Breaking Radio Silence

I’m very sorry for the radio silence in recent months.  As any long-term followers of my work are aware, my health can make my pace of work rather slow, and sometimes unpredictable.  I did a lot of things in the early part of 2016, enough so that I severely burnt myself out and set back my healing by a significant amount.  That resulted in nearly four months of debilitating fatigue and extremely low activity.  In the past few weeks I’ve finally been starting to feel more like I did before wearing myself out, so I’ve been trying to put energy into the adulting things that have been ignored, like house cleaning.  It’s slow, and nothing my readers need to know about in detail, but I have been moving fairly consistently again.

I have worked on a couple things during those months, but I have not been able to get good photographs of the first one, another hand-sewn Viking underdress.  Fingers crossed that I’ll manage it in the next couple months.  I did take some good detail photos of inserting a skirt gore into a slash by hand, so I will be able to write a short tutorial on that.  The second project is another Viking hood on which I am doing experiments, and I’m not sure if it’s turning out OK or if it’s ugly as sin.  I will post photos when I’m a bit further into it and you’ll be able to see what I am attempting.  Fingers crossed that that one turns out decent looking when it’s done.  I also did a small amount of weaving, which I should photograph and share with you as well, whenever I get around to that.

 

Some Workshops!

On September 24th and 25th, I will be at Collegium of the Desert teaching four different classes.  It’s an SCA event, so medieval costume and theme all around.  These are all classes I have taught before, but I needed to make new kits and I significantly revised by Basics of Opus Anglicanum article.  On Saturday I will be teaching how to pattern and make t-tunics and tunic dresses, and how to hand sew seams, both in the afternoon.  On Sunday I will be teaching Elizabethan Freehand Blackwork in the morning, and Opus Anglicanum embroidery in the afternoon.

This means I hope to restart the Opus Anglicanum stitch-along very soon.

This week I’ve also been revisiting the Spoonflower fabrics and blackwork embroidery designs.  I have sold only a handful of pieces of the first two prints, so I decided any commission I make on Spoonflower fabrics will just go back into buying samples of more prints.  Over the summer I did set up and order samples of nine more fabric designs, five of which work great as they are, and four of which had to be revised because they had too heavy a line weight to easily embroider over.  I’m also looking at how to digitally create more detailed blackwork designs for more dynamic fabrics, wallpaper, and giftwrap to use as-printed.  The next fabric design is already publicly visible, so if you want to go take a look you can find it here.  In the very near future I will be making a post highlighting just that fabric, and I hope to release a new fabric every 1-2 weeks thereafter.

 

So, in summary, downtime is dull and results in nothing interesting to post, but I’m back on the mend, so I hope to have lots of new things to share with you in the months to come.

Clockwork Alchemy 2015 Recap

Sidney and Diana - Clockwork Alchemy 2015Thank you once again to everyone who helped make my trip to Clockwork Alchemy this year a success.  Diana and I both had a wonderful time, we got to see lots of friends, and both the panel and workshop were well attended and well received.  I’m very happy we made it, and hope we make it out again next year.

We drove out on Thursday afternoon, and stayed with a friend on Thursday night, saving us one night’s expense at the hotel and ensuring that I didn’t start the weekend sleep deprived.  We made it out to the convention hotel before 10am, in time to catch the SteamWomen panel, which was scheduled in the first time slot on the first day of the convention.  If you’re not familiar with it, SteamWomen is a blog dedicated to highlighting the amazing women makers, artists, and creators in the steampunk community.

Diana was fighting a migraine that started on the drive out, so after we got our hotel room she took a nap in the dark and I headed back out to see live acoustic music sets in the tea parlor.  I got to drink lovely tea while being serenaded by Nathaniel Johnstone with Dogwood and Tempest, Unwoman, and Captain John Sprocket of The Cog is Dead.  I hadn’t expected to stay for the entire afternoon, but that’s exactly what I did.  That evening Diana and I both attended the Wind-Up Cabaret where Dogwood performed a set of her own music (something I had been looking forward to), as did Frenchy and the Punk, and Unwoman.  I greatly enjoyed all the music sets leading up the performance of Any Moment Now, a steampunk musical written by Nathaniel Johnstone and Alyssa Rosenbloom.  After the performance we chatted briefly with friends before retreating to our hotel room to unwind and go to sleep.

