Thursday, April 19, 2012

Q & A With Lucy Jane

Because Lucy Jane is the fictional half of an alter ego, I get a lot of questions whilst out and about, doing what I do.  I thought you might like to see a few of them.

Q: Why the alter ego?  Why not just make the things you make under your real life persona?
A:  For a couple of reasons.  One of the big ones is privacy and security.  As I book more fairs/festivals and come into contact with a lot of the general public, I don't really want my name out there for scrutiny.  Most people are nice, but then you get that one weirdo who Googles your home address and how many kids you have and ... yeah, I didn't want that.  But it's also a creative thing.  In real life there are absolutes and responsibilities.  Bills to pay.  People's drama to put up with.  As Lucy Jane, I get to sort of put a fence around all of that and say "No, I am being creative and this is my zone right now." In much the same way that actors inhabit a character.  It allows me to think outside the box more.

Q: Where did the Lucy Jane name come from?
A: Lucy Jane draws inspiration from two of my favorite literary heroes-  Lucy Pevensie from the Narnia books (she's courageous and firm in her beliefs and I want more of those character traits), and Jane is of course either Jane Austen, or her character Jane Bennett.  (Either way.  They both had mad people observing skills.)

Q: And Pennybright?
A:  It was the most inexorably British surname that I could dream up.  I pictured Lucy Jane's father as an officer in Her Majesty's military.  Something like that.

Q: What era does Lucy Jane come from?
A:  I'm currently at work creating a Lucy Jane concept for several different historical eras/genres.  Mostly it is Regency England dress that you will see me in, at festivals and events, because it's simple, and very user friendly.  I do plan on having Civil War era, Colonial/Revolutionary era and even Steampunk style Lucy Jane images eventually.  All of that is still in the early works, and much of it depends on the events I will do.  Still a lot of concepts and rough draft work going on yet.

Q: Did you go to college for costuming?
A: Nope.  There was a 3 year stint at American Intercontinental University back when they had a campus in Buckhead, GA, towards a BFA in Graphic Design, but due to a lot of different circumstances, I didn't finish.  They had a fashion design program, but at that time I had never sewn a stitch and had not gotten to the point where I would fall in love with it.  I was always in a drawing classroom in front of an easel.

Q: So how did you learn?
A: By making a ton of mistakes and wonky stuff that didn't fit right.  Yes, there were a couple of people who helped me with some of the major things, like deciphering a pattern (which I still don't follow completely most of the time), but the bulk of what I do is entirely self-taught.  I do have plans to take formal classes and continue my education.  There are loads of sewing things that I don't know and want to learn.

Q: What do you want to do with Lucy Jane in the future?  What's the main goal?
A: The main goal has always been to use my skills and talents (they vary!) to bring beautiful things to as many people as I come in contact with.  Sure, some of them are very niche market (reproduction/reenactment costumes), but most of them are generally geared at making people smile and happy- the Funky Friends Factory stuffed toys are popular, as are the fairies.  I hope to branch out to make jewelry, ribbon bookmarks, maybe carry a line of teas or get a book published. There are a lot of ideas rattling around in my mind and I'm slowly but very surely getting them to turn from dreams into reality.  I'd love to open a physical shoppe- tea and gifts, but that's a long way down the road yet.

I hope that gives you a little insight into the world of Lucy Jane!  If you have any questions, please ask! :)

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Pretty Patterns

I thought I would show you some of the patterns that I have my eye on to order and try.  Most of these are a while away, what with the demands of the Hydrangea Festival and everything piling up.  One thing at a time.  Still, it's nice to look ahead some.  Here are some of my (very drool worthy) favorites that will one day find themselves made up and on my dress forms.  Enjoy!

Regency Spencer by Sense and Sensibility Patterns

Regency Underthings, also by S&S:

1900 Driving Coat by Simplicity:

Elizabethan Ensemble, also by Simplicity:

While we're in Simplicity, I am also loving these tops:
And also these skirts, especially view B:

I haven't really had time to peruse through the McCall's and Butterick books.  They usually don't have what I'm looking for, but you never know.  These are all ideas that are floating around in the back of my mind, after everything that's on that right sidebar list.  Mmmm.  I need more tea and more hours.  :)

When I go back to school, I'm going to learn to draft my own patterns.  That's going to be awesome!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Music That I Work To

I need me some new... these.

Music is an integral part of my creative process.  Here is a short list of some of my absolute favorite things to blare on my iTunes as I work in the studio.

  • Steam Powered Giraffe.  You have to follow the link to remotely understand, but I DARE you not to be hooked.  They are amazing on multiple levels! 
  • Film Scores/Soundtracks:
    • Pirates of the Caribbean (most of all #3, "At World's End")- Hans Zimmer
    • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2- Alexandre Desplat
    • Pride and Prejudice- Dario Marianelli
    • A Mid-Summer Night's Dream- Simon Boswell
    • Sense and Sensibility- Patrick Doyle
    • Pearl Harbor- Hans Zimmer
    • The Lord of the Rings- Howard Shore
    • The Chronicles of Narnia- Harry Gregson-Williams
  • Broadway Musicals:
    • Wicked
    • Les Miserables
    • The Music Man
  • Various and Sundry Other Artists:
    • Tenth Avenue North
    • Frank Sinatra
    • Kristin Chenoweth
    • Sting
    • Sarah Brightman
What do you listen to while you work?

