Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Overbook Much?

Lily says, "Hello," and "Mummy's not home enough to suit me."  (Lily has
a British accent, at least in my head, if anyone needs to know that).
Don't worry, we will return to Downton Abbey -- I still have to edit the last, most excessive photos.  The evening wear, my dears.  The beads.  The lace.  The colors!

But for now, a small gripe.  Directed mostly at myself.  Those are really the only productive gripes anyway; you can't do anything about anyone else, but if you piss yourself off, there's a chance you can fix it.  Or not, and just slog through the rat's maze you've made.

I started work today on an eight-week temp job.  I thought it was only six weeks, but apparently the person I'm covering for is having a C-section, so she gets an extra two weeks of recovery time.  One co-worker intimated she's having the C-section deliberately to get the extra time, but I can't imagine the time is worth the recovery.  But then again, I've never had kids by either method, so what do I know?

So.  Eight weeks, five days a week.  Indoors, with no sewing machine and far too much climate control.

And my schedule, aside from the office job, looks like this for the end of July and the first two weeks of August:

Sunday, 7/27 - all day craft show in South Philadelphia.

Friday, 8/1 - First Friday, selling on the street.  I took off for this because I'll (hopefully) make more out there than indoors.  Last time, I made money and ended up on TV!

Saturday, 8/2 - informal outdoor craft show at the Rotunda in West Philly, in conjunction with a DIY skillshare event.

Sunday, 8/3 - first group sewing lesson.

Wednesday, 8/6 - Make Do & Mend class at the Department of Making and Doing, West Philadelphia.

Saturday, 8/9 - family event, a/k/a I get some rest, but not at home.

Sunday, 8/10 - second group sewing lesson.

Saturday, 8/16 - flea market / craft fair in Clark Park, West Philadelphia

Sunday, 8/17 - I'm not getting out of bed unless and until there's a third sewing lesson, which would be scheduled for the afternoon.

Question for anyone who might be listening (since apparently I am not).  WHAT WAS I THINKING??

By the way, if any of that listed insanity intrigues you, the times and locations of all events are under the Calendar of Events tab above.


Tuesday, July 22, 2014

A Day at Downton Abbey - Part 4

And now for some of the memorable bits.

Lady Sybil's harem pants, anyone?  Considering how much fuss was made over this outfit by the character, and the family (and Branson's) reaction, it got remarkably little screen time.  I wonder if this was due to the fact that the vintage portions of the costume were disintegrating as Sybil wore them.

This costume was far more impressive to me (again) in person, because I could get so close to the embroidered bodice that I practically left nose prints on it.  I do wish they'd included the headpiece she wore with it, but I guess because the mannequins didn't have heads, they didn't bother.

Another notable gown -- Lady Mary's engagement dress.


Which wasn't really all that notable.  The exhibit card said that the dress was deliberately plain, so as not to detract from the drama of the scene, but really, what would have detracted from Mary and Matthew finally getting their act together?

The color was perfect of course -- Mary looks like she's made out of ivory, and she's so slender that anything looks good -- but beyond that, we were fairly unimpressed.  I didn't like the ruffles on the skirt, and that only every other ruffle had beading.  The small bit of beading at the neck also looked more significant on camera.  And really, what's the gather-y thing around the middle?  Good thing she inherited Scarlett O'Hara's 18-inch waist.


I guess that's why they're the professionals, though.  Because I really can't remember much about the dress in the scene, other than the color, and how good she looked, and the snow falling.

Oh, the snow.  Behind the Mary-and-Matthew tableau, they have the engagement scene on a video loop, with the music playing and snowflakes projected onto the walls.  It's a nice touch.

And then there's Edith.  Not a lot of  her earlier clothes made it into the exhibit, and most of her interesting 20s clothes are probably in England, since they're filming.  But they had her wedding gown.
The wedding gown.  The beading on that made my eyes water.

We all remember Mary coming down the stairs at Downton, and Lord Grantham and Carson bursting their buttons with pride, but that dress looked good because Mary was wearing it; I don't think it was all that special otherwise.  Edith's dress is an amazing piece of clothing.

The green backdrop didn't do the satin here any favors; it really caught the color in the photos.  It's probably most accurately depicted in the train photograph above, which also shows the delicious beading to advantage.

In true 20s fashion, the dress doesn't look that spectacular on the mannequin, but remember how it looked on Edith?  Satin like that needs a body in it to really work.

The beading on the gown was just amazing, and there was so much of it.  The cluster of flowers on the hip, the leaves on the shoulder, the beautiful work on the back -- I don't even remember seeing the back of the gown on TV -- and the train.  Bow down to that train, because it is worthy.

