Laiv-kavalkade 2018

Det er den tiden igjen. Egentlig er jeg litt sent ute, men #livet….

Jeg får vel aldri laivet nok. Og så sitter jeg igjen og tenker at jeg har vært på lite laiv. Da er det veldig kjekt å kunne sette seg ned og gå gjennom minnene og innse at joda, jeg har vært der ute i år også.

I januar arrangerte jeg en liten middagsselskap-laiv, Clava Leonis – forlovet og forspist, der jeg spilte Beatrice Duke Saint-John, Logens førstedame, kone, mor og bestemor!

Det var også Aleksanders første, og foreløpig eneste, laiv

I april var jeg kokken Berte Sigvaldsen, gift med Knud, på Vargh 8 – Skyggen. Morsomt å være med på tv-produksjon til Blipp Show

I mai pakket jeg to biler og en henger for å dra på Horisont – Stille Voktere, og drive ambulerende verthus som Eliana Satius, fra Barossa, handelskvinne som eier og driver vertshuset Culina Gallina, gift med Hugo Satius, omreisende handelsfasilitator.

Det var en episk opplevelse å lage mat til over 40 mennesker på bålpanne.

I august dro jeg på Zombiegildet, som Nore, menneske fra teknologiordenen, livvakt for Professor Ademar Nahani, menneske i magiordenen.

I september kom årets store verk, Den Løse Øse, der jeg spilte helsprø halvalv Sultana Vitis, som eier og driver vertshuet Den Løse Øse i Trylletråkket, sammen med søsteren Druina, og brukte den gærne Epiphany-kjolen

I oktober og november samlet vampyrene seg til Elysium i Oslo by night, der jeg spilte Gabriella Lauritzen, livvakt for og childe av Doktor Ademar.

Photo by Kai Simonsen

Photo by Kai Simonsen

Det var det for laivåret 2018! Jeg har MASSE planer for 2019, men også for andre områder i livet, så vi får se hva som skjer. Stay tuned!

The Epiphany dress

I finished 3 sewing projects in 2018. I would have loved the number to be higher, but #life happened, and also, I started and completed my magnum opus to date, and now I want to share my process with you.

The pattern

In 2017 I was preparing a larp set in 1887, and I was browsing patterns. On ebay I found a seller that digitalises authentic Victorian patterns, sized to the buyers’ measurements. I bought one, without really understanding why this seller insisted on sending the pattern by mail, on a cd-rom. It became clear to me when the cd arrived, though, as it was packed with extra material, resources and patterns for accessories. Actually, four days before the larp I ended up making another dress from the collection of materials instead. But I was hooked, and wanted more. I found out the seller had even more patterns on etsy, and ended up scrolling through pages of beauty. When I later started planning a larp set in 1888, I soon fell in love with the pattern for… a wedding dress. I even bought silk, real silk, expensive silk, in gold, not white. It wasn’t really going to look like a wedding dress, I just liked the silhouette.

I knew I would have to make at least one mock up, and a trial dress. It scared the courage out of me. So I procrastinated.

The material and the name

Some time before this a friend of mine was visiting, and brought a crazy printed cotton fabric, 7 whole meters, that her mother wanted to be rid of. It was epic, in bright pink colors, patterned with the three wise men. I gladly adopted it, and now an idea came to me. I was also going to organize a Harry Potter-inspired larp set in a magic inn run by a couple of crazy dark fairy sisters, and this would be the perfect opportunity to give this pattern a trial run, with this grande fabric.

I spend way too many late nights pondering fitting, meaningful names for my projects, and I don’t mind a good pun. I actually asked my vast heap of Instagram followers for suggestions, and one of the few was “crazy ass bustle gown”, which indeed is fitting for both shape, fabric and magnitude of work. However, I wanted the name to refer to the fabric pattern, and after some light googleing I found out the three wise men have their own day; epiphany day. And there it was – the name: The epiphany dress. It also fits because of all the things I’ve learned in the process of making and wearing it. 

At a sale at my local fabric store I bought 10 metres of chintz in a indefinite color in the pink-red spectrum, with a nice sheen to it. It matched the crazy fashion fabric, and would do well as foundation skirt, interfacing, lining, contrasts and stuff.

Overskirt – front drapery and train

I would absolutely recommend the patterns from Ada Rose Patterns on etsy. However, you have to be aware of a few things. They are authentic, and they come with the original instructions… only the original instructions. Victorians most likely had a whole other set of skills, knowledge and experience with sewing of their time than we do, so instructions aren’t always that instructing.

