Posted in LARP, Photos, review

New Illen Chronicles LARP

Hello, my dear readers.
September is here and I think it´s good to start to write also about other things then just sewing.
I do a lot of larping (not that much as I wished to, but that will definitely come soon!)
I have returned from awesome weekend in a chateu, where the New Illen Chronicles took place.
It was definitely one of the more axhausting LARPs – playing 24/7 with no RP breaks. The setting is a high fantasy world with a lot of magic and great potential for really awesome stories. You are giver all what you love in the fantasy cliché world – conquering race of Illens (humans), who took the island (more like a continent) from the citizens of magical Mythea, renamed it, decimated the citizens, the Beings, and started to re-shape the wold in their image.
Magery is prohibited, half-breeds are frowned upon, the Beings are enslaved, turned into servants, tamed with chantry brands or worse – they become “Gifts”, tools of power for the witch hunters.
Oh yes, you have witch hunters. And the Sun chantry, Inquisition, chantry nuns and many more.
It really is well thought setting and it has great potential for awesome stories. The background is quite elborate and warms the heart of every old school fantasy lover. Which is the thing that really made me hooked onto this game.

THE CHARACTERS      

You were given the opportunity to create your character or as for one prepared for you. I´ve seen very good character, who were given a really wast depths and the portrayal was simply mesmerizing. I can´t speak for all what I´ve seen, because I didn´t have the chance to meet all the characters, but the ones I´ve met and knew, that they were prepared by the ORGa, were well done.

The script rate was also for the players to choose. If you just wanted to sandbox around and wait, which adventure you can join, you were given the oportunity.

Also you are able to choose to be either Illen )the concquering “human” race, the Being (magical being – branded or not) and a half-breed. As the Being or a half-breed your social status was somewhere below zero.
With a chantry brand the Beings are prohibited from casting magic under penalty of death and their status is basically second class citizen or a slave.
Having one parent the Being makes you something Illens can spit on. Having children with the Beings is a big NO NO!

I was a part of a noble family of witches in hiding, who came to pay a tribute to Northern warden and his new wife.
We brought our own characters, which we prepared some five to six months prior the game. Later a half-breed servant character joined the group to have someone to look at 🙂 and actually have someone who can wield a sword.

Being a high-born delegation came with the benefit of bigh tents, lot of wine and good food. We decided to take it in big style and we prepared lot of props and turned our small encampment into true place for nobility (with the fur, pillows, banners and such).
That is a good sign of players looking forward the game 🙂
And I´ve seen that sign a lot around, as people have given a lot of thoufht to costumes and the characters.

WHAT WORKED

The prepared characters were well thought. The background was well prepared and was colourful enough to catch an eye. Together with the place (chateu Líšno) the illusion of the world was almost believable.

The players were ready to give the game 150% and it was really a sight for sore eyes to see all the people around trying the best to stay true to the characters – from the villagers to nobility, Inquisition, witch hunters and the Beings, who can´t be easily tamed.

With the idea of partial sandbox the weight of the perfect illusion of the world was on the player´s shoulders and it worked well thanks to the players.
The first part of the game was mostly conversational (what I´ve seen); to have the opportunity to meet the characters and start to drown in despair and issues of your own character and of the world itself.
And boy did it work – I had some of the best conversations in the first part of the game and I´ve seen beautiful and strong scenes, which were not staged.

Big merit of the game were the players. I would dare to say that having some characters played by someone different would harm the story.

The plot itself would deserve a more simple approach, but you can´t really say that there was only one plot line that mattered.

Some of the NPC´s were just fabulous.
We had our mother, the wicked witch of the woods, turned into one of the main villains and the portrayal was eerie, awfully unerthly and ghastly. 10/10 to this!

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Look at her! She is so goddamn awesome!

I personally got a lot of space to do the things I wanted (you see, witch stuff, rebellion against the Chantry and dabing into rituals of old), which was actually great, but at the end more time consuming then expected (so my personal plotline just vanished in the woods).

Improvisation! It was great to see the players to get along with things you say and no discussion about the rules or setting. It helped a lot and the conversation flew wery naturally.
Small talks were one of the true gold of the game.

WHAT DIDN´T WORK

First of all I would like to say that I know, that the ORGa encountered several big issues. People just abandoned the ship and left not enough people to take care of the game. Also production had to be mended on many places to work well.
But…

I am a fan of partially scripted game. You just have to hold the reins of the events in your hands somehow, if you have a vision.
But to turn script against players wishes is not okay.

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I was bit bitter that my character was forced by the script to do something she did not wished and thus betrayed her lord, who the day before accepted, that she is a witch and she means no harm.
That was bad. That hurt. And it was not necessary.
When script crashes with the course of your actions and forces you to turn around like ensign, it´s not right.
And I am almost 100% sure it was not just me, who was bitter.

Information!
I love the idea of sandbox, no rules and improvisation. But if you don´t know, how to get the needed info, it´s bad.
My character was supposed to be the well educated witch of her coven, so I was expected to know what is going on in many situations. Well, I didn´t. I was bluffing most of the time and then trying to chase the ORGa, if I am saying the correct things.
I ended up feeling like an idiot half of the time.

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And I know I wasn´t the only one, again.
Also, half of the heping ORGa was poorly informed. Maybe, it´s too strong statement, but having ORGa in the field, who have to consult with the main organizer, just swallows too much time and stops the game.
I believe this particular thing was caused by the fact, that the ORGa team was weakened by people who left, but still. You need to know, what is going on.

If you have wast world, you simply need some design document for mechanics and whereabouts. I know that again – people left the ORGa, but in such a case, it would definitely be better to simplify some plotlines or just

Too much plotlines and other mess.
There were many plotlines connected in weird ways. Sometimes it felt forced – like it has to be, just for the sake of the story (and it did not worked well!). And having all the things crashing down to one massive showdown, which was bit dull at the end, is for me one of the biggest flaw ever.