Believe it or not, I still have more photos.  I haven't gotten to some of Cora's clothes, or any of Martha's, and can we talk about Downton and leave out the Dowager Countess in all her Edwardian splendor?

Let me know if you're sick of it yet; otherwise, more soon.

Monday, July 21, 2014

A Day at Downton Abbey - Part 3

Today we're venturing below stairs to the servants' hall.  The costumes here aren't as elaborate, which is good because I have very little time tonight to write about them.

There are, as with the other costumes, things you don't notice as they flash by on screen -- what a nice print they used for the house maids' day dresses, the fact that Daisy's droopy little apron has a print on it, that O'Brien's outfit has such elaborate trims, and that Mrs. Hughes is actually quite a sharp dresser.

And then, of course, there's Mrs. Patmore.

Mrs. Hughes - I love the subtle plaid in her skirt, the trim on
the skirt panels and at the neckline.  (And the replica of the bells from
the servants' hall)

Maids' uniform - day.  Printed cotton dress with a relatively
plain white apron - this one has two lines of insertion on the front.

Maids - evening or party uniform.  Black dress with
white apron.  Lace on the aprons (each one pictured is
different) and lace at the collar.

Our girl Daisy, queen among kitchen maids.  A plain dress, but
with contrast collar and cuffs, and a light print apron with
tiny, sad pockets.

Mrs. Patmore -the dress is very plain, just a line of white at
the collar.  I like the gathers at the shoulder seam to
accommodate Mrs. P's rather substantial bust.  And I don't think
she'd object to the kitchen they gave her, either.

Miss O'Brien.  How we don't miss her.  I overexposed this
one just slightly so that you could see the difference in
color between the fabrics, and also the tiny ruffles along the
edge.  Who knew Miss O'Brien had interesting clothes?


A Day at Downton Abbey - Part 2

Lady Mary's mourning dress
The exhibit card said it was called The Mauve Decade because shades of lavender and mauve were so popular.  These shades were also used for partial mourning, and in a post-war era, I'm sure there was still a lot of that going on.

These two dresses were worn by Mary and Cora at Sybbie's christening, when they were obviously in mourning for Sybil.

I didn't find these two all that exciting at first, but when you look at the details, they get a lot more interesting.

As with a lot of these costumes, they look far better on a real body than on a mannequin.  I remember liking Mary's dress a lot on her, but at first this lavender dress here didn't do a lot.  I liked the detail at the neckline, and then I looked at the repeat of it on the sleeve bands and the motif at the hem, and I liked it more.

Lady Cora's mourning dress a/k/a
the world's most glamorous robe
Then I noticed that the gray color of the sash is repeated in tiny bands of gray around the sleeve hems and around the neck, and at the tiny button placket at the back neck (though the covered buttons are lavender to match the dress).

And of course, the hats.  Do we even need to talk about the hats?

I didn't think so.

Cora's dress was plain, with a lovely brocade jacket that swept the floor.  The draped collar was in a perfectly matched satin, but what intrigued me on closer inspection was that the floral motif on the jacket's cuffs had been lightly quilted.  These are the kind of touches that get totally lost on TV, but that I love knowing are there.

Back details for both
Also, the fullness at the back of the jacket is gathered into buttons, which narrows the silhouette and really saves it from looking like Cora wandered out of the house in her robe, albeit a really nice robe.

Next up, a visit to the servants' hall.  Don't worry, there are things to see there as well.

Like I said, the HATS!!!

Detail, Lady Mary's neckline

Quilted cuff on Cora's jacket





Sunday, July 20, 2014

A Day at Downton Abbey - Part 1

Lady Sybil's garden party dress
I was going to try to do this in one post, but two days later, I still can't get my head clear from seeing the Downton costumes at Winterthur, so I'm just going to take my time here and show as many costumes and details as need to be shared.

Considering I took the camera off the charger that morning, and it died as I took my last photo that day, I think that says something.  It says something like 210 photos is what it says.

But there's something to be said for a costume exhibit without ropes, without wires, without invisible alarms that go off and scare you half to death when all you're trying to do is lean in a little closer to see how something was constructed.  I nearly got tossed out of the Met in NYC years ago when I set off one too many alarm at the Paul Poiret exhibit.

I always loved this Lady Mary dress.
The Downton exhibit was set up really well -- it started with a nicely staged servants' area, with Mrs. Hughes, Thomas and a day maid's uniform, then went on to the girls' garden party dresses from season 1 (the party where war was declared), then turned to more afternoon wear, menswear, and finally (and most gloriously) the evening section, including Matthew's tails and Lady Mary's dress from the engagement scene, set in front of a video of that scene running on a loop, and falling snowflakes projected on the walls.

