Friday, May 27, 2011

“Calloo callay, oh happy, happy day!” or, “How I saved myself two days of work…..potentially”

I was originally planning on either working on my partlet or stockings during the event tomorrow, but since neither of them have been drafted out, I went in search of some other project that would be useful.

I eventually remembered that I have a linen “V” kirtle that is nearly done, just needs rings sewn on (my least favorite bit, hence why it is still not done…..).  In digging around in my “To Be Finished” basket, I re-found my green bodice I worked on last year.  At the time, it didn’t fit at all, and the only reason I didn’t throw it away immediately was that I had put such work into the eyelets, I was loathe to part with it, even though I was very angry at myself for constructing such an ill-fitting bodice.

On a whim, I decided to try it on again – mostly to convince myself to finally throw or give it away, but lo and behold….the fitting issues I was struggling with last year seem to have magically disappeared! 


Hooray!!!  (I’m riding a bit, ahem….high in this pic, but I am wearing a tee, sweater, and a padded bra underneath….I think with just a chemise, it’ll be fitting quite grand.  I still need to test the theory, but I’m too tired right now.  Man, what is it with me posting so late at night and not caring because I’m too tired?!)

Now I have most of a kirtle already done!  (At least the bits that take me forever….I’m the worlds slowest eyelet-maker)  I’m thinking of wearing it underneath my loose purple ‘Turkoid’ gown, since I most certainly will not be going sans support.

Here is the bodice, next to the fabric for the loose gown….what do you think?  It certainly is not a combo that sounds great off the bat…..goose turd green and plum?  Like…..ew!  But in a weird way, I kind of think it works…..


If this old bodice will work, that will certainly take a load off my plate, and I will be super happy…..if the consensus is “Ew, Noelle, what are you thinking?!” I’ll whip up something else, and finish up this gown for something else fabulous.

Non Costume Related Post.......apologies!

Here is my pretty boy in the ring:

He won 1st in class (not that he had any competition at all), and 2nd in breed.....he was beat out by his grandpa!

Busy, busy day!


Today is TinyBarsky’s very first UKC show!

I first met him when he was just a wee pup who hadn’t yet seen the world….

He’s always been a bit of a hammy goofball, and that suits me just fine!

08-09-10 (9), web ready

He sure has grown a lot over the last few months, and has turned into quite a handsome little boy.

And he’s a momma’s boy, but I kind of like it that way…..


Phew….got that out of my system (for a minute, anyway!)

After the show, I need to get my butt kicked into gear, pack for the event tomorrow, and hopefully get some sort of project started at least enough to the hand work stage so I can be productive at the event.

Flag(ish) Fan

I was perusing my pictures from my recent NOLA vacation, and remembered I had seen a beautiful circular fan at the Beauregard-Keyes house.

I’m not sure if it’s wishful thinking, but I swear I’ve seen circular fans in some (Venetian?!) woodcut somewhere.  It’s killing me, because I can’t find it again, and I can’t tell if it’s a figment of my wishful imagination, or if I’m just overly tired and can’t search worth crap right now. 

Hopefully I’ll be refreshed tomorrow and can continue to look into it!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Final Chopine Update (!!!)

Finally, at long last, I was able to completely finish a project….I am so excited! (And my wrists are thanking me, too!) After weeks and weeks of unfinished projects, it feels so good to be able to completely check something off the list-O-doom.

I spent most of the day finishing up the sole and doing the decoration – which sounds like it wouldn’t take that long, but with having to run to the store, stopping to chat with friends, and being indecisive about the lace, it took a while!

My original plan was to do the very simple braid covering the seams like on my original inspiration chopines….however, the more I thought about it, the more I wanted to put more bling on them. I think they turned out quite nice for my first ever shoes, if I do say so myself!

There certainly are things that I would do differently if I were to do them again, but nothing that actually bugs me enough to worry about.