Saturday we perused the vendor room and milled about before the panel Recognizably Victorian-Esque, which was presented by Yuly Springer of Butterfly Frillies Corsets, Diana, and myself.  We got to prattle on about Victorian foundation garments and silhouettes, and ways to recreate those features in steampunk garb to achieve immediately recognizably Victorian influence.  The panel immediately following was all about how to tie ties, bowties, and ascots, so of course Diana and I stuck around to try our hand at it.

After that we headed back up to the hotel room so I could finish putting together the base patterns for the corset drafting workshop on Sunday.  We had intended to head back downstairs for the Saturday concert, but instead we just stayed in the hotel room and relaxed.  I am grateful for the ability to have the hotel room, because the option of resting instead of being stuck out in the convention made a huge difference in how well I fared throughout the weekend.

Sunday was the fashion show, which of course I wasn’t going to miss!  It was fabulous.  :)

After the fashion show I had to go back up to the room and grab all my materials for the corset pattern alteration workshop.  We had a full house, with a few people choosing to work on the floor since there was not enough table space.  Lots more people poked their heads in, but quickly realized there wasn’t enough capacity in the room for more attendees, and as it was Diana dn I spent most of the three hours moving around the room talking to people and helping them along with their particular situation.  For the first hour there was a lot of confusion, but everyone followed along with the instructions as faithfully as they could.  Then we got far enough for the Ah-Ha! moments to start occurring, when the setup we had done for the first part of the workshop started to result in actual drafting.

No one actually finished a pattern, but I believe I succeeded in providing them with the tools they need to finish the patterns at home.  A number of people were able to get pretty far along, and before we reached the end of the workshop time a lot of attendees had already reached information overload.  Overall, I was extremely happy with how to workshop went, and if I make it back to Clockwork Alchemy next year I’ll be sure to offer it again, only next year I will have a handout as well.  All of the material I covered in the workshop is from a tutorial I am writing, and hope to have finished in the next couple months.

I was completely exhausted after the workshop, but the day didn’t end there.  We ran into other friends I didn’t even know were at the convention, chatted for a while and made plans to meet on Monday, and made it out for the all-con photo before retreating to our room once more.  I would have loved to attend the Sunday night concert, but I was too tired.

Monday we met back up with our friends, attended a panel on Victorian serial killers one of them presented, said our goodbyes, and hit the road heading back for Las Vegas.

All in all, it was an incredible weekend, as always.

Corset Pattern Alteration Workshop

Date: May 24, 2015, 3-6pm
Location: San Jose, CA, USA
Event name: Corset Pattern Alteration Workshop at Clockwork Alchemy
Further info: http://www.clockworkalchemy.com/

The workshop is free for anyone attending the Clockwork Alchemy or Fanime conventions. You must have a convention pass valid on Sunday to attend. Clockwork Alchemy is a steampunk themed portion of the convention, held at the DoubleTree Hotel near the airport.

The workshop will have a few patterns to use as a starting point, which attendees will modify to fit their measurements. It is my hope that every attendee will have enough time to create a custom tailored pattern to take home with them.  The instructions given will be based on the tutorial I am writing on corset pattern alteration.  I am not certain when the tutorial will be finished and published online.

Basics of Opus Anglicanum Embroidery

Detail of English Altar Frontal, 1315-35

Detail of English Altar Frontal, 1315-35

I have posted a new tutorial, Basics of Opus Anglicanum Embroidery.  It outlines the stylistic details that make opus anglicanum embroidery unique, and provides instructions in the basics of how to emulate the style in your own embroidery.  It’s an online version of a handout I have created for an opus anglicanum workshop I will be giving at Collegium Caidis, a teaching event with the Society of Creative Anacronism, happening May 16-17, 2015.  The handout, Basics of Opus Anglicanum Embroidery (pdf), may be distributed for free, unaltered, for educational purposes.

 

Kit and Stitch-Along

Opus Anglicanum Kit Pattern, by Sidney Eileen

Opus Anglicanum Kit Pattern

To accompany the workshop, I am creating a kit, and will also be doing a stitch-along blog as I embroider the kit for myself.  I am not going to be selling any kits, and they will not be available through my web site, but I will provide all the information needed to create your own kit.