Also, people got lost in “who is who” and too many hidden epic figures around. I know, that every player is a special kind of snowflake (I was for sure) and every character deserves to be at least bit epic, but I personally think that you don´t need to see every god awfully epic scene and ponder on every epic revelation which you just were not able to see coming (seriously, how the hell am I supposed to find out, that someone is a King of Hell in disguise, if he just is not showing any sign and literall noone knows?)

Then it´s just meh. Carry on.
Third meh in this case is – too much plotlines, not enough people to supervise it. Again – I have mentioned the issue above, but I am unsure if there would be enough people at all.
Also, some of the connections and plots felt like hastily glued together.

Main ORGa playing a character of too much importance.
Hey, I do some larp organising and I for sure know that I would love to play with some characters in “my worlds” and have heartbreaking scenes and share adventures with them, but!
Facing issues organizers had to overcome, I would not recommend to have main ORGa playing a character that HAS to be present in the game. Not to mention having a plotlines connected to such character.
Not to mention that such character has to see or supervise events.
Not to mention… well, I would just NOT reccomend the main organizer to play a character that needs to see, hear and influence everything.
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We are either trying to “live the world” and with it comes improvisation and sandbox, or this is strongly scripted LARP. New Illen was bit indecissive in this case.
Sometimes things happened even though characters tried everything to prevent it (and we could feel it was forced and… meh!)

Having only one well informed organizer not present half the time for consultation is not good.
It creates issues with information flow and huge (6 hrs huge) delays while players wait for something to happen. 6 hours is too much!
People slowly started to abandon the characters and chatted the half of the Sturday out of the character.

Friday (for my character) was packed with events and was great! Highlights of the day are many. Saturday turned sour around mid-day and it just went from bad to worse. It ended in annoyingly epic series of events which HAD to happen, but were…meh.
At the end there was no catharsis, things were left unspoken – I just don´t like it.
I´ve learned from the experience that it is better to have at least some two hours after the “big finale” for the players to finish things and leave the character behind.
You can party later!

I know that a mechanism of a “wish boot” was present in the game ( a altar with two bowls – one for character´s wishes, second for player´s wishes or complaints), but I don´t think it was working well. If you need information at the instants (shit is happening and you need to act now), waiting for someone to rely in hours or two just is not helping.

Errors in character sheets and plotlines missing for characters.
If you spend some 5 months of working on the character development, it really is unacceptable to have literally NOTHING prepared in the game. Just carry on and sandbox around.
THAT is not okay.
Much worse is when ORG mixes names of characters or gives the info too late. Like the day of the game you find out you have kind of important connection to someone else, but you have other things planned with other characters.

It ends with bitter aftertaste again and at least one player really upset.

It definitely is a responsibility of players to take care of the characters and give the ORGa enough time to prepare things in advance. But it is also responsibility of the ORGa to pay attention to already finished characters and take care of their plotlines. Merging two characters into one (and fail to inform the said player in advance). That is not a solution and it is not gonna work well for anyone.

Too many rituals killed the magic
I actually did one or two rituals, poisoned a guy twice and hexed noone. I didn´t felt the need to do such things.
The Beings on the other hand were ritualling their arses away in forest all the time (or at least it looked like that).
It kinda was annoying not to be able to talk to someone, when you alway heared the same reply about someone in the forest.
Don´t get me wrong, I love me some magic and stuff.
But this was… too much in my oppinion.
And with Inquisition present no open spellcasting was possible.
If you weren´t the Being and just healed your way through the game.

Overall I would say 7/10 rating. The world has a huge potential and it does not need earth shaking epicness of doom. All that epic stuff fades next to all the personal drama and strong emotions created by people not magical events (says special kind of snowflake noble witch-bitch, daughter of the evil witch bitch of doom!)
tumblr_inline_orux94kmnt1uarusf_540I would definitely go again (and heck, I hope for more to come in future). And I would definitely reduce the epicness and add some politics and maybe old fashioned guerilla raids and stuff.
The players are so awesome and are able to carry the game, that it would be benefitial to have less “important” NPCs present all the time and more “no name, appear once” character with info or just… you know, stab you in the back.

I strongly believe that with more time, love and care New Illen Chronicles will be hell of a game with incredibly good stories to tell.
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P.S: Photos also here and here , all credited to Patrik Cvak

also here credited to awesome Thief of Souls

XOXO, Rael 🙂

 

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Posted in Costumes, Finished costumes

Lady Ellara Amber, crow of the North

Hello my lovely readers!

Do not fret, this is not a post about another GOT inspired costume. This time is legit LARP medieval fantasy.
So – I´ve signed up for this LARP my friend is doing in beginning of September, which is high fantasy political setting. My non-walking state aside I am so hyped to go!
I´m playing Lady Ellara Durrandon Amber of Crow´s nest,  a high-born lady, a widow and a very hardened woman.

And a witch. Daughter of a witch-bitch. So the character came with silverish hair and unnatural blue eyes.

But being a witch or a bitch – the lady needs a proper attire, innit?

And here comes the fun – I actually have tons of fabrics at home, but not enough of one fabric to put together a medieval dress with wide skirt. I have this McCalls B4827 pattern lying around, which is basically a very easy pattern and the outcome might just look fabulous, but it wouldn´t be me to just not fool around a bit.

I had idea of gorgeous green gown in mind, but!
Here comes the but!
Not enough fabric in my stash!

