Hi, everybody!  Thank you for your encouraging comments and emails, and I will try to answer the questions that are either recorded here or that I can remember now that I have a working-and-online computer again, albeit without about a month’s worth of email.

The dress is c. 1886, allowing for the fact that I designed it and am willing to dance about by a few years for the sake of theatrical ‘look’.  1886 is my baseline, because what I am doing is costuming Jekyll & Hyde.  In fact, the script direction I believe states 1888, but that is because I suspect the people who wrote the play didn’t actually read the book or, if they did, still chose to base the show off of a John Barrymore film from 1920, which was perhaps even more relevantly re-made for television in 1980.  These scripts, unlike the original novel, have girls in them.

Interestingly, the book was scripted for the stage as early as 1887, but looks to have been much closer to the book, and thus of little interest to a modern audience, who would like to have at least one pretty girl to look at.  Also they (Victorian women, that is) are more fun to dress, so it is much to my benefit that these films were the basis for the musical, even if it means they got the dates wrong.  And yes, these are the kind of things that I either know or automatically go find out as soon as I see a date that strikes me as odd, is it any wonder it takes me so long to accomplish anything?  And also I don’t get invited out much?  (Kidding. I wouldn’t go anyway.)

Anyway.  That dress, which now looks like this: (click to embiggen)

is for Jekyll’s girlfriend Emma, who is rich and fancy and hence gets all the tailored and simple-looking stuff.  Personally I am looking forward to the hookers, although Emma’s wedding dress will also be fun.  For the first time, I begin to understand what was going through the designer’s mind when that garish monstrosity that was Lucy’s wedding dress in Bram Stoker’s Dracula was conceived.  Although Emma’s will look nothing like that, I promise.  Oh, and that is a bonnet on the top, there.

As far as how I do this stuff – yes, Kate, I mostly drape.  I’ve had dress-forms available to me since I started doing serious costuming back in high school, and I love draping because the hands-on and the literal creation of the shapes before one’s very eyes are to me incredibly cool.  In fact, the incredible coolness of making wild and complicated shapes happen out of things which often used to be old sheets is pretty much why I do this stuff.  I’ve been doing it for a very long time, and so actually I find I can now do most of the draping in my head and then go draw the shapes on paper somewhere, and I am actually doing that more for this show in the interests of having paper record and actual extant patterns when I’m done – but it isn’t as much fun as just throwing stuff at a dress-form and watching it become.

I am even doing workup sketches, in order to prove (to no-one in particular) that yes, I really meant it like that.

It is a front closure, but the real closure is hidden beneath that front panel, the buttons are all fakes although some of them conceal hooks that hold the panel in place.  Under the panel is one of those nifty corset-closure metal button thingies.  There will also be (when I feel like boring myself that much) a lot of little hooks or possibly for the sake of dressers snaps, which hold the train of the bodice in place over the train of the skirt, which is only pretty in the front because it has the bodice drape to cover it.  This is, as anybody who isn’t bored rigid by now knows, also ‘period’, and damned convenient when trying to save money for stage as well.  There are going to be a lot of bedsheets in this show.

Also for this show I am building the bustles into the underskirts, instead of actually making the poor actresses wear constructions of steel and lace, as I have done in the past.  This is kind of a pain and also more expensive than just liberating steel strapping from a lumberyard, but it will make the costumes more re-usable without the theatre having to store awkward hardware.  Unless the dry-cleaners melt them, which is a possibility as I don’t completely trust dry-cleaners who are faced with something weird.  But frankly, that is not my problem right now.

Anything else I have done so far is pretty boring, although I do have a coat for Hyde that is showing potential.  And yesterday I started working on a dress for the Other Woman, Lucy, which will be Really Very Different from Emma’s stuff, so as soon as it looks like something other than a bedsheet tied to a pile of quilt batting, I will show you that too.  Ok, maybe I will also give you the bedsheet-and-batting, but I didn’t take a picture of it last night, so not yet.

Oh, one other thing – you can, as that picture only sort of shows, knit and felt a decent looking bowler hat.

Random picture of an Alpaca getting naked:

But what I really wanted to say is, I feel great.  I feel like a naked alpaca with the breeze on my skin.  I spent six hours today in a really – intense, there is no other word – cutting session.  Having said that, I should mention for the sake of all the people who will now be misdirected by search engines that I mean cutting  fabric, not subcultural blood-letting.  Interesting as that may be, I’m only going to talk about costuming.  Sorry.

I am working on a dress for Jekyll & Hyde and it is somewhat complicated because that is the way I drew it on Saturday when I was doing sketches, and I got it all plotted out and all the pieces cut and rather a lot of assembly done, and I’ve had a lot of coffee and only a little sleep and it’s all going so amazingly well that I had to stop and dance on the front porch for a while to burn off energy.  It is good to feel this good.  It is good to remember that I can feel this good.