I thought about doing something boufty and cute on the straps, but I didn’t want things getting caught up in my petticoat, so I decided on a flat lace & a small medallion instead. I haven’t seen anything to directly support this mode of d├ęcor, and I’ve only seen one pair so far (much later period) that has the braid around the top… both those things are questionable, but I like the way it looks, so did it anyway. The upper braid also does double-duty of covering some of the bumpiness from the transition from the leather sole to the cork…in another pair, I will be more careful to shape that portion properly. I wouldn’t hate the way it looks without the braid, but it certainly does detract from that area…I didn’t realize it would show quite so much!

I can’t find my ‘real’ camera, so cell phone pictures it will have to be for the time being, but I can’t wait to post about them, so here they are!






And now for some foot shots!




And for good measure, here’s a couple of pics of my good friend Holly trying on my gown, complete with chopines:


It takes a little getting used to, but they’re relatively easy to walk in, and are very comfortable.

The biggest change I would make is some sort of angle to the foot bed…having them so flat almost makes me feel like I’m tipping backwards.

Another thing I would change is the angle of the curvature on the sides; which has always kind of bugged me throughout the project, but never was able to get quite right. (I am so glad I went back and took out the bulbousness of the sides….I doubt I would be nearly as happy now if I had not done so.) I was a little nervous about making the curve too drastic and weakening the integrity of the cork, so that may have to be something that happens with a wooden or high-density cork version.

All in all, I’m really quite pleased with them, and with myself for being able to do so many new things all in one project!

Chopines–Update II? III?

And here is the fruits of my labors….chopines that fit, and are relatively easy to walk in!  I still have the decoration to do, but they’re functional now, and that is quite a relief. 


I need to go out shopping (yet again) and grab as many gold brads as I can.  Because my gold lace is so thin, big huge upholstery tacks would look a bit….off.  (The picture below has a tack in the lower point right in the middle of the picture….it’s barely visible!)


I’ve been reminded to talk about my sources – I get so wrapped up in the project itself, those details seem to slip!

The fabulous website “Chopine, Zoccolo, and Other Raised and High Heel Construction” has been an invaluable resource.  It’s where I first found the idea of using cork yoga blocks as the base

That actually was one of the first diversions from the information provided therein – it was suggested to not use the blocks for chopines, but I felt that due to the minimal carving out involved, I’d risk the blocks in favor of the purse – the suggested cork was very cost-prohibitive, considering all the other projects pulling at my pockets.

My main reference was the lesson on chopine construction.  Specifically the most helpful was the information on sewing the sole, and the suggestion of using the bench grinder, which worked a charm, but in the end was very, very messy, and more than once took a large chunk out that I was not meaning to. 

If I were going to do chopines again, I’d use only a knife and an orbital sander with a rough grit.  (I used the sander when taking out the curve, and worked just as well as the grinder, but was much more maneuverable, and far less messy) 

Here is a brief list of some of my diversions from the information provided:

  • used cork yoga blocks instead of wood or high-density cork.  (So far, so good…..I’ll hope they don’t crumble away!)
  • used a butcher knife instead of a saw (the saw tore through the cork, whereas the knife made a relatively clean cut)
  • I made my chopines to be left/right rather than symmetrical – for no other reason than I didn’t remember that bit.  (d’oh!)
  • Patterning of the sole covering ended up being only 2, rather than 3 pieces, but that is likely due to the simpler geometry of my chopines.
  • I was very liberal with the use of a staple gun instead of stitching whenever possible (due to lack of hand strength, and massive pressure to finish as soon as possible!)

Hopefully I’ll have fully decorated chopines to photograph tomorrow….I just need to figure out what I’m going to do to the toe bit…I have the soles all figured out for now, that is until I change my  mind yet again!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011


Okay….it’s been a long day, but I’m close to the end!  (Hooray!)

I cut down the bulbous sides that were bugging me so much yesterday to create a flatter side.  I didn’t get the curve that I wanted, but at least it’s closer!

This is the soles stacked together to check that they’re matching up:


The pink lines are the center line, and the black lines are for strap positioning.