BUT! (yet another but!)
I had two awesome fabrics lying around, doing just nothing.
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That is a really gorgeous green taffeta purchased almost a year ago to be a part of the green hunting Victorian dress, but alas it never came to be.
The other one is actually a saree.
This saree.
218173_1016341869174_3114383_nIn case you are wondering – yes, that is me.
And yes, I´ve cut out all those to-kill-for golden trims and kept them. They come in handy later.

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Trims to kill for!

So I have 4 meters of the green taffeta and some five-ish meter of the PES saree (I seriously believe it´s PES satin) – AND I´m in the dire need of some lining for the satin. I mean – I should probably use some also for the taffeta, but that fabric has been washed in the hot water and it´s still sturdy.
So I dive into my stash and ind – TADA – green cotton. Soft as a cloud and still nice and heavy. Can you imagine where this is all going?
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TO END IN DISASTER, I tell you!
As expected the saree was very slippery bitch. An while I tried to pin it down to retrace the pattern, it started moving. And not only that, you see. That terrible, horrible thing protested, while I pinned it to the cotton lining.
giphyOh yes, miss Thing, she did!
The end was disaster. Four-times pinning down the saree fabric and ironing the whole thing didn´t help. Next time remember, gurl, just use coutil and glue that damn thing on!
LESSON TO BE LEARNED…

However this is not a problem to stop me 🙂
I´ve managed to underline the saree parts with more or less bumpy moments. Hand stitched all the parts together – and realized that it is horribly big!
I mean – look at it! This should be my size according to the pattern instructions. But this – again – is the size of a circus tent.
I am 100 % that I´m not a circus tent! Or bunch of clown, acrobats and elephants.

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My optional “can haz tail” moment

After some more pinning and horrible encounter with sewing machine, all is done and I just think it looks fabulous. I´ve cut the neckline slightly lover than on the original pattern, pinned the facing around the neckline down – at voilá, awesome dress is awesome!
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The next step is going to be funnier though. The sleeves!
I´ve drafted a two-piece pattern from one I already had. Did anyone actually told me, that it´s going to be horrible work? No, I was not warned.  Therefore I´ve started with the math, drawing and altering the pattern.
And – well – after a lot of profanity – I managed to draft a working pattern! YAY ME!

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One nearly finished and one semi-finished sleeve

I´ve decided I really need sleeves with the buttoned up elbow (because it looks amazing and I wanted to try it). Also, while I enjoy rehab with my newly broken leg richer now for two screws, I´ve taken up the old and good needle and started to sew in hand.

All stay-stitched together looks wearable 🙂

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Look, no make-up me 🙂

I have encountered numerous issues with the neckline and the sleeves in the process. I have added darts to the hem of the neckline, as the fabric really moved in wrong way. The sleeves had to be re-sewn few times to the arm holes and I am still not happy with the outcome, so I might just re-touch the dress later.

I unfortunately ended having a bit of “no time” to make photos of the rest of the progress, because – no time, really.
So without further ado – first photos of the dress, which at the end was fully adorned by the border from the sareee and also somes with a matching satchel.

First batch of photos by absolutely stunning Patrik Cvak, all credit goes to him.

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I am in love with the bottom hem trim, though I had to re-pinn it three times.
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Back lacing gave me serious nightmares and I will definitely need to re-work it some day.

 

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Look, a matching satchel. And a handsome guy, pay him no attention 🙂

 

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The dress comes with a train and some more ribbons for fun. These were done by sewing machine, as I ran out of time.

Hopefully more photos to come.

Tell me, what you think 🙂

XOXO, Rael

 

 

 

Posted in Costumes, Finished costumes, Old, but gold

Vassagonian diplomat/spymaster at Lone Wolf LARP 2013

Hello my gentle readers!

Do you love getting nostalgic while going through your old stuff? Be it papers, school books or your closet? I do, I very much do.

There are hidden treasures in my closet – and I mean not only those old chemises my dear grandma gave me ( and which are sure retro and I love them). From time to time I bump into terribly old costumes, some of them still wearable and in reall good shape.

This specific one was my first attempt on full costume with all the needed nice-to-haves like: hand-painted patterns, eye-catching details and sleeves for show (pretty much for nothing else, especially not shooting a bow!)

To have a bit of backstory: my friends used to run a once a year Lone Wolf LARP (base on Joe Deaver’s books) for friends, which was outdoor, full of the old and lovable “go for questing, meet few NPC’s down the road and kill some monsters” and was nothing like ,the LARPs nowdays. Think oldschool and with heart.

I was asked to play a Vassagonian diplomat, who came to the land of the good people to negotiate peace treaty. And sell all their secrets to the Drakarim in Darkland and such (no wonder, I was playin a horrible bitch).

At the end, I managed to betray everyone I could, I robbed the one surviving Kail Lord Silent Hawk of the rescued and hardly retrieved book of Magna Kai (sort of a codex and a Bible for the Kai Lords), showed the way to the place to Dark armies and… well, happily pranced away.

I left behind few really pissed players because, well, I was lying all the game, that this time I’m really playing a good character. And… I wasn’t.

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Sue me, I just really like to play bitches – I´m too nice in real life, this is like my therapy!

Anyway – this costume dates back to the time, when I´ve divided fabrics to only two categories: cheap, thus affordable and hell no, that´s pricey! This costume is the definition of using cheap fabrics to create something affordable, yet awesome.
The two most expensive pieces of the costume being the red turban, which is actually a bridal saree veil. And the red taffeta pantaloons – saying, that in 2013 the taffeta was much cheaper then now (and it still costed a bunch!)

The costume itself consist of a ghawazee, undershirt with long sleeves and cuffs, a very heavy bra with cowrie shells red pantaloons and a turban.
The pattern for the ghawazee was drafted based on a an old vest with the cut out for the bust area. I´ve used very cheap underlining synthetic sating for the body of the coat (which was actually was not that bad idea in the end).