Nice touch, but even after spending 15 minutes in that section, I think I know every syllable of the scene by heart.  How the poor woman who works in the Downton exhibit gift shop manages, I'll never know.

And Lady Mary's engagement dress?  Not all that much.  Probably my least favorite dress in the entire exhibit.  The explanation said they wanted a fairly simple dress, so as not to take away from the intensity of the scene, but really?  Matthew and Mary finally getting themselves together, outside, at night, in the snow?  She could have worn something a bit more dramatic and I don't think we'd have noticed one bit.

Very nice use of stripes, and I love the lace
at the neckline.
Speaking of noticing, the best part of the exhibit for me was seeing all the details that I never noticed on TV.  I've watched most of the series several times, but like the costumes on Game of Thrones (have you ever seen closeups of those costumes? You must!), things just move too quickly, or aren't lit to be examined the way I would like to.

Interesting closure - down the bodice front, along
the belt and then snaps down the skirt.  
The exhibit made up for that.

Somehow I didn't managed to take photos of each grouping (though I thought I did), but in this first section you have Mary and Sybil's garden party dresses, with a wall-size photo of the scene and some of the script on the wall beside it.

I loved how much vintage is integrated into the costumes.  A few (I believe Sybil's dress here is an example) are mostly vintage, but obviously the lace on Mary's neckline is as well, and certainly they were watching their p's and q's with that appropriate method of closure on Mary's dress.  I would have been so upset to see a sneaky hidden zipper in a side seam.

The frightening thing, though was a card explaining that the costumers only have 7 weeks to construct all the costumes for a season.  I'm picturing a total sweatshop here -- I'm sure they're thrilled that costumes get re-used from season to season; it saves them some work.

Next up, the Mauve Decade, or Mary and Cora's partial mourning dresses from Little Sybbie's christening.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Common Thread Giveaway - we have a winner!

Congratulations to Barbara, you are the winner of July's Common Thread Giveaway!  Barbara's entry said that she would like to give this little lion to her 2 1/2 year old "Grand Lady."  I hope she enjoys it!

Thanks to all the Common Thread bloggers (Maria Wulf, Jane McMillan, Rachel Barlow, Jon Katz, Kim Gifford).  Check out their blogs, and remember, in August there will be another giveaway.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Shirt in a day

On our way downtown to find new
cargo shorts.  I do have my limits.
It's craft show season, so I've been busy at home making things to keep my inventory up.  I tend to wander from project to project, so I don't get bored -- bears one day, dresses the next, potholders on the third day.  Even so, I get a little tired sometimes.

Friday was one of those days.  It was also not too hot, which is good.  My sewing room faces west and in the afternoons it gets somewhere between unbearable and seventh-circle-of-hell.  Friday it was just mildly purgatorial; I can deal with that.  (On really hot days, I retreat to the dining room and cut out masses of projects to be assembled when I can stand the heat.  Yes, I could bring the machine downstairs, but I haven't yet).

So it was comfortable in the workroom, but I didn't feel like working.  Doesn't that figure?  So I decided to clear my head and hone my skills by making Mario a shirt.  Every time I feel like I'm going to fast or getting a little sloppy, I make a shirt.  All that painstaking topstitching slows me down and makes me think about what I'm doing, and why.

He picked out this wallpaper-ish floral a while back at Philadelphia Fabric Outlet.  It's a quilting cotton, technically, and not something I would usually use for a man's shirt, but I don't get as judgmental about short-sleeved summer shirts.  They are what they are, and if I don't have to make cuffs and sleeve plackets with less than cooperative cotton, he can have what he wants.

I'd pre-washed the fabric months ago, when we bought it, but it's been languishing in the living room ever since, in the pile of stuff to be taken into the workroom someday.

I think he likes it!
It made it in, I cut it up, and in 2 1/2 hours, he had a new shirt.  A little slower than my best time for a short-sleeved shirt, but then again, at least an hour less than if I'd had to do cuffs and sleeve plackets.  The collar on this one worked without a fuss -- every once in a while, I get a collar band that just settles onto the shirt like it's meant to be there, but even as often as I've made this pattern (at least 20 times now), I still argue with the collar occasionally.

In case you're interested, the pattern is KwikSew 3422, my favorite pattern to use for him.  Though now that he's lost weight, I think I need to go in a half size for his next dress shirt.  Summer shirts can be roomy; I like a bit more fit in a dress shirt.