Thursday, June 30, 2011

In Which Gail Carriger Get's Crafty, Using Magnets to Make Plain Hats Match Any Outfit

I love millinery Fashionable Reader. No, really love.

There are few things in life that make me happier than hat decorating. Perhaps tea. Maybe the perfect macaroon. But I digress . . . hats!

I have a number of hats of the Victorian persuasion that I have attacked with a hot glue gun and way too many feathers and ribbons over the years. They survived my attacks and I wore them with a smile. Yes, I have a bit of the Ivy Hisselpenny in me. Well, maybe more than a bit. (Here's a blog on doing it steampunk style.)

But what troubled me was ~ how to trim a neutral colored hat to match several different outfits? I wanted to be able to switch out the trim depending on the dress. Inspired by the magnetic badges at Literary Orange 2011, I sourced some strong rare-earth magnets and Got Creative.

The magnet off of my Literary Orange badge. The metal going into place on a hat band.

My weapon of choice, the hot glue gun,. The metal in place on my wide straw hat.

The magnet in place on the straw topper. Make sure you "line up" your magnets positive to negative.

The hats and trim awaiting action.

Blue/green hat trim ~ used a strip of binding tape glued over the magnet. The blue flowers were sourced from a thrift store $0.50 and the metal flowers were off of an old pair of shoes.

The trim on the two hats. Magnet to magnet seems to work better and be more secure than magnet to metal.

The cream trim. Cannibalized an old decorated hair elastic (my hair is now too short).

The double magnets made it stick out a bit so I added some extra flowers behind, adhered to the side of the magnet.

The final cream flower.

Pink flower off of a hairband from Ross, $2.50. Has the advantage of being already curved.

The finished pink in place.

The finished product!

So excited. I now have plans to make more to go with other dresses. I'm a magnetic hat flower maniac! Be assured, Fashionable Reader, I will tell you all about it here.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Gail Carriger OUtfit round Up Dresses and Calamari in New Orleans

I have returned from New Orleans, Fashionable Reader, I what I lost in water weight due to the heat I regained in fat from all the fried food. Orbit put me up at the Sheraton on Canal Street and here's the view from the bedroom window, such a  beautiful city!

On Friday evening, after recovering from a rather hectic plane ride, the AB and I headed out for nibbles. Following instructions from a fan, we sourced Maspero's fried calamari, which was indeed delicious. The AB was also favorably impressed with the draft beer.

New Orleans if full of the nicest people! I often get compliments on this red dress, which suits well enough but I feel is rather basic. However, never before have so many lovely ladies said how much they liked it. The AB suggested this was the Marilyn effect, as the top is quite boobilicious.

On Saturday for speeches, panels, and a publisher dinner I chose something a bit more conservative. It turned out to be a fortuitous choice for that was the "coolest day" and it was the warmest of my three dresses.

 I did learn, however, that stilettos and humidity are mutually exclusive with blisters popping up instantaneously. Sadly, I consigned my peep toes back into the suitcase.

I ended up wearing my oxfords the entire rest of the trip. For these first two outfits, which involved a lot of walking around in the sun I also wore a white straw hat as well. I had alternating flowers for the hat to match each outfit (expect immanent blog on the subject).

Oxfords are BP from Nordstrom and they are very light-weight and great for travel. I think a shelled out good money for them, $60. It was worth it. I like them so much I bought the second pair in a darker mushroom color which I am going to stain to be brown two tones (again, expect a future blog).I LOVE millinery ~ one of my favorite hobbies. The hat is from my usual Bon Mar Thrift store, $10. I did entirely redecorate it, though.

I know, I know, white and cream, but sometimes a girl's just gotta protect her skin. For Sunday, however, I was inside all day, so I switched hats to a cream mini topper. It was the hottest day and luckily I wore my lightest dress. Still, because of the AC, I regretted not packing a light shawl.

Note that the bra straps are invisible? Success! Although, the hat kept falling off (when I talk I get very animated and gesticulate wildly and wiggle around a lot). I had a nice hat pin but it broke, time to invest in another stronger one.

I paired all three outfits with crocheted gloves (from Bon Mar Thrift Store Sonoma, CA ~ $2) and a vintage cream purse (from Moon Zoon in Santa Cruz, CA ~ $20) with added octopus bling (gift).

So, coping with humidity and avoiding sweat blisters. Any advice or thoughts, ladies?

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Gail Carriger New Orleans in a Pink Dress

I've been wanting to wear this dress for a while. It's a bit vavavoom for book events, in a Marilyn Munroe on the beach kind of way. But it is very light, cool, and pink, so it was the first one I chose for the New Orleans trip. I'll be wearing it Sunday for a signing at the ALA Hachette booth from 11 AM ~ noon and for my Books A Million in Baton Rouge event at 3 PM (Facebook event page).

This 1950s dress is very lightweight cotton with a faux wrap look to the bottom that ties to one side. I purchased it at Bon Mar Thriftstore for $5. I added the lace to the spaghetti straps to hide bra straps, as I am not one of those girls who can go anywhere without a bra. Before you ask, no one over a certain size can wear a strapless bra, period. They simply don't work. Even if I managed, through some miracle, to find one in 30H, and it managed to stay up, I'd spend the whole day selfconsciously tugging because I'd feel like it shouldn't!

1950s dresses via Timeless Vixen Vintage

That said, I do have a nice corset I could wear under it, but who buys a beach dress and wears it with a corset? I haven't seen any dresses of this type on the runway or in urban snapshots, but that won't stop me from wearing it this summer. Perhaps I will do a blog on how to make it street chic.

