Tuesday, February 26, 2013

The One Expected Party

Look, it's Elaine and I in the very front, about to see Merry and Pippin come onstage to serenade us all! [source]

I've been wandering around in a haze the last couple of days, still in disbelief that I got to attend the Hobbit Oscar party. In a year of magical doings, this is definitely raising the bar for fun events -- I mean, I was two feet away from Dominic Monaghan! But let me back up and start at the beginning (apologies for yet another picture-heavy post):

Elaine and I got dressed after a hasty lunch, and then Mr. Cation took some picture of us in our costumes in front the now all too familiar Door of Moria. Here we are showing off our fabulous sleeves. 
The party was held at the American Legion in Hollywood, an appropriately Rohirric-looking building. There was a huge dragon tail hung outside, as well as an inflatable pub. 
As we went in, an elven guard welcomed us to The One Expected Party.
The lobby had a huge statue of Gollum with his fish!
Wandering around the hallways was not unlike wandering the goblin caves, what with the random spiderwebs and piles of treasure and bones. 
The main Oscar broadcast hall featured a huge cave troll peering over the sound booth! 
A shieldmaiden in her natural habitat: I told you the building was appropriately Rohirric!

It's really too bad that the Hobbit nominees didn't win in any of their categories. I didn't actually see Life of Pi, so I can't speak to whether they deserved the VFX award, but I did see Les Mis and The Hobbit definitely deserved the Makeup and Hair award more! I mean, hand-punched eyebrows and beards, all the prosthetics for the dwarves, those orcs...so much more incredible than dirty Frenchmen. But then, I might also be a bit biased. Fortunately, immediately after the disappointing Oscars, we were entertained by One Man LOTR and Beecake, among other things. 

Before Beecake actually performed, Dominic Monaghan and Billy Boyd entertained us with their ridiculousness (and some singing, too). 

At one point, Billy actually sang Pippin's song from ROTK; unfortunately, I only caught part of it on my phone. 

To help us remember our epic night, we got to take photos at the photobooth, which had a green screen and assorted props. I was inordinately excited to find a Rohirric-looking shield and sword. 

We seem to be trying to kill Gwaihir here, for some unknown reason. 
We took a more normal picture, too. 

Anyway, I'm so incredibly grateful for having had the opportunity to do this. It's definitely a once in a lifetime experience, and Mr. Cation was very gracious about my spending all the money for the ticket, the time making my costume and Elaine's, and the added bulk of three large boxes that we'll need to move up to SF. Oh wait, what's that about the three boxes? Well, guess what: I never win anything and yet I somehow managed to win the raffle and get these three special edition boxed sets of the LOTR trilogy! I've lusted after these since college, when I was too poor to afford them, and now they're finally miiiiiine, all mine, my precious.

So exciting! This more than makes up for all the years of never winning anything. 
So bright...so beautiful...
Walnut does his best scary-Bilbo impression. He wants the boxed sets for himself!
Seriously, this was the most horrifying thing ever. Especially when I saw it for the first time in theaters. 
Besides having the extended edition DVDs with all the extra features, each set comes with a bonus figurine -- the Argonath bookends in the FOTR, a Gollum statuette in TTT, and a Minas Tirith jewelry box in ROTK. Walnut was intrigued by the tiny city and did his best fell beast impression. Imagine a Nazgul scream to go with that face. 

Actually, those pictures were just because Walnut was conveniently yawning when I took the picture.

I love that in this picture, it looks like Gollum is scared that Walnut will take his fish away. 

Many thanks, too, to TheOneRing.net for putting on such a fabulous party! I'm so excited for the next movie to come out in December...especially because we'll get to see Smaug!

Once night fell, they projected a giant blinking eye of Smaug onto the wall outside. Can't wait!!!

Monday, February 25, 2013

For Your Viewing Pleasure

...just a little video of Dominic Monaghan (Meriadoc Brandybuck) singing The Beatles' "Come Together" at the The One Expected Party last night, with the help of an envelope with the lyrics written on it. I feel like I'm a teen with a celeb crush all over again!

More pictures (and videos) of our Oscar night shenanigans later!

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Shieldmaiden-ing It Up

There's not much else to say about my Eowyn outfit, since I've already talked at length about both my inspiration and my process here. I don't have an exact final count for hours used, though I'll guess that it was about forty hours total, including the belt-making and all. I'm so excited about how the whole thing looks and moves! I made Mr. Cation do a mini photo shoot with me up on the roof of the parking structure...it's the closest we're going to get to a wide open, uncluttered space here in TCOCC. Seriously, there are not enough halls like Meduseld in this city. This is a sore lack that needs to be remedied immediately. Despite the lack of Rohirric architecture, I still managed to end up with waaay too many photos I liked; choosing just a few for this blog post was so difficult!

Mr. Cation tried really hard not to let any modern vehicles make it into these photos. I really liked this one, though, because the wind caught my sleeve at just the right time. 
I seriously can't get over how much I like these sleeves.
There's a slight train at the back of the very full skirt. 
I am so pleased with this outfit!