I didn’t take any pictures of the steps of gluing the velvet to the leather insole, punching holes, and sewing the vamps & sole coverings down, but here is what it looks like after being sewn down, glued to the sole, and staple-gunned down to the sole:  (You can tell I’m getting tired….I’m not so careful with my shot setups nowadays!)


After that, I covered the cork sole with fabri-tac, and smoothing the fabric over the sole.  I used push pins to hold the fabric snug against the cork.



I’ve stapled the fabric to the bottom of the cork, and cut off the excess (using my nifty applique scissors, btw)


I’m trying to be patient and let the glue dry before messing around with the seams, but I’m not sure how long I can hold out….I really want these to be done!

Chopines semi update

I reshaped the soles, and now my hands, wrists, forearms and biceps are all killing me! Tomorrow may be an Aleve day!

I'm really nervous about the vamps and covering, so I decided it was time to stop. Hopefully I come up with a solid plan by tomorrow!

I may need to grab some glue from the store, so yet again, I'm stymied by purchases!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Chopines–I do have an update!

I gave into temptation and only swept the floor….waxing can happen another day!

To recap, this is what I’m going for…something sexier than the Spanish style chopine, but less crazy that some of the later Italian chopines.

I am not a power tool expert, as I’ve found out, and my finished product certainly shows this. In carving out the base, I realized I probably wasn’t going to be able to achieve the curve….I just don’t have the finesse to do it, so plans changed half way through to a more bulbous hourglass shape. I’m not entirely convinced I love it, but I’ll keep thinking on it and I’ll see how it goes.

Here are the blocks straight out of the package:


I drew in the center lines on all surfaces to help with centering the sole pattern:


I carved a channel next to the sole outline to make it easier to cut:


Then started cutting off the excess:


Then flipped it over and did the same to the underside:


With all the cutting implements I tried, I found a small butcher knife to be the most efficient, oddly enough!

After all the cutting, I only had a rough shape outlined, and I have a whole pile of cuttings to show for it!


After that, I set up a grinder wheel to (what at the time) I had thought was to only finesse the outline. What I ended up doing is covering the entire garage and myself in a thick layer of cork dust. (I just got out of the shower…..I couldn’t even brush off that nasty dust…it stuck to everything!)

But after all that, here is what I ended up with. I’m not overly happy with them, but at the same time, it’s my first attempt at making chopines, and using power tools! (eeep!)


My feet are just a bit larger than the base, and I’m still trying to decide if I’m going to overlook the overhang, or go with the original plan of a stacked leather sole to compensate.


(I’m actually reconsidering the whole Spanish chopine idea….so much easier!)

EDIT: I'm going to take the trusty knife to them and see if I can't smooth out some of the bulbousness.....I'm not liking the shape so much right now.


As I have woefully neglected my abode these last few weeks, I have spent the morning getting everything back to some semblance of order….even if it is only the down stairs portion!

My cork blocks showed up today, and I’m really excited to get started on them, but I’ve promised myself that I will at least get the floor waxed and the collection of things off the stairs… I may or may not have an actual progress update today. (It just depends on how many times I get distracted by naughty dogs running away, doorbells ringing etc.)

The plan is to turn this:


Into this:


My toes hang over just about 1/2”, so I’m thinking up plans to stack leather on the sole to create a smooth curve that covers my entire foot. This is all still very much TBD, just my initial thoughts on the matter.

FYI – I wear a size 9, so these blocks should work with no mods for anyone size 8 or under no problem. I will update as I figure out how to solve my giant foot problem!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Shade Fly Update III

Most of the construction is done – I just need to do one more casing for the cross supports, and then it’s on to woodworking.  Because it ended up so much larger than I was originally anticipating, I may need additional poles in the middle, but that is still up in the air.  I want to set it all up as is and see if the sag is too much to ignore.  I tried stretching out the whole thing so I could show you all a picture of the completed project, but, alas, that may have to wait until set up, since it’s too large to photograph indoors!

