It came down to the wire, but I did it! I finished the outfit in time and, despite some trouble actually getting to the event due to weather and map issues, I had a wonderful time at the Elizabeth and the Pirate Feast!
But first, the finishing pieces…
Trimming the sleeves took much longer than I thought it would, but Thursday and part of Friday I got through it all.
And Friday, I pearled the trim for the overskirt. There was a minor meltdown where it took me 20 minutes to thread a needle (and I finally gave up on the damn beading needle and got a bigger one), but we won’t dwell upon that now.
I actually did sew the skirt trim on by machine — only a small time savings, due to the fact that metallic thread shreds like crazy in the sewing machine (I learned that doing the embroidery on Arwen’s Rivendell Farewell Gown). Still, it was a smidge faster, and I got it done.
Saturday morning, I got to those hooks and eye on the sleeve cuffs (yay, no safety pins!).
Then I started on the attifet. I basically drew a big heart shape on pattern paper, cutting it down a few times till it looked ok on my head. Then I pieced together some floral stem wire I have in The Stash — poor woman’s millinery wire. The stuff is paper covered, so it’s easy to work with in fabric like real millinery wire, but you can find it cheap at Michaels. The only drawback is that it only comes in foot-long pieces. I had some laying around, so use what ya got. Twisted together three pieces into a circle, and it was enough.
I cut my attifet pattern out of a scrap of the same pearled silk I used for the sleeves and forepart, adding a half-inch seam allowance all around. Then I whip-stitched the fabric to the wire. The whole thing took me about an hour after I’d cut the paper pattern. I really enjoy making hats. It’s so much fun, so satisfying. I don’t know that I’m that good at it though, because I never seem to have enough time for it. Like this one, hats are an, omg, I need something to stick on my head! Quick, whip one up! project. If I ever had some actual time to pay attention to hats, maybe I could get good at it. Someday 🙂
So I had my wired silk heart shape. I pinned up my hair and started toying with the “hat” on my head. But all I got was either mouse ears or the Flying Nun. Grrr… Either the attifet was too big or my hair was too small. But I wanted the hat to be that big, especially since my gown and sleeves had so much width. I needed the balance. The problem was really my hair — having cut short a couple months ago, it’s too flat and slick. I can’t get that Elizabethan frizz at all.
I contemplated quite a few things, including leaving my hair down or wearing a fantasy pink beaded tiara. Then I thought why not walk over to the costume shop and just see what they have in the way of wigs. I’d briefly looked a few weeks ago, but why not look more carefully? It’s only three blocks away, and it was 1:30pm at that point.
So off I went! At the store, I made the poor lady take down or hunt for about six different wigs, looking for something curly and in black. We were not having much luck. Finally, after testing a bunch of expensive wigs, she pulled out one of the cheap bagged dolly wigs. She said she’d used one like this, teased out the ringlets, and styled it into a pretty good historical shape once. “It’s only $20, give it a shot!” So I did!
Rushed home, had a bit of lunch, then took out the wig. Gave it a shake, stuck it on my head, popped the attifet on top, and realized, heck yeah, this has potential! I scrounged some wig clips from The Stash and sewed them inside the hairline of the wig first thing. Then I pinned the wig onto a styrofoam wig head and started styling. I teased out the ringlets a little, then rolled the sides back, rather like 1940s rolls. The curly texture gave it that Elizabethan frizz look, and the rolled shape mimicked the heart shape that so many ladies have in Elizabethan portraits. A ton of bobby pins held it, then I laquered it down with hairspray and let it dry.
In the meantime, I sewed bobby pins inside the attifet at the center front, center back, and on each side. Later, when I styled my hair, I parted it across the very front from ear to ear, pulled everything else back and pinned it securely, put the wig on, and pulled my front hair over the top of the wig. This helped blend my hairline so it looked more realistic. Then I secured the attifet over my hair and the wig with the sewn-on bobby pins.
I finished everything by about 3pm, and we left the house about 4:30pm. We stayed at the Hilton Garden Inn at Emeryville (got a deal on Hotwire.com) so we wouldn’t have to drive back to San Jose after midnight. I was a little nervous to put the outfit on for the first time away from home, but luckily it all came together perfectly. No problems!
And it felt very good, very comfortable. The skirt was heavy, but that’s about it. The corset (with the tabs, no thanks to Alteryears) was quite comfortable and didn’t need to be tight-laced. The bodice fit beautifully, thanks to all the expert help I had. The sleeves felt very good, though I decided to leave the outersleeves hanging, instead of wear them layered. They felt a bit stiff with both layered, and I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to eat at the feast. Plus, it showed off all the beading better that way!
I did, of course, discover a few little things that need to be changed or fixed before the next wearing. You know, all those first-time-wearing issues. Like, I didn’t put hooks attaching bodice to skirt, so the skirt shifted around a bit. And I need a few more snaps to secure the trim down the center front so it’s smoother. Plus I really need to un-stuff that farthingale pad. Also may need to remove and re-draft the front skirtings on the bodice because they’re wrinkly above the cartridge-pleating, as noted earlier. All minor.
The big projects will be to make the ruff and the real hat, both as planned. For Costume College.
Still, I’m pretty darn pleased with this one! I enjoyed wearing this gown. I felt good, and it was comfortable. I love this one, I really do. Oh and the cold, rainy night was perfectly appropriate to my costume, for a change! I stepped outside and felt nice in the weather. How novel :-).