See, I’m shooting here for something that looks light and breezy, something that looks simple even though it isn’t remotely.  Also it would be nice if the actress can get into it quickly and be something like comfortable because she’s got to wear it for a couple of scenes.  All of this so far seems to be working.  I’m speculating whether I can accomplish anything more today before the “no sewing after midnight” rule kicks in.  It’s iffy, all the straightforward stuff is out of the way.

I’m still pretty wired though, and haven’t got much in the way of a functioning vocabulary.  So I’m just gonna leave you with another alpaca because tell me this picture isn’t simply awesome:


Why do I always feel like I should be doing something else? If I’m painting I should be sewing, if I’m sewing I should be carding wool, if I’m spinning I should be blogging (spinning is when I think of all kinds of stuff I want to tell you guys, most of which I promptly forget about as soon as I get near a computer) if I’m dyeing I should be cleaning the house or washing wool, and if I’m knitting I should be doing just about anything else. The only time I can really get away with guilt-free knitting is if Raven has the TV on.

What the heck is this about? I have been trying to figure it out for ages, and while I have formulated some theories I don’t know if any are correct. Or maybe they all are. I know that my finished object to WIP ratio is bizarrely low, because I am the poster child for process orientation and I have the attention span of a small rodent when it comes to repeating any action or process that I thouroughly understand. I do have a boatload of guilt about the number of UFOs I have – but why? I don’t need these things, I only needed to figure them out. Which I have done.

It’s not as if I spend a lot of money on my crafts either. I build a lot of my own tools, I make do with salvaged or broken items. I work with found objects, and an exhaustive study of my crafting history would demonstrate that since I learned to sew at the age of five I have been moving further and ever further backward, always pursuing and fascinated by the step that comes before the thing I already know how to do.  At this point, the natural conclusion of my life should be that when I die I will be placed in an elaborate coffin of my own construction, hand carved by me and painted in hand ground pigments (egg based, naturally) and lined with hand spun, hand woven and naturally dyed wool.  In a perfect world said coffin would be burned on a pyre of wood cut from a tree I planted, while my friends danced around drinking beer and mead that I brewed.  It will be fun; you should come.  If I have enough warning, I will make paper and print invitations.  There will be door prizes.

Now, in the course of posting this, WordPress has managed to lose the latter half of it, and I have really no idea what I said.  I know the point was, that I would like to stop feeling bad about the things that make me feel good.  This is, after all, my life.  I know that I am never going to make any “significant” mark on the world, but that is ok because nothing I have ever done or ever wanted to do is particularly “significant” so that is not a problem for me.

Does anyone else experience this?  What, if anything, do you do about it if so?  Please, discuss.  In the meantime, I’ll get started on those invitations, as soon as I make Raven a frock coat, which I am going to start as soon as this collage is out of the way, and I will be finishing that right after I dye the yarn that I am currently carding wool for the spinning of.  Unless I just throw in the towel and go knit something.

I can knit! Can’t do socks yet, there seems to be more wrist action going on there than I would have anticipated, but I can work on straights. So I am knitting a shawl, because I hate seaming which is why I work in the round in the first place. I mean, to me as a seamstress, one of the coolest things about knitting is that you play with string for a while and then a finished object happens. (At least, it does if you are the sort of person who actually finishes anything, as opposed to my chronic ‘startitis’, but that is a whole other discussion).

So I started a shawl. Cast on seven stitches, started increasing on the ends and at the centre with some vague idea of stripes and perhaps a bit of lace. But not too much lace because what I’m actually going for is warm and practical rather than pretty. Also easy, because k2tog were giving me some trouble during the sock attempt. (yes, that is pathetic.)

By the way, I saw my x-rays yesterday. Holy hardware store, batman! I for some reason thought that medical screws were tiny, specially made items which would be carefully and delicately inserted by precision instruments. I was mistaken. Apparently they just sterilize a couple of wood screws and dive on in there with a Robertson. (that is the square headed one, which was invented by a Canadian and we like it.) anyway, no wonder my scar is so big, it looks like they were building a deck in there or something! /aside

So I’m knitting. At some point quite early on the stripes were abandoned as I began to consider cables. The lace went out the door at this point also. But just sticking in cables seemed kind of gratuitous, since let’s be honest, it only came up because I think cabling is neat.

And then Raven wandered by wearing the dressing gown I made with twining snakes appliquéd all over it and I thought “ooh, I could make the cables into snakes! Then I could have a matching shawl, sort of!” So that is what I am doing. It may be ghastly, I don’t know. I can’t really see it without taking it off the needles, which sounds like work, and there is no pattern, I have just randomly started making snakes as I go along. But I am knitting!

Lookit me, mom, I’m typing!  Well ok actually, everybody except Stalkermom and any of you out there with extremely mom-like tendencies lookit me.  Otherwise avert your eyes, I haven’t figured out yet whether I’m going to regret this later or not.