The sleeves and all the trims are remnant of the old synthetic satin saree, which happened to be around, waiting patiently to be cut and re-purposed. The front is closed with small hooks and lot of prayers.

The undershirt was made of the saree fabric and synthetic olive green satin for the sleeves, cuffs are made of the saree trims, underlined with the satin. The pattern I used was the same as for the ghawazee.

Pantaloons are very, very easy, don´t need to go to details I believe. The taffeta has a nice vine red color with black accents (I´ve never seen that fabric ever again, shame, shame!)

The rest of the costume is few hours with fabric colors and a brush and me trying to not dip it in coffee but the actual flack with the color.

And now take a look. I think that it´s a fine piece of work for a beginner!

 

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The detail of the back pattern – Berberian lio paw for protection and courage.All hand-painted with metallic fabric paint in bronze, gold and violet.
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The full costume without the undershirt and the turban.
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Here with the undershirt and in full glory.
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A good spymaster carries a saber, bow and eventually also a bodyguard with a crossbow!  (Just don´t mind the shoes!)
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Look at me,I´m pretty -And half soaked, it was drizzling almost the whole day!

 

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I spy with my vassagonian eye…
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The Midnight circus 2013 -Zingara Radha, the dancer and fortune teller
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This is the same veil used for the turban.

 

XOXO, Rael

Posted in Costume comissions, Costumes

Maev MacTyra also known as the Mother of the Dragons dress

Hello my dear readers,

this post is very special for me, as this was a special costume done for special girl.
I do not sew much for others, because… reasons. Mainly because I think I have so many things to improve, so I´m just not ready to sew for others.
I can do it, but you always need to know that there might be parts without a zig zag and some things just are not that pretty on the inside as they are on the inside. Because I´m still learning, you know?

This one actually was a very peculiar one.

I was asked to sew a costume for LARP summer camp last summer, which I also happened to be organizing. The task was to dress a witch, noble woman, mother of two, widow and woman of unaging, haunted beauty: Maev MacTyra, the mistress of many smiles.

The character itself was leader of one of Highland clans, but the she was refined, polished and very eerie-like. But also hard as stone and cold as dead mans hands.

After talking with my friend Míša, we decided to go for blue dupion and brown cotton for the godets in the skirt. The dupion to give the feeling of luxury mixed with more practical fabric, that was lying around (to create the illusion that she´s wealthy but – you know, all wealth can be spent).

I had the idea of Margaery Tyrell blue brocade dress, but obviously with less cut outs but still some serious cleavage – as the character is not aging and she can use her charm for whatever means she feels she needs to.

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After giving it some serious thoughts, I´ve decided to go for the straight front seam cotte- obviously to accentuate the divine waistline and the hourglass figure. Also, as this was /is to be worn mainly in summer, it´s convenient to have the right support and ditch the bra.

So with that, a coffee and cookies, we´ve drafted the dummy pattern and get to work.

I must say that a great deal of the dresses seams and long stitches has been done by Míša, so it´s more of a collaborative work (and it´s always great to sew for and with someone who knows roughly what is going on and what am I asking for).

The main issue I´ve encountered was – as always – bodice fitting.  Even though the dress is underlined (with my favorite corset fusible interlacing) the bust area came off very strangely.
I had to play a magician and come off with side darts to create reasonable neckline with natural looking side face (no mid bust corset effect, we wanted nice and round shapes). I actually blame big seam allowance and too generous decolletage for the necessity to add the darts (cotte with back lacing shouldn´t need darts of any kind, as it was properly fitted).

The skirt was drafted to be very wide – to be able to tuck the tip to the belt if needed, but still have the gorgeous flow of the fabric. Also – front bottom hem was ankle height to be able to walk/run in it. Back bottom hem is slightly longer, but we ditched any idea of trail.

The whole dress was accompanied with a short bolero M6911 (here), which was also done in blue dupion and underlined with the brown cotton.

I´ve found the pattern realy funny, because it took me one hell of a time to figure out how to sew the darn thing. Actually once I´ve understood the pattern (which is super-easy, mind you), it was finished overnight (with all the necessary zig zag and stuff).

Sadly, the bolero was not captured, even though it was worn over the dress.

All the accessories, the feather and beaded touches, were done by Míša herself.

And why the Mother of the Dragons, you ask?
Well – the color of course. Also, it was a bit of a running joke while we were sewing the dress, so it kinda… stayed with it.

And now, ladies and gents, feast yer eyes!

Maev MacTyra, mistress of many smiles – isn´t she gorgeous?

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The dress has two brown side godets, the sleeves are also underlined with the same brown cotton.
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We went for ankle height in the front to be able to walk/run.
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The crochet sleeveless plaid was a bit of lucky find between the fabrics. No sewing here, but it gives the dress more of a casual look.
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The wolf of Hunger, the bane of lady MacTyra
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Family and clan – and a good show how wide the skirt actually is.
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Not from a LARP – but also good show how wide the skirt is. You can easily ride a horse and still look like a lady with your knees covered!

 

EDIT:
At last, the pictures of the bolero!

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Photos from Letní kempy and Ivana Kuglerová.

 

XOXO, Rael

Posted in Costumes, Finished costumes

Battle of Five armies 2017 Crow witch dress and headpiece

Let´s continue with the railroad of the posts.
After one Battle of Five armies comes the next one. This time really quick dress I´ve made in 2 days and really not much of sewing around actually.

Last year I was a member of Esgaroth cookie squad, but this year my friend asked to join the “Dark army”. Well, why the hell not, said I. I´ve never played strictly evil character – and actually, there´s not much of role play going on, but why the hell not.