Tomorrow's Oscar party will hopefully be epic! I'm just bummed that The Hobbit isn't up for more awards. In the meantime, though, I'll entertain a fool's hope that somebody with Hollywood costume connections will see my costume and hire me to work on a something!

A closer look at the lacing strips at the back and the cording. 

I really like the pointy sleeve detail. The pattern actually called for the lower sleeve to be lined, but that would've made for six layers of fabric at the seam where the bell sleeve and lower sleeve join the upper sleeve, so I decided to do away with the lining. I ended up totally reshaping the sleeve to fit my arm, since the original pattern was super loose and long. 

My lingerie strap holder and hand-overcast sleeve seam allowance. Thanks to all of you who suggested solutions for getting the wide neckline to stay in place!
I added a pair of cable ties to the lacing strips to keep them from bunching up. You can also see the necklace clasp I used to join the belt at the back. 

My simbelmyne-ish Forever 21 necklace! I forgot to put in the matching earrings for this shoot, though. 

I'm pretty sure this dress wins for the most satisfying thing I've ever made. It's rare that something turns out exactly as one hopes, but somehow this hit all the marks, both budget-wise and matching-up-with-my-imagination-wise. And because a full skirt like this just begs for twirling...

I'm sorry that this is such a picture heavy post, but I just like this dress so much!

It flaps around so satisfyingly as I march into the sunset. 
Off to kill the Witch King of Angmar...see you all post-Oscar party! 

Friday, February 22, 2013

February Stashbusting Challenge Link Party!

Stashbusters, it's time to show off how generous you are how much you've used your stash to show love to others. And don't forget, since this month was a CHALLENGE, one project will win some fun prizes and bragging rights!

If you have any questions about how the voting or linking work, let me know. And if you didn't make anything for others, hey, that's fine too! It won't be eligible for our little contest, but you can still add it to the Flickr pool.

You can also start thinking about what you want to do for March's theme: the impending seasonal change! This way, those of you in the Northern Hemisphere can make something light and springy, and those of you in the Southern Hemisphere can make something cozy and autumnal.  Those of you living at the equator where it's the same all year round, well, I guess you can't play then...just kidding!

Lastly, this isn't stashbusting, but it's still sewing for someone else, so I'm including it in this February post: I put one of Mr. Cation's ties on a diet! See, he's had this normal-width whale tie for ages, and even though he only wears skinny ties, he's never donated it because well, tiny green whales. Need I say more? So for Valentine's Day this year, I took a quick one hour break from my shieldmaiden dress and skinnified the tie for him. It was very easy to do; I followed this tutorial and was really pleased with how professional it looks...at least, as professional as tiny whales can ever be.

Why am I wearing this tie, Mom? 
No, seriously, why? It's ridiculously long on me. 
A closer look at the whales: look, they're even smiling!
Walnut's not smiling, though...he's just confused. 

I didn't think to take a before picture until after I'd already cut it open and started slicing off the extra width, but I'm sure you know what a wide tie looks like! Anyway, now I'm excited that I can bring home wide ties from the thrift store in outrageous prints, and then just redo them to be a more trendy size. I feel like the whole world is open to me now!!

Walnut is not thrilled with the prospect of having to model more ties. 

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Where My Sewasauruses At?

Readers, if you haven't heard about Vicki the Sewing Scientist's Map the Sewintists project, go check it out! This is for all the times you've wondered if there were any other people in your area who are as obsessed with sewing as you are, or even if you're traveling to a new place and want to know who to ask about where all the best fabric shopping is. So far I'm the only one in TCOCC, but regardless of where you're located, go add yourself in! Read the directions carefully, though, because the first time I did this I accidentally moved somebody else's pin.

And for those of you who have been busting the heck out of your stashes for those you love, I'll be putting up a linky party tomorrow so that you can add your February challenge projects! You'll also have a chance to vote for your favorites, although Emily and I will reserve the right to make the final decision. I'm excited to choose -- the projects on Flickr have been especially awesome!

Monday, February 18, 2013

February Stashbusting: The Happy Recipient

I really wanted to have finished sewing another stash piece into a garment for someone else, but alas, life got in the way of my plans. Instead, have some quick iPhone pictures of the skeleton corset on its intended owner!

These were taken at night in pretty bad lighting, so they really aren't great. I swear, my sister's skin is not actually orange. 

I started freaking out when I noticed that the back lacing gap wasn't even, until I realized that she was wearing it a bit high. Once it was adjusted to the proper location, it laced up the way it should. 
Emily tries not to laugh (and I try not to shake the phone) when she realizes how hard it is to pose naturally for blog pictures. 

I'm so glad that it fit my sister and she's happy with it! This marks the first time I've really ever sewn successfully for someone based only on measurements, without any fitting during the process. I'm glad that this was successful, because I've got some pretty major sewing projects coming up for long-distance friends.