I have a vitally important reason for attempting this though… I have received new information regarding my broken arm.  I’ve been saying all along that the responsible sheep (who I am pretty sure was Chloe, but what do I know, I was lying on the ground waiting for the pieces of the world to re-assemble) was innocent; that it was an accident rather than a malicious attack.  Now, however, the truth has been revealed – my sheep was under the malevolent mind-control of my (thus) brand-new arch-nemesis Dani, crafty podcaster and villain extraordinaire.

Yes, in traditional arch-villainous fashion, Dani has admitted to her nefarious scheme.  Unfortunately the whole thing was retroactive, so I was unable to take advantage of her speechifying to dodge the sheep and save my own arse.  Or in this case, arm.  We may still need a little work perfecting this nemesis thing.  However!  Now I know to be on the lookout.  It is clearly my duty, as well as my new means of procrastinating getting anything real done, to keep my eye on this girl.  Society must be warned about her underhanded attempts to take over (or at least over-analyse) the crafting world, not to mention future attempts on my own well-being.  Or possibly I could just remember to take my pills and damp down this paranoia – but where’s the fun in that?

If you’re wondering what the hell I’m talking about right now – well, I’m not going to try and explain it here, you’ll just have to go listen to the Craft Culture podcast and try to figure it out.  But be warned!  She will try to charm you with her approachable personality, her so-familiar to so many of us artsy instability, her multiple projects on the go, her many talents… Don’t be deceived!  She is a charming, talented, crazy Monster! Beware!

Speaking of monsters, last monday was the final day of Workin’ Mom In The Sweatshop, and it all went very well.  See, I was working on this show.  Moliere.  Two one-acts, in fact.  Planning to be done on March 31.  (Which I totally would have been, by the way, even CK admits it, and she always mocks my sewing-in-the-car-on-the-way-to-the-event tendencies).  And then, the arm.  Ever tried to costume a show single-handedly, as it were?  I mean, I do it all the time in the euphemistic sense, but literally?  Not happening.  Even if I hadn’t been ricocheting between Horrible Pain and Stoned on Percoset, it was not going to happen.  So to my very great relief (because I was going to have to ask her and hated to do so) CK offered to step in and finish the sewing.  Followed a week of crazy back-breaking (unfortunately a little too actually back-hurting in CK’s case) work, but we did it.  And we didn’t even fight.  Yes, we had some lively debates about the horrors that pass for embellishment in the 17th century, but that’s just because they’re ugly.

So here’s a quick taste – I have a lot of photos but haven’t actually looked at all of them yet, so only a couple today.  And I’m going to just post them and cut this off abruptly, because it has just come to my attention that I cannot actually type this much yet.  So enjoy the pretty pictures – I’m going to go crack a Guinness and mutter at Dani under my breath.

One last note, and then I am seriously diving for that Guinness – that last gingham dress was 100% Clare Kilpatrick.  I had a notional idea of where I wanted to go with it, but had done nothing at all about it, and when I showed up the following day (and by “showed up” I mean called and said “mommy can I have a ride now” because nobody will let me drive yet), there it was.  In case there was anybody left anywhere who doubted that I come by my crazy fibre tendencies honestly.

Hey everybody, thank you so much for your concern and lighthearted mockery! No really, I mean it. I’ve been doing a pile of nothing much – cut two dresses with CK the other day (she having Very Generously offered to finish this show or I and the company would have been screwed!) It turns out, whatever it is I do might actually be HARD – at least it is with one arm. I was totally knocked out the next day, and am still doing basically nothing but enjoying the gorgeous weather. And wishing I could do something else!
The good news for me has been, I bought a new (to me) toy. Yes, I too can now sign emails with the cool-to-be-geeky tag, “from my iPod”. Which is where I’m typing this post from too, so I’m afraid there’s nothing much in the way of pictures today, as I haven’ t got any on here yet. Except those down below, which is apparently the only way I can load ’em from here, how annoying.
Well, annoying or not it is MUCH easier (don’t see any itallics either) to type on this tiny silly keypad, so I can post… and learning this thing and setting it up has kept me amused when I might otherwise have gone mad(der).
So the pictures that it promises to show, which I have no idea what they will look like, were drawn on said iPod with a silly little app that is loads of fun. Not that the pictures themselves are anything much, but as a way of sketching and developing ideas for later, “realler” stuff this is a blast.

Edit: ok I checked ’em out on a real monitor and I still like ’em! Yeah!

It is still That Month.  I was just thinking yesterday that I’d got away with it and really [Prosperpine] has been going fairly well.

So this morning I tripped and fell  (there was a sheep involved, but I am not sure who, or what exactly happened).  I was just rather suddenly on the ground with a broken arm.  I have broken “two or three” chips off my Radial Long String Of Medical Terms, and they are floating and twisting around and it HURTS and tomorrow I have surgery because apparently I can’t even break an arm like a normal person.

And I will tell you more after surgery, but how the heck do all you hunt-and-peck types do this?  It’s taken forever to write this little bit, and it turns out the letters have worn off some of my keys.