Cake & Costube | A “Get To Know Me” Type of Thing

Here’s the recipe for the cake. Scroll down for the raspberry alterations in yellow!

Script ↓

Hello Thistledown Gang, welcome back (if you’ve already been here, if not, it’s absolutely lovely to have you here, I hope you’ll stay)!

Today I’m going to try something new, answering the 20 questions of SewLoud’s Costume Quarantine Questionaire – while baking a cake. It’s going to be a variation on my grandmother’s marble cake recipe, but with raspberries instead of chocolate for a more spring-like twist. For someone like me who is mortally afraid of processed fruit, that’s quite the step… but anyway, on to the questionnaire!

1I don’t know about the first one anymore (okay, I do remember, but there aren’t any pictures), so I’ll just give you this here.

alt2This was one of my early medieval market-ren fair type of projects, and I was really proud of it. It’s mostly made from linen, so that’s at least partially historically accurate, but it had metal grommets at the side lacing and a huge hood… I just liked hoods. I still do.

alt1So here, have 19-year-old me, being really proud of her dress. I’m not completely ashamed to show this around the internet, really.

2This doublet I made for a LARP character.

doublet1

doublet2It’s not made after an extant garment, but the construction methods for both pattern and garment are fairly accurate. It’s also really flattering and aged really well.

3Right now the first thing that springs to mind is an Edwardian lawn or lingerie dress, you know, those airy, lacy white things. I’m also dreaming of an Edwardian working wardrobe and an s-bend corset, and maybe some men’s clothing because I need more trousers, and an Edwardian walking skirt… and maybe, one day, I’ll find my Worth Gown. Admittedly, I haven’t started looking in earnest yet.

4I really hate putting in zippers. Even with modern garments, if I have the choice to put in a zipper or make a row of buttonholes, I’d take the buttonholes.
And I love hand-sewing. It’s kind of relaxing. That’s actually how I catch up with YouTube, while hand-sewing.

5I’d rather sew wool. It’s easier to handle, it doesn’t fray as much, it’s easier to clean and overall less of a little bitch.

6I tend to see prompts as a welcome challenge, so I think I’d rather go to a themed event. I also love seeing what everyone else came up with, that’s why I love Inktober (and other drawing challenges and Instagram challenges and things like these in general) so much!

7I’d rather go to a big ball. Outside Corona, I go to a historical dancing class, and I just adore dancing. I even went to dancing school for traditional modern ballroom dancing as a teenager for a few terms and absolutely loved it, so this is a no-brainer for me. It’s also easier to play over my shyness and introversion at big events, especially if there’s music.

8Machine sewing might be really quick, but I can’t control it as well as my own fingers. Hand sewing might take longer but rarely (never) hits any technical roadblocks. I do like sewing with my hand-crank machine, so I think I’d go hand sewing – hand crank – electric machine, in that order.

9Well, I kind of cut off my hair only a few weeks ago, so right now I kind of depend on wigs as a mohawk is hardly fitting for most feminine (or masculine, at that) historical styles. If I still had long hair I’d prefer that – if you go back in this blog a few years, I still have hair long enough for a lot of historical updos, but these days are long gone. Own hair is much less fuss, you don’t have to store it and it’s easier to detangle, and you don’t have to put it on first. But aside from my everyday Histopunk style – taking what I like from different eras and mashing them together – I do like long hair for historically inspired attire, so I already ordered (and received) a wig. I’m a bit anxious to try it out, I don’t have any experience with lace-fronts so far, but as I can’t change my own hair’s length at will, this is where we’re at.

10Basically, all of my supply comes from the thrift store, and that doesn’t really count, so I’d like to refer you to the Costume Quarantine 20 Questions Playlist for suggestions about small businesses. Support them if you can!

11Aside from the usual big ones that everybody knows there are dozens of wonderful smaller channels I’d wholeheartedly recommend, and here are but five of them (again, there are more in the playlist!):

sewloudRobin of SewLoud originally started this Questionaire. She does 1830s, which makes her instantly incredibly cool, and I love her personality.

lizcapismLiza of LizCapism has by far not enough subscribers, and her 18th century stays video made me lose some of the anxiety I had about making stays myself sometime soon (-ish).

notyourmommashistoryCheyney of Not Your Momma’s History is a fantastic historical interpreter whose main topic is the more unsavoury parts of US history, and aside from this being a hugely important topic she presents it with such style and flair, I can’t but fangirl.

catscostumeryKat of Cat’s Costumery got me with her historybounding wardrobe videos.

fashionhistoryAmanda Halley of The Ultimate Fashion History is a lecturer at a fashion college in the US who her lectures to YouTube. About half of it is about contemporary fashion, but I don’t mind it – I really like listening to her while I hand-sew.