The image to the right is the one I will be using for the kit, about 2″ wide.  It is based on one of the drawings in the Codex Manesse, a German manuscript created between 1300-1340.  It will be drawn on handkerchief weight linen, to provide as many threads per inch as possible.  I will be purchasing the threads for the kit through the Japanese Embroidery Center Store.  If you want to use exactly the same threads I will have in my kit, they are listed below.  However, you can use whatever colors you would like from any brand of flat silk.  If you want to use Soie Ovale thread, or just different colors of the JEC thread, be sure to choose a light peach for the skin, black thread, white thread, two dramatically different shades of hair color, three shades of a color for the cloak, and three shades of color for the tunic.  You will also need gold(en) thread, #5 at the largest.

Achromatic (White) #801 – eye & barbette
Achromatic (Black) #809 – outlines & pupil
Peach #211 – skin
Orange Brown #723 – hair
Orange Brown #727 – hair
Blue #504 – cloak
Blue #507 – cloak
Blue #509 – cloak
Plum #684 – tunic
Plum #686 – tunic
Plum #688 – tunic
Imitation Gold #5 (IG-5) – crown, clothing trim, frame

 

Project: Opus Anglicanum Stitch-Along

 

Copper Bustle and Other Belated Stuff

This blog has been pretty quiet for several months.  This is due in part to my health, but also a result of issues I’ve been having with my web site returning database errors, no data errors, and generally hideously slow page load speeds, all of which made updating this site a painfully tedious process.  Thankfully, yesterday I found the problem and removed that plugin from my site, and low and behold, it’s working properly!  So, yay, now I can give you some belated updates on what I’ve been doing the past three months.

Copper Bustle and Other Bustley-ness!

Leather and Copper Bustle, by Sidney Eileen

Leather and Copper Bustle – Modeled

Two things that come to mind when one contemplates steampunk are copper and leather, so for years I’ve been wanting to make a copper and leather bustle.  I was asked to give a workshop at the Nova Albion Steampunk Exhibition this past April, so I figured that was the perfect opportunity.  First I figured out a way to make simple foundation bustles in a workshop setting without sewing machines, using plastic boning and rivets or safety pins.  Once I understood how to configure the bustle, I made myself one out of leather, copper hanging tape, and rivets, and I proudly wore it that weekend.

Leather and Copper Bustle, by Sidney Eileen

Leather and Copper Bustle – Side View

Leather and Copper Bustle, by Sidney Eileen

Leather and Copper Bustle – Quarter View

Leather and Copper Bustle, by Sidney Eileen

Leather and Copper Bustle – Back View

 

 

These are the sample bustles upon which the workshop bustles were based.

Basic no-sew bustle made with featherweight boning, twill tape, and safety pins.  It's very lightweight, so it won't hold up a very heavy skirt, but it does work.

Basic no-sew bustle made with featherweight boning, twill tape, and safety pins. It’s very lightweight, so it won’t hold up a very heavy skirt, but it does work.

Basic no-sew bustle made with rigilene, and rivets.  There are two layers of rigilene along each length.  It's very lightweight, so it won't hold up a very heavy skirt, but it does work.

Basic no-sew bustle made with rigilene, and rivets. There are two layers of rigilene along each length. It’s very lightweight, so it won’t hold up a very heavy skirt, but it does work.  The cut ends of the rigilene needed to be coated with hot glue to prevent them from catching on everything.

 

The two-hour workshop was enjoyed by all, and a number of people left excited to use the knowledge they gained to make other bustle projects at home.  A wonderful friend, Roget Ratchford, photo-documented the workshop, so if you are interested in viewing that, please visit his gallery 

Nova Albion 2013 – Bustle Building Bonanza.

 

Clockwork Alchemy – Panel and Artist Table

I will be attending Clockwork Alchemy, a steampunk convention hosted by Fanime, May 25-28.

 

I will have a table in the Artist Bazaar for the whole weekend.

I’ll have my steampunk-themed and steampunk-meme art with me for sale, both originals and limited edition prints, be taking commissions, and also possibly have a few non-corset clothing items with me for sale. I will be at the table personally most of Friday, Saturday, and Monday. Sunday I’ll be giving a panel discussion on corset making.

The official hours of the Artist Bazaar are:
Friday 12:00 pm – 6:00pm
Saturday 10:00 am – 6:00 pm
Sunday 10:00 am – 6:00 pm
Monday 10:00 am – 2:00 pm

You will need a con pass to get into the Artist Bazaar. Details on convention passes, how much they cost, and where to get them, may be found on the Clockwork Alchemy web site: http://www.clockworkalchemy.com/registration.html

If you are on FaceBook, you can RSVP the event here: http://www.facebook.com/events/258991344194754/

 

I will be holding an all-day Corset Making Discussion on Sunday

Bring your note pad and your questions. This all-day discussion session is intended to give you a thorough overview of corset making and modification, providing knowledge and resources you can use as a launching point for your own corset making or modification endeavors, or allow you to fully understand what you are really paying for when buying a corset.