I´ve needed an interesting costume that goes with the whole “Dark and evil” theme. As I was joining the “Higlanders” a derivation  from the Lord of the Rings´Wildling, I was thinking tartan first. But as I was supposed to be a companion for the shaman (the lovely lady on the photos with me), I went for something more rough and unrefined.

I had this dress lying around with brocade bodice (sewn for 2016 LARP summer camp). The bodice is horribly done and needs a lot of re-doing, so I just ripped the thing off and started anew.

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I ended up being very disappointed on how the bodice was not fitting, try as I might 😦

I had a piece of black linen lying around, so I´ve fished out my princess seam pattern and created bodice for the two layer skirt (which is from two types of cotton, one very light, second one being grey-ish and bit sparkly).
The bodice is very tight because, as with the Merida dress, I just don´t want to wear regular bra at the battles (running around the forest makes it super uncomfortable and makes you wanna scream at the end of the day. That´s a biiig NO NO!)  For extra support I´ve worn wide belt which served a bit of a waist cincher.

I´ve the added the sleeves and bit of rags to the neckline (which left me with the very funny looking stripey sun tan after the weekend) to make it look more like “I´ve done this overnight from rags from the dead bodies”.
Being a witch you just don´t care how you look!

The skirt has a layer of see through linen with a trail and very long sleeves, which create very nice effect while walking or in the wind. Sadly – none of the photographers managed to catch it.

TA-DA! TEN MINUTE WONDER DONE!

As for the head-piece:
I have three of them lying around. It was a project done also for the 2016 LARP summer camp. The skull is done from papiermâché, cardboard, wire a and tiny bit of cloth for the eyes.
I´ve used acrylic paint and a spray varnish to protect them from rain.
The biggest of the three (on the picture above) has very heavy beak, so I had to add weight on the back of skull by attaching a feather dreads  and clay beads. It looks awesome, but it´s not for all day wearing.
For the BoFA  I´ve chosen the smallest which is ok to wear the whole day.

Mental remark: DO NOT EVER wear contact lenses in the midst of battle, it get´s dusty and scratches your eyes.

But I looked awesome!

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This is a lovely, lovely warg costume. Also – worn leggins to avoid mosquito bites. Turned up a good idea!

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That´s no make up,this is me being horribly white. Also, photo from the morning. At the end of the day, I was red as a lobster.

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The photos are courtesy of Qilip GrayMichaela Mizakoe ZázvorkováJiří StiborPavla Krona and Michal Kára · LARPy, cosplay a tak.

XOXO, Rael

 

Posted in Finished costumes

Battle of Five armies 2016 Merida dress

Once upon a time a little girl had a lovely remark, when I was going home, carrying a sword.
I know it must happen to you all the time too, when carrying home strange objects or walking around in strange clothes. We all do at some point of our lives, right?
And children have this very dear habit of saying things on top of their mind.

So, while I walked home (god knows from where) dressed in skirt and blue woolen plaid, my hair down and sword in the hand (firmly clad in a fabric not to alarm people more), I´ve met this lady with daughter, five or six-ish of age.
It was one of the awesome autumn days I enjoy the most, so I was in a great mood, grinning from ear to ear, when this little girl stops and starts to point at me, yelling: “Mommy, look, that´s the brave princess we´ve seen yesterday.”

I´ve met the said girl few more times, and no matter what clothes I´ve worn, she insisted that I´m the “brave princess”. Which not only always made me smile, but also sparked the idea to do the Merida dress she´s wearing almost the whole movie.
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Yes, that one!

I´ve seen several patterns and tutorials about the pattern, but I´ve decided to do the old school fitted cotehardie style. Because being of rather sizable asset I needed support, preferably without the modern day bra. And being vain, I just want an awesome cleavage even in medieval gown.

So I´ve asked friend to help me fit the pattern, as seen for example here. I really encourage you to do some research and googling on the internet, as there are few very good advises on how to do it (La cotte simple being one of the best around).
Also, buy a bottle of wine, cakes and chips and have a party with your cavalry/friends to do the fitting.
You seriously can´t do it alone, because you´ll need a second pair of hands and lot of pins.
Also – don´t wear the bra if you want natural lift, bra does totally different things with the bust. Just have the girls hanging around and let the fabric do the trick.

If in need of extra support, add lining or – in my case – corset fusible interfacing.

I´ve bought very lovely peacock blue linen in Sartor (if I remeber, they do ship worldwide and they have very good offer) and I was ready to start cutting. –

The dress itself was pretty simple, but I´ve encountered an issue with the sleeves. Basically I had no idea what to do with the puff part.
So I´ve used bit of a google-fu I claimed over the years and found post on the same dress on Angela Clayton´s page which I found very, very helpful.

Then – and I will never do that again – I had the stupid idea to do the eyelets by hand. I´ve never felt like such an idiot doing 30 eyelets by hand. For the first time. Gah!
No more, just no more!

Anyway, it worked very well.
Until it started raining on Battle of Five armies and the dress went soaking wet and the dress, even though I´ve washed the fabric in hot water, stretched out a lot, so I had to re-sew the bodice again.
But no big deal, it still works as it should and I have the needed support.

The dress was worn over a chemise as…well, I still had this tiny, small boob window in the dress lacing. You don´t want anyone to ogle your boobs, while carrying water around half dead army.

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As a shield maiden for the Lake town army.
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Army on march.
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With battle frying pan. Serving cookies to the Army of Men
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Esgaroth cookie commando!

 

The photos are courtesy of Cordi -Photo, Alatmoroco, Petr Bursa and Šaman z Egeru
XOXO, Rael

 

 

Posted in Costumes, Finished costumes

QUEEN IN THE NORTH also known as the Ravenna dress

Hello my dear readers,

let´s have  a crazy and magical trip to world where everything is allowed and where there are no borders of what is real and what is possible.