12I’d go with dusty, rose pinks and golden mustard yellows, they always make me smile.

13Sparkles.

14When I was fifteen I visited Bunratty Castle while travelling in Ireland with a youth group, and I’d really like to revisit the folk park with its turn-of-the-century village in costume, just to hang out there. I’d also like a costume trip with likeminded folks to Edinburgh – a trip I took when I was sixteen, and I’ve been wanting to return ever since.

15I think I’ll go with piña colada and mojito because I’m really basic that way (and I have not much of an idea about cocktails in the first place).

16All of them, because I just really like meeting kindred spirits.

17Liza from LizCapism made a really good point: With plain fabric, you can see every tiny error. Patterned fabrics don’t have this problem as much, and I really do like patterns better, so patterned it is.

18I have used patterns before, but only ones I had to enlarge by myself and then alter to fit me. I’ve never used a to-scale bought pattern so far, I still have to do that, and I’ve got to admit that the prospects frighten me a tiny little bit. I draft most of my patterns myself, so I’m going with that.

19I enjoy making Renaissance and early modern period – Baroque, basically – things most, although I could not tell you why. Maybe because that is where I have the most experience so far? As for wearing I prefer Edwardian times, I like the look and the styles work quite well with my body type – I’m fairly hourglass-shaped and already have a big bosom and bum, and that’s kind of fortunate there.

20Before I decided to go to uni I wanted to become a bookbinder. We had bookbinding classes at school and I really loved it, but in the end, I didn’t go through with it. It would have been quite hard to find a master with an open apprenticeship position who still did things the old-fashioned way, and I would have much more likely wound up in a large firm with a lot of modern machinery and not much soul, and I wasn’t there for that. But I did spend a lot of time in my school’s workshop, I just hung out there a lot and learned what I could (and I still enjoy making books when I have the chance).

I hope you enjoyed this questionnaire (may it be as a video or in writing and the cake, should you decide to make it. If you also answer these questions, let me know in the comments, I’d love to see your versions!

Thrift Fix: Horrid Nighty to Historybound Blouse

Scroll down for the script!

Hello Thistledown Gang,

Welcome back (if you’ve already been here, if not, hi, it’s absolutely lovely to have you here, I hope you’ll stay for a while!). Today I’m showing you what became of this massively unflattering nighty I found at the thrift shop quite a while ago. It was either too long or too short, it was too wide in the wrong places, and the sleeves weren’t only stretched out but also too short. But I did like the plaid and I did like the collar situation so I took it home anyway to see what potential it might still have.

First thing I did was to unpick that weird velvet bow in front – it didn’t open, and it didn’t even go all around the neck, it just sat there awkwardly, and that didn’t help either of us. It has since been used in another project, but the buttons went straight to the donation pile. The elastic at the sleeves was, as mentioned, horribly stretched and even sticky and didn’t spark joy at all, so of course, it had to go.

My next step was a tea bath as I didn’t want to keep the white bright like that but rather wanted something a bit muted. I use the cheapest black tea our supermarket has to offer with a generous dash of salt, and in this case, I let it all sit for half a day before rinsing it off.

I didn’t plan on keeping it as a dress, so I decided to shorten it and make it into a Turn-of-the-Century-inspired blouse instead. When I shorten pieces I simply put them on and haphazardly draw a chalk mark where it feels right. This might not be the most professional approach, but it usually works, and I’m not a professional anyway. I went for a rounded hem by adding about half a palm’s width to the center of the new hem and drawing over it. Of course, I saved the fabric that I cut off, it’s going to come in handy later in the video.

There are several ways to make a garment fit better, and I kind of prefer this one to normal darts. I pinch the excess fabric between thumb and forefinger on both sides, shift them until it looks symmetrical and decent and then pin it down, leaving pleats on the bottom and the top to spring open. It’s basically darts for lazy people, but for me it definitely works better, especially on loose tops. There might be an official name for this, but I haven’t looked for it yet. The shape it gives of reminds me of the blouses I see in pictures of the lower and lower-middle classes from the Victorian and Edwardian Era, and as that’s kind of the look I’m going for… This is of course sewn down. Cue my dear old Hertha, who as since departed into the higher planes for sewing machines what did their job fantastically well for over sixty years.

This was not waisted enough yet, but instead of repeating the pleat situation on the back, enter out good friend, the velvet ribbon. I just like velvet ribbons.

I determined the height for the ribbon by grabbing the side seams and drawing them back, marked the spot with a pin, and then trailed back to the pleat seam I made earlier. I picked that seam open again where I wanted the ribbon to sit, shoved it in there, and sewed over it again, which gathered the loose fabric in the back when tied. Later, after wearing the blouse a couple of times, I figured I wanted it to be even more waisted so I took in the sides, as well, but I didn’t catch that on video. Another time, maybe.