We will start off the day discussing different styles and types of corsets from different eras and different body shapes, male or female, common uses for costuming, and common fit issues. We’ll discuss how to take your measurements, and the basics of how to use those measurements to draft your own pattern, or modify a purchased pattern. From there we will continue the discussion with different construction methods and materials, and the costs, pros, and cons of each. Some decorations must be planned into constructing the corset, while others can be added to a finished corset. We’ll also discuss some ways to alter the fit of a finished corset, and finish with an extended Q&A session. Please feel free to bring your current project with you.

We will take a one hour break in the early afternoon, and other breaks as needed throughout the day. Come for part or stay for the whole day.

One day passes at the con are $40, and will also give you access to the Emperor Norton Ball that night. If you do purchase your pass that day, be sure to arrive at least an hour early because you will need to purchase at the main Fanime convention before coming to the discussion.

For full information on weekend and one day passes, and where to purchase and pick them up, please visit the Clockwork Alchemy web page: http://www.clockworkalchemy.com/registration.html

If you are on FaceBook, you can RSVP the event here: http://www.facebook.com/events/329440903784258/

 

I will also have a couple pieces of art in the Artists’ Gallery, so if you are able to make it out at any time during the weekend, be sure to check them out along with all the other beautiful, weird, and amazing steampunk art on display.

 

Nova Albion Follow-up

The two weeks prior to Nova Albion I spent in a sewing hole, desperately finishing as many costume pieces for myself and my friends as possible.  The finished pieces were only half of what I had originally planned, but I was very happy with how the pieces I did finish turned out.  Tomorrow I plan to upload some photos for my portfolio and provide more detailed explanations of the two finished costumes.  One of the planned costumes, which I did not even start, is a men’s steampunk Japanese outfit that I still intend to make at a future date.  One of the finished costumes, the silver satin kimono, was what I wore on Friday at the costume contest, where I won the Ode to an Elder God category.

At the convention itself I sat on three discussion panels, and also conducted a corset making tips and tricks discussion. I only had two weeks to prepare, so I started by creating an outline of the aspects of corset making that should be considered when planning to make a corset.  To aid in note-taking and to help speed the pace of the discussion, I turned that outline into a word document with space for note-taking.

Corset Making Discussion Outline Word Document

The corset making discussion went wonderfully, and the format worked better than I could have hoped.  The only down side was a lack of time.  I was only given 1.5 hours, which gave us barely enough time to get half-way through the outline, and even that was a more superficial discussion than I would have liked.  I hope to arrange to conduct a similar discussion again at a later date, but with enough time to get through all the material.  I will also periodically use the outline as a writing prompt for my blog, so all of my readers can find the information.

A wonderful fellow I met conducting a panel on adding color to your steampunk wardrobe is Roget Ratchford.  I had a fantastic time speaking to him, and if you want a sneak peak at the finished silver satin kimono, check out his online portfolio.  Should I have a chance to sit on a panel with him again in the future, I will be very pleased.

I attended the convention in cahoots with the League of Proper Villains, a steampunk group centered in Sacramento.  The League was the largest group to enter Friday’s costume contest, with a good fourty members in attendance.  We also had an info table on the mezzanine, where various antics occurred, and we had a party room packed with treats and goodies and alcohol (including absinthe).  Everywhere you looked was another Villain sporting a red arm band, and a very large portion of the attendees of the convention found themselves sporting a League ribbon from their con badges.  All in all, we were most pleased with the undeniable impact we had on the convention.

My personal great find at the convention was a new steampunk cane.  I’ve been wanting to make myself one for months, but have just not found the time.  At the con, I found Matthew Winkelmann, an artist from Washington, who brought with him a number of wonderful steampunk canes which he had for a very reasonable price and was willing to cut to length for actual use.  I ended up choosing one that had a hammer head on it, which fit very nicely in my hand.

Other than that, I spent a lot of time with good friends and new friends, and left the event feeling very pleased with the weekend.  It was a wonderful experience, and I hope to be a part of the events again in the future.