Are you ready?
Because this world is crazy as hell. And leaves you questioning your sanity!

Welcome to the world of Changeling: The lost.
I had the opportunity to NPC for the second run in Prague, playing a very badass raven Beast, spymaster and kick-ass biatch called Ravenna (to read about Changelings and stuff, go here).

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KRA-KRA, BITCHES! New queen is in the town.

Basically it is very well thought LARP set in the urban surroundings with a tons of very colorful costumes in contrast to the not so happy setting (Changeling being mainly about coping with being snatched away from your family and changed to something…else. All the characters were humans once. But no more!)

And you know me – I so love costumes and make up; so this was a must do!Not to mention I love playing bitches! I must have been one in my previous life.

It is one of my most favorite ensemble I´ve ever done, because… well, it turned out great and even better and I actually had tons of fun with the project.

It´s a blue and gold dress with a grey coat with blue/gold lining and feather collar. Who is not in love with some serious feathery awesomeness, hmm?

I was ill at the time, so I had almost 3 weeks to finish both – dress and the coat. So some of the details were hand stitched properly and it just looks divine!
But first of all, I needed the wig – which was happily purchased in an Otaku shop and I adore it. I´ve always wanted a proper lace-front wig and this one just does the trick.

So with the wig in the pocket and few make-up tests I was ready to start the dress.

Since I´m a huge fan of Game of Thrones and especially certain Targaryen lady´s wardrobe, I´ve decided to do a GOT inspired costume.

I purchased McCall´s pattern M6941 (here), which is definitely Daenerys inspired costume. I wanted to go for the opening on the back, which is to die for (and will show the crows on my back, teeeheee!)
I also had a quite a lot of (almost) Daenerys blue dupion lying around, so I´ve decided to give it a call. I was scared ***less to cut the fabric, but what to do with lot of nice, blue fabric, if not a beautiful dress.

The story of the blue dupion is very funny. I´ve purchased it in local store with silken products and historical brocade (here) in the winter 2015 with the aim to make it a Dragon Age mage costume for summer 2016 LARP.

Sadly the LARP never happened and it was lying around and just catching dust. So I just thought to give it a try (because it is just the right color, you know? The Targaryen blue!)

I´ve drafted the pattern on a dummy fabric first, because I really had the luxury of enough time. It always ends with the me fitting like crazy, because the size of the pattern never fits 100%. I have enough space for another of pair of boobs and half of a rugby player attached to my ribs.
At that time it was quite funny ordeal, as I had no sewing dummy, so it was all about “pin – try on – not scratch yourself – re-pin – try on”. Very tiresome process, if I may add.
I might have ended with the neckline being too low, so I had to add the golden fabric to have the dress less booby!

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Which was most likely to happen, if I was to fight in the dress. And hell yeah, I was fighting in that dress, so boo-yay for amended neckline!

I also had to do a bit of research, as the dress is a crossbreed between the following ones (for certain reasons like the front opening of the skirt, the sleeves…)

So I´ve ended drafting some of the dress patterns by hand and purely luck.
The skirt was made from golden and blue  synth. brocade and synthetic silk, which I´ve actually used also for lining of the bodice to add the solid feel (as the dupion is very soft)
All the colors go very nicely together. I´m not a big fan of bright color schemes (which makes the pink and green ball gown and the pink taffeta one of the brightest dresses I have) so the Ravenna dress was also intended to be very reserved but expensive looking.
As Ravenna was supposed to be in love with all things expensive and sparkly.

I had a lot of issue to cut the dupion, because not only was it one of my most expensive fabric, but i was not  100% sure I´ll have enough fabric. So I had to commit such atrocity like not following the warp and such. You have to position, baby! Yeehaaa!

 

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All nicely cut out and also underlined wit corset interfacing to hold the shape better.

Unfortunately I don´t have the process itself documented. Once I started to sew it went pretty quickly, the dress was finished in two days with lot of coffee breaks and time to sleep.

The long sleeves were add just not because I loved the white Daenerys dress with them, but also for my comfort. I wanted bare arms, but also something to cover my non-existing biceps (If you know, what I mean).
The sleeves are underlined with the gold/blue brocade to match the rest of the dress, duh!

I´m still not quite happy with the very plain bodice and the plan is to add the distinctive scales Daenerys has on her dress, but it´s a project for the future (I mean, the dress itself is very pretty, but I just want this one extra cherry on the top to make it AWESOME and make people go WOW!)

Also, looking at the lower hem, it will need some serious repairs!

It´s coat time!
I has in mind something interesting, as I had a tons of fluffy feathers lying around from the time I planned the Dragon Age costume (purchased here, and I really recommend to visit this shop, I have only the best experience). Nothing says raven more than feathered collar, right?

I had very heavy cotton twill in just enough length for the coat and blue/gold synthetic brocade I used also for the dress to do the magic.
What I learned from this experience is that you can do the fitting without a dummy, but it takes lot more time to do so. And oh boy, so many pin cuts and scratches one could imagine!

I used McCall´s pattern M6818, which is done after Evil Queen´s attire from Once upon a time (here).

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Again, I´ve encountered the issue with fitting the bodice. Apparently with bigger size comes everything bigger and girl just can´t have smaller wait then bust. I again ended up with too much excessive fabric under the bust and in the side seams.

Which is for me the most horrible work ever, so I just do not enjoy this par as much as the other parts of sewing. Actually I swear so much during the whole process of dress making that my husband usually asks why I do it, if it´s such martyrdom.

Well, the results are totally worth it!

 

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Almost finished bodice…

I had quite lot of time to do the lining all by hand, so it can be said it´s so far my most precise work. I actually still loathe hand stitching, but sometimes it´s really necessary in order to have everything nicely done, no unnecessary stitches showing on the fabric, right?

