ball  Dress Code

Well, Victorian! fully fledged Victorian evening toilettes are welcome, but modern renditions and steampunk’d versions are acceptable, as long as there is no nudity and the skirts don’t show too much ankle….

For those of you who are making their own attire,  there is an inspiration board on Pinterest with a few ideas, and if you search this blog you will see a few post on making Victorian girly garb, step by step:-)

If you are commissioning your outfit, there are a few  recommended suppliers:

1. Prior Attire – well, us, of course…. Bespoke and off the peg, including corsetry and underpinnings. We now have only a couple of slots left before the ball, otherwise fully booked till June.http://www.priorattire.co.uk/

2. Wyte Phantom – lovely corsetry and gowns, again, fairly booked but Jen still has a few slots left! https://www.facebook.com/pages/Wyte-Phantom/119904928081954?fref=ts

3. Dressing History – Serena provides lovely accessories and bespoke dressmaking as well – http://www.dressinghistory.co.uk/#!shop/cfvg

4. Prometheus Gearing – http://www.prometheusgearing.co.uk/ great menswear!

5. Gentlemen’s Emporium – Ready made, american, ( so expect to pay the custom duty charge) but great coats, waistcoats etc, at a very accessible price. Men’s items good, ladies – not so much, more of a fantasy – but still well made.http://www.gentlemansemporium.com/mens_victorian_clothing.p…

6. Cloak’d and Dagger’d – both men’s and ladies wear –http://www.cloakedanddaggered.com/menu/19th-century/

7. Meredith Towne – http://www.meridithtowne.co.uk/

 

Do not despair if you don’t have anything suitable – modern evening ( black tie) attire will serve you well!

Please note – although I would love to have  just people in the highest quality authentic Victorian gear, I am also realistic – so the focus of the ball is having a great time, and not a ‘who’s got the prettiest/most authentic/ silkiest etc frock  competition’. Enjoy the dances, the food and the experience, but refrain from costume snarks, please! ;-)

DSC_0038 Photography

Just as  before, the lads from Mockford Photography will be joining  us again –  so if you want a high quality picture of you in your best rags, the prints will be available on the night:-) The service proved to be very popular last time, and I believe the boys will be no less busy than last time:-)

577689_10152052918765715_257828708_n

Fringe events 

Since it is the Bank Holiday weekend and the ball is on Sunday,  it look like many folk will be coming down to Bath for the whole weekend.

dc79ea498193f800778a3c201c4ecb14

There are numerous tourist attractions to keep people occupied for a week at least, and a variety of things to see – from the amazing Fashion Museum, Roman Baths ( more info  here), Jane Austen centre, carriage rides, lush gardens, parks, etc… The shops are full of  unusual and high quality items, and the antique shops can entrance treasure hunters for hours.

On top of that we plan to have a little informal  Victorian picnic on Saturday – the location will be most likely in the Royal Victoria park.  Everybody is welcome to join us, Victorian day dress encouraged but not required…

57dd29680b82a548deed0cb8ded8ad23

 

 Now there is also talk of  doing Monday breakfast Victorian style – probably  in the elegant Pump Rooms…. details on our fb page!

The details of the ball and the picnic are posted on our page and the event,  and the sites are updated with the recent information, including accommodation, picnic  etc. Each month there is a draw amongst the ticket holders for a free workshop session – we already have 3 winners, and by the time we close the box office there will be  3 more! :-)

Victorian ball on Facebook

27298_461041147287298_1378727985_n

 Tickets

The tickets are available from the website – currently we have sold  just over a half, so there is still a fair amount to go – but going swiftly! :-)

Tickets can be purchased here :-)

 

Needless to say, am really excited and cannot wait! :-)  hope to see you there too!

 

Ball at the Galerie des Glaces, Versailles 25 Aug 1855 Leaves from a Journal by Queen Victoria

Ball at the Galerie des Glaces, Versailles 25 Aug 1855 Leaves from a Journal by Queen Victoria

 

Corsetted Victorians and others – myths and reality

Originally posted on A Damsel in This Dress:

1851-60 blue ribbed silk corset, Museum of London Prints.  Image Number 002188 1851-60 blue ribbed silk corset, Museum of London Prints. Image Number 002188

“Oh my, this must hurt – how do you breathe in this?!” –  Many re-enactors, (and modern corset wearers), will recognize that remark, whether as a comment under a picture or spoken at an event.  I have heard my fill over the last few years, when dressed in Victorian kit, and the discussions that followed were equally interesting and illuminating for both parties.

Recently I have been browsing through Pinterest boards looking for images  of 1895 corsets, and noticed several nice pictures – yet it was not the pictures that captured my attention, rather the comments and descriptions below that were even more arresting…..

Just a few examples:

* ‘They are lovely, but so uncomfortable’ ( on this pin )

* ‘This is a victorian corset which was used to create the perfect hourglasss figure. This is gorgeous but I can’t imagine…

View original 1,798 more words