Look at it this way, Fashionable Reader, at least we aren't confined to wearing something like this in this in the summer heat!

Left 1878-1880 English & right 1880-1882, both summer day dresses

Nevertheless, I am curious. What's your solution to the bra problem paired with lightweight summer clothing? Do you end up widening all your straps like me, or opt primarily for short sleeves? How about the fated white muslin peasant top? Or do you sweat it out with a cardigan?

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Gail Carriger in New Orleans in a Green Dress

So, as I said in the last post, I'm off to New Orleans and Baton Rouge this weekend, Fashionable Reader. At last report, I needed to be prepared for 95+ and should limit my makeup. (Crisis! I never limit my makeup!) Anyway, on the hunt for my lighter weight vintage dresses I unearthed this one for Saturday . . .

This is a louder pattern than I normally prefer, but this dress fits me so beautifully and is such a lovely light weight duck cloth, I can't resist. It's extremely well made and in the best condition of any of my  vintage pieces, but label-less, I'm afraid. I'd guess around 1954. I got it at Bon Mar Thrift Store in Sonoma for a cool $15.

I will be wearing mine retro style, and I'll post the look when I get back from New Orleans. However, I've been seeing a number of similar print dresses all over the web ~ in some of my favorite fashion blogs and on the runways. I thought I'd include some street style shots of how to wear just such a vintage patterned piece in a modern way. Hope you enjoy.

Right Bluegirl Fall 2011 RTW runway, and left from the excellent fashion blog What I Wore.

Left some runway or another and right

I'll be at the American Library Association Annual Conference & Exhibition in New Orleans, (June 25 - 26, 2011), wearing this patterned green dress Saturday to speak at the YA Luncheon at noon and on the Science, Fantasy & Information Science Program from 4 ~ 5 pm. I hope to see some of you there.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Gail Carriger in New Orleans in a Red Dress

I'm off to New Orleans and Baton Rouge this weekend, Fashionable Reader. The rumor is that it's hot, humid, and could thunder shower. So I scoured the closet for the most light weight candidates. Here is the winner for Friday . . .

I adore this cotton dress. I bought it from JC Penny (of all places) some three or four years ago. Back then they had a whole spate of size 8 dresses with tops that managed to still accommodate my size 10 bust. (I haven't been back in a while, but I'm hoping they still follow this policy.) I probably paid about $30 for it. It's only flaw is the sash ties in a big bow in the back which makes it uncomfortable for driving or flying.

On the left we have one of my fashion icons, Sophia Loren, rocking the perfect red dress, and on the right a 1950s dress via Timeless Vixen Vintage.

I remember reading once that colors send different messages, and that red implies power. I always rather liked this idea. I suppose whether it's true or not, I feel powerful in a red dress!

Moschino Fall 2011.

I have ~ lemme count ~ 5 red dresses in my closet (not to mention shoes, tops, and a pencil skirt), but this is the only one with a full skirt. Here is a similar little number from J Peterman.

Look for photos next week to find out what I wore it with, and whether it was the right choice for New Orleans!

I'll be at the American Library Association (ALA) Annual Conference & Exhibition in New Orleans, (June 25 - 26, 2011). Speaking at the YA Luncheon on Saturday at noon. On the Science, Fantasy & Information Science Program Saturday, 4 ~ 5 pm.  Signing at the ALA Hachette booth Sunday, 11 am ~ 12 pm. And signing at Books A Million in Baton Rouge at 3 pm on Sunday (there is a Facebook events page). All that and I still intend to eat my own body weight in crayfish!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

In Which Gail Carriger Dyes with Tea & What's On the Dummy

My dearest Fashionable Readers, I'm working on a new steampunk outfit (the direct result of finding a matched over-skirt to one of my favorite corsets at a thrift store last month).

That's what's On The Dummy right now.

Unfortunately, the only shirt I have that goes with this corset is white. White doesn't work with the skirts.

So I decided I would try tea dyeing for the first time. I have dyed before, but not with tea. Why not? It is, after all my favorite beverage!

I had some old American Twinings lying around that I knew I would never drink so, the adventure was afoot!

In addition to the shirt, I added a pair of white gloves and a garter belt, both of which I felt might get more use if they were cream instead of white. I washed them all in clear water.

"Steam rises from a cup of tea
and we are wrapped in history,
inhaling ancient times and lands,
comfort of ages in our hands."
~ Faith Greenbowl

I did have to forcibly stop my father from dipping a hopeful mug into the tea bath! Since there was a cup of salt in as well, it would not have been a pleasant experience. His comment was, "What a waste." There is some truth to that.

About 10 minutes in I began to see some discoloration and staining in the arm pits of the shirt and the fingertips of the gloves but proceeded willfully along. (The thing about salt is that it's a fixer, including the salt produced by your own body.) I simmered in the tea for about 30 minutes, stirring regularly. Nice to have the house smell like tea instead of dye chemicals for once!

Rinse and result! Sorry the photo isn't great, turns out I was dying the fabric the same color as my floor! The shirt (muslin) was somewhat stained under arms and in a few creases on the torso, the gloves (cotton) were badly and unattractively stained (chucked em), but the garter (polyester) came out beautifully.  I'm so used to polyester bring the difficult one!

All in all I liked the color: a little more rose than a standard cream. And how did it work with the outfit? You be the judge.

I'll do more blogging on this outfit once it comes completely together and gets more steampunk. I have plenty of time. I'm thinking its maiden voyage will be at TeslaCon this November.