The feathers were bought on a lace, so it was easy to stitch them onto the collar in stripes. It creates this very impressive silhouette with lion-like mane.

I´ve also worn this costume to Carpathian Conclave for the second day. I´ve added a fur stole to the dress to have this “diva-like” feel, which is not entirely fantasy. As there was a huge guy on the “Iron throne” present (with the throne made of swords on set) I really felt like a Queen in the North.
And hey, I snatched the hunky guy on Iron throne, so, basically, it´s very good term to use.

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Ravenna with the horrid bitch face she had all the time.
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More of the make-up and wig close up. I was wearing huge black contact lenses and it was killing me.
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The coat and the dress in the action. The awesome guy is Attila (yaas, gurl, THAT Attila)
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Close up of the dress, I´ve added small raven skulls on the ribbon on the neckline. Also, still very low neckline, but at least it´s not THAT low as before!
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Don´t you just love the sleeves? I certainly do!
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One with the fur stole – me making horrid faces again. I just can´t keep them faces straight, bitch!

 

Pictures from the Prague Changeling LARP and the Carpathian Conclave, courtesy of Budapest by Night, Zsigmond Kostály (kostyal.hu), Milán Mikó ( Miko Milan Photography) and Szilvia Petka.

XOXO, Rael

Posted in Costumes, Finished costumes

The drop dead gorgeous Victorian party dress (which is not that Victorian, more likely goth)

I´m known to do a last minute sewing stunts. You can call me a Minuteman – or more likely Minutewoman, when it comes to sewing.

I know I have all the right things to do proper sewing with all the needed refining, but I usually don´t have that much time for unnecessary things like zig zag and cleaning the hems and such.
When it comes down to new costumes, I have loads of time and then I just don´t sleep.
At all.
You must know that – it´s either not enough time before or not enough money to purchase the right fabrics.
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I know, I know: BALONEY!

Anyway, this one was my super quick sewing project for LARP Masquerade party held by Prague domain Sherif. And playing a very vain (and being a very vain) character, I´ve decided to do last minute dress – very plain, but drop dead gorgeous.
And inspired with the black taffeta dress I´ve worn on Carpathian Conclave.

Made from cotton with lycra and mixture of polyester (honestly I don´t know, what it is, I had it lying around for a while) I used the bodice pattern from the “Crimson peak” dress and a full circle skirt with knee length in the front and a train in the back (sort of high-low circle skirt).

I actually decided to go for a collar and open back (which sadly is nowhere to be seen) – which I kinda like, you know 🙂
The back has approximately 10 buttons: two on the collar, eight on the back itself. Bought golden filigree buttons, which are to die for!
Also decided to go for full length sleeves with bit of cuffs (without the buttons, so they can be folded and still look interesting).

The neckline and the back is adorned by the same lace as the “Crimson Peak” dress. I´ve also used the leftover hot fix rhinestones to go with it.  This time I went with the lace also to the bust area to have something going on.

The only other golden ornament (or bit bronze-ish) is the pendant in middle of the collar. This is hand-stitched to the dress but can be worn also without it.

I managed to wear this dress also for the College of Wizardry: The Challeneg LARP, so I´ve managed to have some really neat photos.

Enjoy, my lovely readers:

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Theressa Blackwater, the Toreador Primogen. The photo stands for “I´m dead gorgeous and bored…”
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Theressa Blackwater, the Toreador Primogen, less bored, still not amused.
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Hekate Weishaupt, the NIMBUS student, witch with attitude and Hermione hair 🙂
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This I love to call the Addams family portrait!

 

The credit for the photos goes to wonderful Michal Kára and Iulian Dinu, the Dziobak Larp Studios and College of Wizardry.

 

XOXO, Rael

Posted in Costumes, Finished costumes

The curse of the Crimson peak inspired dress: NOT DEAD YET!

Hello again, my dear gentle reader.
No worries, I´m not dead yet. I just happen to be preoccupied with things, that prevented me from writing a lot.

The Crimson peak dress is now finished and I´ve worn it not only to the Carpathian Conclave, but also in Prague for the Masquerade LARP (Sadly no photos).
It was a bit of a race to finish the dress and I had to drop the other sewing project, because I simply didn´t had enough time to do both.

So I´ve decided to do at least the one properly. Which at the end was the right decision. This is – I must admit – my very first ensemble which not only is head to toes awesome, the underlining is fitting and it looks totally like I was planning, but is also finished in every detail.

Anyway it was a hell of a work and not much time to do anything by daylight. So was mainly falling asleep with needle in the hand.
I seriously consider buying and extra lamp for the future sewing room.

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I know, Bianca, I know… So far no new extra lamp for me!

But about the dress:
I managed to fit the lining and the taffeta dress almost perfectly (say – one of the hem of the lining is 5 mm off, that is a huge success!). However in the process I´ve somehow lost few millimeters on the back, so I had to add extra piece of cloth for the buttons. It kinda works as a modesty panel (and in the end, it still is a very close call, while wearing corset. I believe it´s the sole fact, that the corset just moves your body around in different shape.)

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Again a quite a lot of excess fabric under the bust.
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Hello sickface and a loot of bewbs!
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The struggle is real: checking if the lace will be fitting to the rest of the dress.
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Fully underlined and heavy as hell. This is a fitted bodice, ain’t gonna move an inch.Creates quite impressive waist also without corset.
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Back pleates, how I hate thee! 

Buttons are actually a terrible thing. 21 buttons, fabric and bras Edwardian buttons I´ve purchased in Bath last summer. Sadly, I could have used all black, as the bow at the back of the collar hides everything.
The thing with the all buttoned back is – it´s historically accurate, but it´s one hell of a thing to button them.
I need my husband to do all the buttoning, which he HATES! He´s actually the one strong enough to do the buttoning, because the underlined taffeta won´t move an inch, nor stretch enough to allow to button the dress easily.