Remember those sleeves from the beginning that were too short? I live to roll my sleeves up, anyway, but if they are theoretically long, they should be, you know… long, so something had to be done about this.

I took some of the leftovers from the hem and cut cuffs out of them. At first, I thought that might be enough, alas, no. I couldn’t find the other half of the original fabric for the life of me, though, so I had to improvise, you’ll see that in a moment. Needless to say, I came across it two days ago in my cabbage patch, but eh, too late.

Oh, enter Effie, the latest addition to my sewing family! Works like a charm. These cuffs were actually the very first thing I sewed with her. My electric sewing machine is getting a check-up at the moment, which might be the absolute worst time for such a thing in the last few weeks because suddenly everyone is sewing masks and for this reason digging out old, neglected machines, but I’m glad that more people are discovering the magic of sewing (however dire the circumstances), and I’ve got Effie to help me so I’m delighted to wait a bit longer for the other to come back.

Anyway, back to those sleeves.

The fabric I used to lengthen the sleeves further is actually and old straining rag from onion skin dyeing. I figured the colour would work well with the velvet ribbon and the tiny bit of yellow in the plaid of the blouse. I made tape to stitch around the sleeve, and I’m sorry about the overexposure – that’s what you get for working with natural light for once.

Now, I’m a f***ing genius and absolutely didn’t remember that in order to be rolled up in spite of a tight-fitting cuff a shirt sleeve needs to be slit. Good thing I was wearing a shirt (that I shamelessly used as a model). It’s not like I never do that, I just sometimes really don’t brain so well. And so I had to cut open my beautiful, newly stitched tape – at that point, I was really happy that I hadn’t sewn it on by hand – and make more of it.

I stitched on the corners by hand, I just know that if I did that by machine it would never look halfway decent, and you can barely see the thread I used for the whip stitch. Corners are not exactly my favourite thing in the world to sew, and it was my very first time taping a cuff slit like this, but in the end it worked out well enough that I’m not ashamed to wear it in public, so that’s a win in my book.

I pinned on the plaid cuffs with two pleats (again, shamelessly copied from the shirt I was wearing) and sewed them down, which worked surprisingly well – one of the reasons why I really like hand sewing is that it’s so easy to control, but a hand crank sewing machine is a great compromise.

And that brings us to the end result! I’m not sure if I misplaced the footage or never made any, but I also sewed on a thinner velvet ribbon at the throat – it’s not quite as lemony in real life, but I couldn’t grade that colour right no matter how much I tried – and replaced the old buttons with laundry ones from the thrift shop – we’ll see how well they hold up. I of course also added buttons and buttonholes to the cuffs, and I unpicked the overlocking of the ruffles around the bib and the collar and hemmed them again by hand, and while that might not have been the sanest decision I ever made I think it paid off.

Overall I’m really pleased with the result. This was a slow fix, and it took me months to figure out what I wanted to do with the sleeves but now I’m quite happy with how they turned out, yellow stripe and all. I like how this blouse can vary from school marm to histopunk, and I hope you like it, too. If you enjoyed this video, I’d be delighted about a thumbs up or even one of these elusive comment thingies, and if you haven’t yet and subscribed I’d be close to fainting, but I honestly have too many things I want to do so I can’t do that right now. Have a lovely week, stay enchanted (and home, if you can), and I’ll see you all next time. Bye!

5 Reasons to start living sustainably (that are not “It’s better for the Environment”)

Hello Thistledown Gang! While we all know that sustainable living is better for the environment and by that also benefits all creatures within it sometimes it needs another argument to convince someone to start thinking about it a bit more, and that’s exactly what this video is about.

Scroll down for the script if you don’t feel like watching a video right now!

5 Reasons: The Script

Hello Thistledown Gang, welcome back to my channel (if you’ve already been here, if not, it’s lovely to have you here, please stay)! Today I’m here with Five Reasons to live more sustainably that are not “It’s better for the environment” (we count people as environment here for simplicity’s sake), but let me elaborate.

In a video that I made a while ago, I mentioned I wanted to do some more sustainability content, as this is a topic that’s not only quite prevalent in my life, but also very dear to my heart. The thing is, I often think the representation of the whole topic is something that could use a bit more lightheartedness because I’m not seeing much of that in the… Sustainabilitytube? Sustainatube? I don’t know. So here we are, and this is why I’m making this video.

