Thursday, September 26, 2013

The Autumn Winds Do Blow

Daisy's Owl Hat and Kimono Costume
How lovely it is to sit down with a hot cup of tea!  Especially after completing a particularly tricky project.  Or two!  Its a quiet afternoon, my studio has been tidied up.  Not a single scrap of fabric or slip of thread lay about.  Yet.  Later this afternoon, I'm certain I'll be ready to pay some attention to poor Katy who's been standing around in her skivvies for a month now.  But, I do enjoy making Halloween costumes.  Perhaps I can say that I enjoy creating them best of all.

While completing Polly's Orange Pierrot Costume, I switched gears for a couple of days and made Daisy a new costume, too.  When I once again came across this well known illustration of an elegant lady in an owl hat, I thought to have one made for Bleuette.  I asked a friend of mine if she might be interested, but she wasn't (I really do not like sewing for Bleuette), so I let the thought go, then decided to make a large version for Daisy.  Why not?

I found three Bleuette kimono patterns on the Bleudoor Portal, selected one, enlarged it, redesigned it, and took to the sewing machine.  Patty Kascsak was asked to make the fabulous Owl Hat, and what an owl hat it is!  This artist's work makes me giggle, and takes my breath away all in one sweep!

Daisy's Owl Hat and Kimono Costume is made from a black jacquard fabric.  It has a tiny stitched floral pattern in it, which I felt would be suitable for this beautiful kimono.  I used a gold crinkle silk for the border and full lining.  The redesigns were few, but did take awhile since the pattern was so large.  I lengthened and widened the sweep of the kimono, opened the sleeves wider, and shortened the collar to include a gentle scoop back to the edge.  Using my favorite Magalie Dawson lining technique, it went together fairly quickly.  This Owl Hat and Kimono Costume, is at once elegant and whimsical.

Examples of Japonisme in Impressionism
Many artists during the Impressionist movement painted women in Japonisme.  The novelty and new accessibility to The Orient was beautifully portrayed by painters like Monet and William Chadwick, to name a couple.

Another note of French charm came with Pierrot, the sad clown whose origin is late 17th c. Italian comedy.  It is said that Pierrot pined for the love of Columbine, who broke his heart leaving him for Harlequinn.  And, as with the Japonisme kimono, the Pierrot costume passed the test of time and became a staple of costuming.  Even Polly Pratt got one!

Polly's Orange Pierrot Costume
Polly's Orange Pierrot Costume was another hopeful from last fall.  I recall discussing the checks on the cuffs and lantern with a friend of mine, who then referred to it as checkerboard print.  Ah hah!  So I began searching in vain for a tiny orange and black checkerboard print and came up empty.  Before I even began this costume, I had to figure out how to make the checkerboard myself.  I fussed with this for almost two weeks until I was able to get the right combination of scale.  The first cuff set was large enough to fit Daisy and Lettie.  The second set was almost too small, but my own Polly owns these now.  The third set was appropriately in scale for both the cuffs and the lantern...and I'll never make checkerboard again!  I call it mini-quilting.

I use a decimal ruler for my measurements, and I found that .9 was the best in width, and 1.1 for length - taking in account the 1/8" seams needed to sew them together.  Determination is the key.  Also you had to back stitch the edges or they'd come apart when you turned the lined cuff inside out.  Those done, I moved on to the rest of the costume.

Sheila's Illustration
The Lantern
Polly's Orange Pierrot Costume consists of a bell shaped tunic and 3/4 length trousers. The double ruffle Pierrot collar is black satin and hooks in the back.  The hat, for lack of a better term, I'll call a country hat.  It is not a witch's hat, but a clown hat with turned up edges.  The pom-poms were another trial.  There was no way I was sewing polyester bag pom-poms on this costume!  For one, they didn't even look like the costume's pretty pom-poms.  So I learned how to make them myself, and did so out of wool yarn.  Satin silhouettes of bats decorate the hat and cuffs, with the addition of a witch and crescent shaped moon on the lantern.

The lantern is a soft sculpture.  Its base is both buckram and cardboard to hold the shape of the two cylinders.  This was another toughy.  I have to laugh as I'm writing this because "who is crazy enough to go to these lengths for a doll costume"?!  Me, I guess.  More checkerboard had to be sewn for this, and lucky me, I had enough length left over from the good cuffs!  The best way I can describe the construction is like a pillow case sewn up on the edge, then the two edges hidden ladder stitched together.  Now to get the lantern hung!  I threaded embroidery thread through the top, crossing the lengths to be centrally hung on a wire hook attatched to a pole.  Since the center cylinder was longer, this was not an easy task.

Puss In Pumpkin
To complete the picture, I asked Patty, once again (she's so wonderful to work with!), to make a couple of fat, black kitties standing on their hind legs for the pumpkins.  There is no such thing as a papier mache pumpkin without a top, that doesn't have a face carved into it.  I did find some nice ones though, and took a box cutter and set to taking the tops off.  Guess what I found beneath?  Plastic!  No wonder it was so hard to carve into.  A trusty can of Krylon paint and a day's worth of many layers produced the orange pumpkin for the Puss and Pumpkin display. 

The last third of this cup of tea has gotten cold.  The autumn wind blows the trees about in this pleasant, sunny afternoon.

Am I done with Halloween costumes?  Probably not.  There is yet one more I'd like to make, but this one will be for the French Fashion Portrait Jumeau (16 inches) doll when she arrives with a new shoulder plate.  It is likely I'll use the leftover kimono fabric for it, but then again, a pretty satin or even black velveteen might be nice.  Since she is a young lady doll, this costume might be my first outfit for her, and a new challenge.  Dressing lady dolls.

The Masks
Oh!  I almost forgot.  I was asked to make masks for my customer's Polly costume and her Lettie's Grape Harvest costume.  Polly's is rimmed in tiny pom-poms with a crescent moon and bat added to the corners.  Lettie got two.  One is on a stick (which I love since it is an accessory), and the other is a face mask.  Both have the leaves, but the stick also has a small cluster of grapes and the green vine winding down the stick.  This green vine was used to hang the grape clusters on the costume.

Below are lots of photos of the details. 

Miss E. Mouse

Fabulous Owl Hat

Back Sweep of Kimono
Underneath it all, a tulle slip.
Checkerboard Cuffs

Patty's Kitty
Lettie's Mask on Stick

Polly's Mask

Checkerboard Mess - Never again!
Costume for the Portrait Jumeau lady doll

1 comment:

  1. What a gorgeous and elegant costume for Miss Daisy, she's all set for the Halloween Costume Ball. You did a beautiful job on redesigning the pattern, you're a perfectionist!!! The owl hat is a pun intended!! I love everything about this outfit!! I love everything you do especially in the costume department! Happy sewing Miss E. Mouse