It is really hard to explain the struggle I had with this process, and in retrospect I don’t understand why it took me so long, what held me back? I was planning to do this during Easter, during summer, I was on maternity leave, I had all the time in the world. I just couldn’t get myself to do it. I was planning, I wrote lists, and went through it in my head over and over again. I had gathered the patterns and the materials. I just couldn’t get myself to cut the actual pieces.

A bare month before I went back to work I finally attacked this overskirt, that had grown into a terrifying monster in my head. You see (or maybe not), the train, it’s just a square, that you fold in a couple of places, and it’s done. I could not for the life of me wrap my head around it being that simple, there had to be something more to it, something I couldn’t see, that only skilled and experienced Victorians would know, and it scared me into just putting it off.

Well, long story (surprisingly) short; the train took me about 3 hours, including hemming. I had long since decided to make it a whole lot shorter than the picture, as this was a test, I had a limited amount of fabric, and I was going to put it on and wear it it in a small cabin in the woods.

I had researched balayeuses, or dustruffles, that were worn under long trains in the Victorian era, and I am going to make one for a train coming the right occasion. This, however, was not it. I settled for a hem facing. It’s hard enough getting to big layers of fabric lying smooth and even with each other, but I was fairly happy with the result, helped by spray glue and a thousand pins.

When the whole thing was done I realized I had made my typical error due to impatience, and not measured twice, so the skirts were shorter than I had planned, meaning the train would have been perfectly fine without the hem (and it might not even qualify as a train), but I was happy with the work, and the whole point of this dress was to practice period techniques for the real deal. I learned something, so it was worth it.

Another technique I utilised was lining the hem with horsehair-braid. The pattern calls for a panel of crin in the train, in the section I decided to leave out, but the purpose was to stiffen the train so it would lay flat in the back, and horsehair did the same trick. I used horsehair in the hem of the foundation skirt as well.

The front drapery was a little more complex, as the pattern had lines, x’s and o’s, and the instructions weren’t all that helpful. I read, re-read, asked my friends, the Facebook groups, the seller and the google. It still didn’t make much sense. I realised I would have to just cut a toile, put the markings on and experiment until it looked somewhat like the picture. It took a couple of tries, but in the end I declared myself contempt (yay, points!). It it still just a square (with one small incision) strategically folded. 

 

Foundation skirt

A month or so before the larp we had a Bobbinette sewing night, and I brought all my stuff, including the chintz. However, my friend was cleaning out her fabric storage closet, and found some very fancy light blue poly satin with embroidered vines (that she once upon a time got from me), and we all realised it would be so much more perfect. So that night I actually cut and sew the foundation skirt.

Well back at home I cut and hemmed strips of the fabric, that I planned to ruffle, but the ruffle foot I had bought wouldn’t fit my machine anyways, and my usual technique of sewing with wide stitches and tension on max for some reason didn’t work either, so I ended up pleating the ruffle. It had a nice effect. At this point the larp was closing in, and my friends had started reminding me this was a test, and it would be elaborate either way, so I didn’t need the extra stress of embellishments. I started to realize they were right, and left the ruffle as it was.

The ruffle panel

I have learned so much about constructing Victorian outfits with this dress. One of the greatest epiphanies (pun intended) is that; “yes, it is as simple as draping a square piece of fabric into poofy shapes.” 

The other is; those impressive layers of layers of ruffles get even more impressive when I learned that they’re actually just a small panel just underlapping the visible parts. Before I started I imagined hemming and ruffling miles and miles of narrow strips of fabric to make up the ruffled foundation skirt. Boy, was I surprised (and somewhat relieved) when the pattern instructed me to sew just a few ruffles on a panel just a few inches wide.

I wanted to use as much as I could of the gold lace, since when am I ever going to use it again?  I also wanted to use more of the blue fabric. So why not use both? Yes, why not?!?

Underwear

I realise I should address this subject, as a major discovery for most period costumers is how essential the right underpinnings are for the right look.