In Our Common Future published 1987 by the United Nations, sustainability is defined as something that

“[…] meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”

And while that sounds very sensible, a lot of people – probably not you who are watching this, but maybe people in your everyday life – think that this is something for treehuggers, rich people and weirdos who manage to fit a year’s worth of rubbish in a mason jar. For some reason sustainability is often presented as a “do or do not, there is no try” kind of affair, but as with all things that might make the world a tiny bit brighter and better, a little goes a long way. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise, and don’t tell anyone so, either. nobody who just got their ass in gear to do a thing and is actually a little proud of it wants to hear „that’s not enough“. If somebody reduces their environmental footprint a little, praise them for that instead of criticising them for what’s left. That’s not just nice, it’s also psychologically way more effective. Dogmatism and telling people they suck because they don’t do something, never got anyone anywhere successfully and sustainably, and this is why I’m presenting you with five arguments to use on people for whom the environment might not be a good enough argument by itself. Not all of these will do it for everyone, but even if only one of these works that’s a win in my book.

oneSustainable options are more often than not made from far more durable material than their fast fashion, conventionally made, mass production counterparts. Good, long-lasting materials like linen, leather, metal and wood usually age far better (and might even become more beautiful over time) than plastics of any kind which will at some point deteriorate, become brittle and chip away. I’m not saying that plastics don’t have their justified place in modern-day society, just that if you can avoid it and look all the more awesome for it, that might be a nice thing.

You can substitute your yellowed, old plastic lunch containers with vintage tins, for example, or the plastic bottle from the supermarket with a glass or metal one filled at home (provided that your water at home is drinking quality). Both look far more sophisticated and unique, which also factors in this argument: Mass production items are hardly a status symbol, but depending on your social surroundings, self-made stuff or well-made items are.

two

This does not only apply to well-made, long-lasting clothing or mending, it also applies to household items and food. While growing your own vegetables and keeping fowl would, of course, be the most awesome thing, most people can only manage a few pots of kitchen herbs at best, and that’s okay because there’s still the option of buying regionally and seasonally. I’m of course saying this from a European point of view and I’ve been told that things might be different in other parts of the world, but there are a few core rules that apply to produce everywhere: If you get to choose between buying organic-but-imported and conventionally-grown-but-regional, take the latter. It’s usually cheaper, it didn’t have to be shipped in and it’s supporting your local farmers. Learn about what’s in season, and what you can make from scraps. Most people don’t know that they can eat the greenery from a lot of roots, as well, and just throw away good food. If you happen to have a farmer’s market nearby, go up to a stall and ask them for greens for your rabbit, and then eat it yourself. That’s completely legit. Lifehack: Make friends with the staff, and they’ll help you find the budget-friendly options, too.

threeThis one is easy: Less rubbish means less having to put the bin out. Better quality clothing means less frustrating shopping trips. Going by bike instead of taking the tram means less having to go to the gym for workouts. This also works for social anxiety and introversion.

fourWestern modern-day society very much trains us to be like little kids with new toys. We want them. We get them (because most of us are adults and can get as many toys as we want). And then we tire of them easily. Rinse, repeat. Due to the omnipresent availability of goods – food, luxury items, everything, basically – we are absolutely used to being able to get this fix, and so the gratification time from a new thing gets shorter and shorter. I’m not even saying I’m not like this, I like new toys as much as the next dog.

With sustainable things being usually more costly and lasting longer, however, we can train ourselves to be happier with our new toy for a longer period. Buying only things that you really, really enjoy makes the wait more worth the while, and therefore gives you a – haha – more sustainable high.

fiveWhen I’m bored on my commute to work or waiting in line, one of my favourite in-my-head games is “how can I make this sustainable?”. It entertains me. Now, I’ve been a DIY kind of person my entire life, but I still see potential, and that brings me joy. The same goes for crafting, growing my own herbs, going somewhere by train rather than by car (the scenery is usually prettier and you can actually look at it). Sustainability isn’t something you have to take seriously. It’s something you can treat as a game, maybe together with your friends or partner or family. It’s a series of experiments, and it’s a journey. You don’t have to cut everything that’s not made from metal or glass from your life immediately and 100%, but maybe you find it interesting to which extent you can reduce the contents of your plastic bin, and maybe you can make it a competition with a friend (again, don’t take it too seriously).

What I actually want to say with all these reasons is, you have to find your own access to sustainable living. Don’t do it because you feel bad if you don’t, because someone on the internet told you that you suck if you don’t. Do it because you’re lazy, because you want more unique stuff than that colleague you don’t like, because you like making up alternative uses for things, and then go and inspire others with it. Spread it as something nice and encourage people on their way, because nobody likes to be told that they don’t do enough. Be nice to each other, and be nice to the planet. Oh well, there, I said it. Because it’s also better for the environment, and that includes people.

Have a lovely week, be nice to yourself, be nice to others, stay enchanted, and I’ll see you all next time. Bye!

DIY Insect Display

This case has been a long time in the making (note how the work surface changes inbetween? Yeah, it’s been a while…) but now it’s finished and I’m really happy how it turned out.

Thank you for watching!