First off, something like this purple lace dress for my dear friend Shayna, for a professional photoshoot:
I've got the perfect purple lace in my stash, courtesy of Meg the Grand!

As if that wasn't scary enough, my best friend Elaine, who possibly has more faith in my skills than is warranted, asked me to make her wedding dress for her. I'm beyond flattered, honored, and scared out of my mind, as this is what she chose as her inspiration:

Ack! Dear readers, wish me luck -- it's going to be a challenging next couple of months!

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Historical Sew Fortnightly: Embellishment

Can I still count it as an historical embellishment project if it's not entirely period-accurate? I took my plain dark green shieldmaiden gown and added braided trim and a medallion belt.

I cannot for the life of me set in sleeves properly. 

The gown is loosely based on Eowyn's dark green gown from The Two Towers, which in turn is loosely based off of the medieval cotehardie or bliaut.

"A fresco depicting the story of 'the foolish virgins' from Castel d'Appiano in Trentino Alto Adige, Italy:
See the long flowing sleeves and the tight waists." [source]

Medieval women hunting. Not sure how they managed with trains and long flowy sleeves...[source]
A snowball fight in a dark green dress with gold trim, from an Italian fresco, dated to 1400-1407. [source]

As a historical project, this dress fails on a lot of counts -- like oh, the fact that it's constructed from cotton bedsheets -- but to the extent that I could, I tried to find examples to back up my choices. I took artistic license with princess seams and the slit up the middle of the bell sleeves, but kept the tight bodice, wide neckline, wide skirt with a train, and impractically huge sleeves over a tighter undersleeve.

The neck is so wide it doesn't stay on my shoulders very well. The necklace I found to go with it is just a cheap gold-colored one from Forever 21, but I thought the flowers looked vaguely like simbelmyne. 

For the trims, I kept the green and gold combination of my inspiration outfit, but did my research backwards. See, one of the first things you learn about how to study the Bible is not to go in with a preconceived idea, and then look for verses to back you up. Rather, you approach with an open mind and see what the Bible actually has to say. Well, I've got my costume hermeneutics all wrong, as I went ahead and picked out a trim, then went back to paintings that were vaguely contemporary and tried to find ones that would support my choice.

This painting of some dude from 1460 shows a black and gold braided trim that looks similar to mine. [source]
This painting of the Infanta Catalina Micaela de Austria from 1585 (I know, totally the wrong time period) shows a medallion belt of sorts. Actually, it might not even be a belt; it might just be trims at the waistline of her dress. [source]
And here's a closer look at my medallion belt:

It was really hard to photograph the medallions of the belt (okay, I wasn't really trying very hard and just snapped these pictures quickly), but they're a slightly different shade of gold than the trims, and both are slightly different from the gold in the necklace. The perfectionist in me is bothered by the three clashing shades of gold, but then I have to remind myself that nobody's going to be looking that closely, and the party won't be happening in broad daylight so the lighting will be more forgiving. 
The medallions I ordered were originally individual "antiqued brass" filigree pieces. I ended up coloring each of them with a gold metallic calligraphy pen to get them to be gold-colored, instead of a dirty gray-brown. I then used a whole lot of jump rings to put them all together into a belt. I know it hardly counts as jewelry-making, but I am so pleased with how this belt turned out. Even Mr. Cation was impressed and really liked the final product, and he's got some pretty high standards!  

Just the facts, ma'am:
The Challenge: #4 -- Embellishment
Fabric: Dark green 100% cotton king-sized flat sheet...squeezing in all my huge pattern pieces was the most mentally taxing part of the whole project! The bell-shaped oversleeves are lined with part of a light gold-green cotton sheet.
Pattern: Butterick 4571, a costume pattern if ever there was one, considering that one of the fabric recommendations is panne velvet...at least there isn't a zipper at the back.
Year: Modern
Notions: 4 yards of gold and black braided trim, 24 metal filigree medallions, lots of 1/4" brass jump rings, 26 metal eyelets for the back lacing
How historically accurate is it? Hah. Hahaha...yeeeaaahhh. I'm just going to laugh awkwardly and move on to the next question. I'm only including this as a HSF project because it's in the spirit of the challenge. Kind of.
Hours to complete: I'm still not done with the dress, as I need to hem it and sew on the lacing strips in the back. The embellishment, though, took a good five+ hours to hand-stitch the arm trim since it wouldn't fit around my machine's free arm, and I brilliantly decided that I wanted two rows of braid. The belt took another two hours, but with lots of breaks so as to avoid poisoning myself with fumes from the ink.
First worn: I'll be wearing it for the TORN party on Oscar night!
Total cost: $4 for the sheets, $3 for the eyelets, $10 for the belt materials, and the braided trim was free from Wholeport.com, as part of a prize from a contest two years ago. $17 total for a vaguely historical-flavored gown.

I know, I know, I'd make a terrible fashion historian. Hey, I'm just going to pull evidence from the wrong gender and the wrong time period, and do it all after I've already made my choices. Good thing this is just a costume!