As it got closer and closer to being done, it got more and more difficult to manhandle all the fabric, and boy, are my arms tired!  I finally hit on a method of folding up the shade fly lengthwise with only the seam I needed at the moment exposed, and then rolling up the rest, so I ended up with a ‘shade fly scroll’ that had to be adjusted every few feet or so.  With a larger sewing area and/or a helper, things would have gone much more quickly, but I got it done!


It took me all day to get to this point; between running all over town to find the correct bias tape, and my machine flatly refusing to sew; I’m sorry my poor machine, I’ll be nicer to you from now on, I promise! 

Oh, what I wouldn’t give for an industrial machine!  I’m never, ever sewing on this scale with my ‘nice’ machine again….I will certainly be hunting down an industrial if I ever am silly enough to do this again!  I had an awful time sewing over joins, and my machine regularly needed tension adjustments.  There are some seams that I’m still a bit nervous about, but there’s nothing to be done about it without a more heavy-duty machine on hand.

All in all, I was having a spectacular ‘dragon wing’ moment day.

For now, here's a picture of the finished stake loops…..of which I decided better to be safe than sorry and went a bit overboard on how closely they were spaced.


Shade fly–Update II

I should change the time stamp for this post!

The major construction of the front (most difficult) part of the shade fly is done!  (joyous noise)

As much as I want to continue on, I need to make sure I don’t slip into night owl mode!  I’m stopping at the point of sewing the dags on one side.  To complete the other side, I need to finish up more dags (and go get more bias tape….)  I guessed correctly, I was 1/3 short.

Okay, here is where I’m at:

The green flaps are pockets for the front supports.  I split them in the center so as to be able to tie stuff to the support.  (Like curtains!)  This picture is before I sewed everything down.


Here is the front stretched out a bit…I have the dags pinned on the right side, ready for me to work on in the morning.  I can’t wait to turn it all over to my hubby and let him finish it off!


G’night, all!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Fabulous video…..and great music, to boot!

"Gentlemen in Squalor" Top Shelf Jazz Directed by Alex Sufit from Lexitricity on Vimeo.

Shade Fly Update

I haven’t quite figured out how I’m going to be attaching the dags, but that will have to wait until hubby comes home so we can discuss construction specs.

I ran out of bias tape, but I think I have about 1/2 2/3 of them done. (19 green and 20 white) I completely raided my local JoAnns, so I’m going to have to hit up some other stores over the next few days to see if I can get more bias tape. (No way am I going to be making that much bias!)


For now, I’m sewing together the body of the shade fly. Oh. My. Gosh. I did not know what I was in for! I’m nearly done with sewing the first seam, and it’s taken quite a while to get to this point!

The full width of the shade fly will be green/white/green.


I want the dags to look something like this when done….I need to ponder on what would be the best way to attach them. Hmmmm…..any suggestions?


Productive Saturday

My good friend Jaquelinne came over yesterday, and it was quite the productive sewing day!  She finished off her bodice for her new side back lacing kirtle, and I got 8 curtains sewn.  (Sounds like I didn’t do much, but boy, hemming all four sides of enormous curtains takes a while!

This morning, I painted the hems of all eight curtains with ‘champagne gold’ fleur-de-lys.  The original plan was to do a ‘semy of fleurs’ look, but since the weather has been so craptastic, I couldn’t do it outside, so hems it is.  (My table isn’t big enough to accommodate an entire curtain!)

I painted on vertical of left and right for the ‘opening’, and may do more if there is time.

But for now, here’s the hems:


This morning I went out and bought a whole grundle of canvas to make the shade fly out of, and that is next up on the list.  I just need to figure out the math for it (with the help of hubby, since he’s doing the hardware for it), but until then, I’ll content myself with making as many dags as I can stomach!

Here are the colors for the shade fly:  (I had very nearly convinced myself to do all ‘natural’, but as there was only half the yardage I needed, that prompted me to throw in my favorite green into the mix)


I want to get as far as possible on the shade fly before my cork for the chopines show up, because who knows how long that’ll take!

Also, hopefully within the next day or two I’ll know about my die stamp for the cutwork so I can get back on the gown.  It’s killing me that it’s just sitting there, with no progress!