I´ve managed to fit the dress by an inch – I simply can´t put on any more weight.
However the good thing is that the dress fits also without the corset, and it still looks the right way.

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I actually managed to get the dress covered in lace and at least thousand of tiny little red and onyx gems. Not only the decolletage, but also the train. I happened to purchase hot fix rhinestones in just the right colors and do a magic with the iron.
Nothing says expensive as a lot of tiny glittering stones on a lace.

The skirt itself has been finished with red ribbon and two small bows in front of the openings.
I had to wear my normal bustle and petticoat, because that lobster tail construction fail was not working as I wished. Hence the train was towing behind me in very ungraceful-like manner.
This is something I need to work on a bit – I certainly need proper undergarment.

Unfortunately I don´t have good pictures of the whole dress, just a glimpse here and there. Waiting now to have the opportunity to have some nice pics done.
The dress is worn over a chemise and an under bust corset.

 

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The detail of the bodice with all the glittery lace. It goes over the shoulders and over the back. The collar is bit loose because I was strangling myself with the bow.
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Me in the back, you can see the tiny bows on the front openings of the dress.

Pictures are courtesy of Budapest by Night, Zsigmond Kostály (kostyal.hu) and Milán Mikó ( Miko Milan Photography).

 

XOXO, Rael

Posted in Everyday clothes

THAT DRESS!

I know I´ve been dead for quite a time, which is partially by the fact that I´ve quite lot to do, partially because I´m lazy.

Also, my lot to do happened to be because I´m married, and as some of you may know, planning a wedding is hell of a job. Tiresome, terrible, awful job. But we managed and he didn´t run away.
The things went bit ballistic and I went from one larp to another and then to a motorbike crash. Which is why I have excess time and nothing to do, really.

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So, while I´m having a party with my leg broken and literally all seasons of RuPaul´s Drag Race, I´ve decided to write few posts about things I´ve done.

For example: TADA!!! My wedding dress.

I know you should not be sewing your wedding dress, because it brings bad luck, but HEYYY! I can do stuff, so why not do mine, too! I have so many talented seamstresses around me, but I believe it´s good – you know, try to do your own dirty work.
So I´ve tried. And hey, I actually had lovely dress to wear.

Doing all the things last moment-ish, I had a week to sew the dress. No pressure, right? But I had a pattern from Butterick (B6094 Misses’ Fold-Back Facing Dresses ) and I thought it´s gonna be okay.

I had this very clear concept in my head for a some time. This 50´s inspired dress with open back and cape sleeves, adorned with lace in bit asymmetrical way so it´s not totally mirrored, but it´s not that much going on on the dress.
And since I´m in love with mint colour, I´ve bought Banned 23´´ petticoat (here) and awesome Lulu Hun ivory/mint shoes (which are to die for) – this would go lovely with the ivory/yellowish colour of the dress.
Very, very easy concept with no problems (or so I believed)

I had all the material I needed – the cotton fabric and quite old lace with awesome flowers my grandma gave me.
So with this and fact I already have all I need, I was quite enthusiastic that I will have a lot of spare time for all the shenanigans around the wedding.

BUT!
There is always a but, when you´re too confident, right?

Here I´ve encountered two main issues:
The problem is, that this very lovely dress pattern has two vertical darts on the bodice, right under the bust, which is not working for busty lady like me. And it´s not like it´s not fitting, but in my size you will end up with huuuge bodice in size of very angry Hulk.
Which created issue nr. one: THE FITTING!

You see, I wanted to stay as true to the pattern, as possible, so it took me two days of fitting only (and several visits from my dear helping friends), until it looked like something wearable.

ALAS: After finishing all the sewing, ironing the seams and the finished dress showed like a bad idea.

My ivory/yellowish cotton showed the hidden side – it actually was cotton with tiny bit of lycra. Just enough to make the seams go ballistic and stretch to every possible corner of the world!
3269078f9539cb44df5eb1c5994ce430Hence the issue nr. two: RE-DOING THE WHOLE DRESS!

With tears in my eyes I´ve called the cavalry (mind you – it was two days to the wedding). We had to unseam the whole bodice and after consulting with pro-seamstress Victorian Catherine (check her out, she is awesome), we decided to underline tho whole bodice with 100% cotton of higher weight to have a solid base for the bodice.

With this and yet another last minute fitting we had 15 hrs or less to actually have the skirt shortened and add all the lace (and have some beauty sleep!)

At the end yet another cavalry arrived – my mom!
So basically, I can say that it was not me who sew the dress, but in total 5 people, so this breaks the whole “bad luck” thing. Am I correct?

Anyway, here are few photos and you decide, if you like it or not 🙂

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Nothin say Big help! like approving the fabric by lying on it.
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Shortening the skirt – I´ll be like “Man, this is tiresome!
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Very rare caption of unfinished dress. I had actually no time to take many pictures, duh!
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The skirt is full circle made from three pieces. I decided to go for short sleeves instead of cape sleeves. Actually worked pretty well.
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The only flaw is the darn lace on the shoulder doing weird things. For some reason the seams still didn´t hold in the right place and the right shoulder is kinda off.
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The back of the dress with the not so hidden zipper, as I wished.
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More like my back tattoo detail than the dress, but I LOVE this picture.
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I´m wearing my great-grandma´s crocheted gloves. She wore them on her wedding day!
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Detail of the lace…

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He didn´t run away, so the bride can rest (in peace!)

The photos are credited to my dear friend Zuzi and awesome photograph Michal Kára.

 

XOXO, Rael