The other bobbinettes have shared on their Instagrams that they always start with making the appropriate underpinnings. I wish… yes, I really wish, and always have ambitions to do so to. I have followed through once. I made a pretty nice petticoat for my 1890s larp in 2014. I had to make a few impromptu «pin tucks» at the last minute, because it was way to long (error: measure twice), and I have had plans to remake it ever since, but have ended up using it for everything, since it actually works very well, and both feels and looks good. I also have made a lobster cage bustle. I have plans for combinations and chemises and corset covers galore… someday. I, however, also have a life, two kids, a boyfriend, and stress-induced anxiety. So these last couple of years I made some hard priorities, and with them the decision to outsource, meaning I throw money at my fellow bobbinette who loves sewing these detailed, intricate (aka boring) things a lot more than me. She has made me the nicest ruffled bustle petticoat (say it fast 10 times) and soft, nice combinations.

Also, her fate became my fortune, when she made herself a gooooorgeus Victorian corset, and then realised she wasn’t done losing her baby weight. I had gained back everything I lost during my pregnancy, and then some, and the aforementioned corset fit me PERFECTLY! So, I was all set under-wise, and ready to drape the bodice. (but of course, I have no pictures of myself in saucy underwear…)

The bodice

I still had the biggest job left; understanding, cutting and draping the bodice. So I went to my friend’s house, bringing only supplies and pattern for this one, daunting task, to limit distractions.

This bodice had a lining in a pretty basic shape, and then a huge piece of fashion fabrics was going to be draped on top of that for a nice fold and wrap effect. My test actually went pretty good and the next few days went into cutting and draping the fashion fabric onto the lining, deciding on edgings and decorations and trying to figure out the closure. There were some lines and markings on the pattern I didn’t understand, and the instructions didn’t say anything about how it’s actually supposed to be closed, so I had a 12 message long conversation with the seller, who is super helpful, but also came to a halt at a point, and then I just had to wing it.

I put the bodice on and took it off about 17 times, and it ended up different every time. My mantra was still «this is a test», so the final result has a pushbutton and two hooks at the bottom edge, and two pins holding the layers together. I also had help of another discovery about historical fashion: the waist band. No matter what, this thing will keep you decent.

After the larp I had an epiphany (lol) about that one line in the pattern that I had discussed with the group and the seller, so I am going to make another mock up where I remove a piece outside that line, and I have a fairly clear idea about how that will make it possible to close the one side and the lining of the other with hooks and eyes.

 

(Removing the piece behind my hand on one side)

This decor of this glorious creation also called a bodice kind of just developed as I worked. I decided to use the same lace as the ruffle panel to decorate the sleeves, along with the fabric from the foundation skirt for the pouf. My friend had supplied me with some glorious pink flowers that I glued on (yep!) as the cherry blossom on top (and front and back).

The hat

I was done. The dress was as finished as it was going to be, I was as satisfied as I could be (working on that, #perfectionista), and the larp was only a few days away and I needed to pack.

However, I have made the decision/promise that every character I play will have their own headpiece. My friend offered to help and I started to play around with ideas. My vision was a classic Victorian hat, but with the crown going up into a point, like a witches hat. On my way home I was pondering solutions that would be cool, but also quick, when I realised I had the perfect solution, namely this McCalls fascinators pattern.

Of course, I couldn’t find that one little piece of extra strong stabilizer I know I have somewhere in my stash, so I had to go to the local quilt store and buy whatever they had. It kind of worked, and that same evening I had a hat!

(The day after I actually received the pink witch’s hat from wish, and the day after the larp I found the stabilizer, but hey….it’s a test ;))

As you can see, the parts of this dress was absolutely not made from inside out, I think it actually was made in this order: simplest to hardest, and embellishments in the end.

So, with no further ado (because it’s been more than enough, and if you’ve been with me all the way you indeed deserve it): several pictures of this crazy ass epiphany dress, worn by Sultana Vitis, crazy dark fairy innkeeper at The Loose Ladle inn at Trick Trail.

This one photo is taken by Frederik Vestre, permission given to post with due credit

 

And in the end a couple of bonus pictures.

First I have to show you how my fellow bobbinette put the cherry (flower) on top of my outfit with here beautiful crocheations, the cutest flower, and the most gorgeous puch to wear at the waist, which is definitely coming with me for other larps!

And as the grand finale of this wall of crazy: 4/5 bobbinettes where participating in the magic market at Trick trail that weekend, and we managed to capture them with a camera. This is a seldom treat, so ENJOY! Of course, I wasn’t wearing the Epiphany dress in this picture, but my character’s poofy pastel cotton candy wedding dress. The other bobbinettes are wearing self made creations, which may or may not end up being blogged here at some point.

All photos taken by me, all rights reserved, permission given by subjects