Of coarse we got out of the house later than I wanted to, so we didn’t get there at opening. Then I didn’t account for people wanting pictures of her every 5 minutes, or her attention to be riveted on the oddest things. We did make it to the main events that I had intended us to do, but I did not get to a single panel…sad for me.
Sunday was all for me, I left the little girl at home and attended panels strait through. The last one had to be one of my favorite: “Steampunk’d with Kato and 4 contestants. I definitely had my eyes opened a little to what it is like to be on a reality elimination TV show. NEVER want to do one myself now.
Now on to the costume part.
My inspiration was the Abney Park song Herr Drosemeyer’s Doll. It was definitely a learning experience.
To be perfectly honest, I really should not have competed in it. It was not my best work, and it looked downright juvenile compared to the other competitors. I could give all kinds of excuses as to being my first time working with tulle (that skirt had over 20 yards of it), I was over committed (had one of my tri-annual consignment sales going on that same weekend), I didn’t anticipate how long it would take (over 30 hours on the skirt alone), I didn’t start soon enough (I was working full time up until two weeks before the Con), and I was constantly getting interrupted (that’s the life of a SAHM of two kids, 6 & 3). In all honestly, those are just excuses, I can only say it is not my best work, and I am not all that proud of it.
One part that I am proud of was my make-up job, not the smoothest application of the base white but in the rule of 3 (3 inches, 3 feet, 3 yards) I passed on two out of three. But the best part for me was while I was in the bathroom touching up my makeup before the competition and non-other than Kato (yes, that Kato: the Queen of Steampunk design) said my makeup looked awesome (insert fan-girl squeeee).
When it came to the contest I am slightly kicking myself for not letting the LittleGirl walk across the stage with me. She really wanted to, but I hadn’t signed up as a group, but still, it would have been the topper of her day. Next time I have that kind of opportunity, I am going to let her come with.
On the construction side of the costume, I learned that my power machine does not like the ruffle attachment; it messes with the machine’s timing. So after struggling for two days with it I put aside my power machine and pulled out my trusty 1920s White Roatary Treadle. Let me tell you, that little thing may weight half a ton, but I keep being amazed at how she handles working with the most delicate of fabrics all the way up to leather. After about 15 minutes reacquainting myself with her I got to work, only to discover that something was causing her to stick at a specific point on her rotation. Costume work is set aside and out come the mineral oil and tools. I discovered a relative rat’s nest in the bobbin casing. With her being almost 90 years old, there isn’t a lot of information readily available service manuals, so I did some exploratory poking and prodding with tweezers and a strong flashlight. Eventually I got the thread out and re-oiled her. By then it was nearly 10 and I had to work in the morning.
The next day I emailed my treadle group (yes groups dedicated to these amazing machines do exhist) and asked if anyone knew how to take apart the bobbin casing properly to clean in there. Thankfully the founder of our group new exactly what I was talking about and offered to help. He doesn’t live too far from me so that weekend I went to his house and he pulled out one of his and showed me how to take it apart, and he also had a service book from the 50s that had about 6 pages dedicated to my machine and how to take some major components apart, in particular the tension, which according to Captain Dick is very tricky to put back together without instructions.
After all that, my White was back up and running beautifully! Finishing the ruffling was a snap.
I opted to go and buy a pair of granny panties to attach the tulle to rather than spending the time to construct a proper ballet pair, and since my tights were white, you can’t really tell.
Sewing the ruffles to the base was interesting. First off I needed to draw a line on the base layer to use as a sewing guide. I am not perfectly strait and flat, so I couldn’t just measure so far from the top and draw the line, and I did not have someone helping me so I improvised; I attached a pencil to my hem marking tool and turned around it, letting it draw a roughly level line. I wanted to use a zig-zag stitch so there would be possible for some stretch, so I had to go back to my power machine (90 years ago, a strait stitch was all there was). The throat space is not as big as I would have liked, so it took some major work to get all those ruffles in there.
By the time I got the skirt done, I had two days to get the top done. Half way through I realized that I hadn’t bought enough boning. Sadly I had to use plastic boning because all my spiral steel boning is still in storage. I ended up forgoing going to Friday of Steamposium to get the top finished and was done with it around 12:30am Saturday morning. I spent another 20 minutes on LittleGirl’s costume and went to bed.
On Saturday LittleGirl and I arrived at Steamposium. Within the first hour I was reminded as to why I do not use plastic boning: it bends and stays bent. I was lucky enough to get one of the lady vendors to adjust my modesty panel and re-tighten my lacing. Even with it tightened all the way, the bottom was still a little too big. Half way through the day I started feeling something poking me in the side. The fabric of the top has some metallic thread to it, so I just assumed that was what was poking me. That evening when I tried to take it off, something was catching on my underclothes making the top hard to get off. When I finally got it off, I discovered that I had sewn two strait pins between the fabric and the lining, right at the boning!
Needless to say, I will be pulling this top apart and rebuilding it to fit properly and add in the spiral steel boning.
One good thing to come out of this is that I have discovered that I am starting to get rather proficient at adding grommets!