Friday, April 13, 2012

Loving Life Right Now!

Yikes, things have been busy!!!
Loving how the orders have been streaming in!  I'm at the machine more than I'm on Facebook.  A ratio that I will happily keep up!
There are so many things in the works for Lucy Jane right now, at this rate I will NEVER sleep! ;)
I know this is super short, but really, LOVING LIFE does so sum up my L post! 
What are you loving about your life right now?  Anything special?  It's good to be happy, isn't it?  I think so, too. :)

I brought you virtual flowers so you could smile and be happy too!  Enjoy!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Keeping My Head Above Water

Ackkk!  I'm behind on posting because things are moving so fast in the studio!  I'm sorry I don't have anything to offer in the way of a K post.  Not many sewing related whatevers start with the letter K.  I wish I had better content this week, but every waking minute is being spent with needle and thread in hand and good music blasting on my iPod.

In the public eye, I like to be as Regency period as possible.  At home in the studio, I'm something of a walking anachronism.  On SO many levels! :}

In conclusion, all I have for you today is a photo of a recent commission.  Enjoy! (And I will work on better posts for the remainder of the A-Z!)

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Janome, I Love What I Do...

It's pronounced "Juh-no-me".  (Get it now?  Janome?  You-know-me... Oh, never mind! ;))

Two wonderful people in my life worked at the same time to teach me how to sew.  I was around 22 years old, in college for a vocation that was rendered obsolete the same year. (Long story.)  My friend Marilyn was the one who promised me that I could in fact turn a massive pile of pink crepe-back satin into a Victorian ballgown, despite the pattern being 8 sizes too large and me being illiterate in the realm of pattern reading.  My Gran was a bit more hands on approach and passed her 1960s Pink Singer Merritt down to me, along with an assortment of tools to use.  Dressmaker's chalk.  Several seam rippers (they like to disappear off the table for some reason).  Straight pins.  All kinds of things.  But mostly the Singer.

I spent the next decade in sewing bliss.  Until the day 18 months ago that the Merritt just wouldn't work anymore.  I took it in for regular maintenance and everything, but still, after 40 years of service it gave up and wouldn't repair for anything.  Even if the shop could have repaired it, it would have been a major overhaul and cost well over the price of a new machine.  So I started looking around.

At first I thought I would go with another Singer.  The Merritt had been so good to me.  However, as I shopped around I discovered that the new Singers are... well... "They don't make things like they used to".  (That's the nicest way I can think of to put it!)

When I explained my dilemma to the fine employees of our local sew-n-vac shop, they had just the answer.  After a brief tutorial and an autograph, I was 258% sure that THIS is THE one that will last me forever. It has a metal inside body, housed in heavy duty plastic casing. This puppy and I are going to go a loooooooong way together. I am now the proud owner of this baby:

It has features I haven't even had time to try yet!  I plan on studying the manual more this summer between the Hydrangea Festival and September Saturdays.  I'd love to work some fancy top-stitching on some of my upcoming costumes!  For now, it really does a great job.  The bobbin system is brainlessly easy.  Which is good, when my brain is elsewhere and I'm trying to thread the machine!  I'm able to turn out a good number of Funky Friends soft toys in a reasonable time frame and I absolutely couldn't be a seamstress without my Janome! :)

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Iceberg Ahead!!

Well, as they sometimes do, things kind of piled up at work and I haven't been able to make the Titanic 100th Anniversary dresses that I had wanted to have finished this month.  I'll still do them this year, so they will fall into the centennial ... I don't think "celebration" is the right word.  In fact, I'm not sure what it says about me in general that I'm constructing a reproduction costume to draw attention to an event where hundreds of people lost their lives in a horrific way.  :: shrug ::  (This coming from a person who, for 12 years, regularly attended Civil War reenactments to watch people shoot blanks at each other and who has plans to return to those events sometime in the future.)  Any excuse to sew fashions from other eras, I guess.  It is what it is.

Anyway, touch of the macabre aside, here is the pattern I'll be using to make the dresses:

Simplicity 8399
I'm actually not a huge fan of the tea gown on the right.  I mean, it's pretty, but I'm not sure how the style would look on me.  I do love the high waist of both, though.  I think it's interesting that I'm sitting here, 100 years after the year these designs were in vogue, admiring them for their similarity to fashions 100 years before then.  The empire waists and the cap sleeves of the one on the left are very inspired by Regency fashion circa 1812.  Hmm.  Probably why I like that one so much.

I do plan on making one that's pretty close to those colors and look.  I did enjoy the 1999 film, after all (even if I still can't reconcile that there was obviously plenty of room for both of them on her "raft".  We won't even go down that road...) and I love making pieces as close to the film wardrobe as possible.  But I also have a gray-blue satin that will go under an off-white lace that I think will be very pretty.

Those come after the 2 Regency pieces for the festival, which come after the sewing for the booth is done.  It's going to be a busy 4 weeks!!!  Hope I don't encounter any more "icebergs" of derailments and distractions that sink the ship of productivity I'm in.  Exactly like the Titanic, that baby isn't equipped with adequate life boats or flotation devices either!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Hydrangea Festival Progress

 I have had an extremely productive day.  So much so, that I'm having to retro-post this because all of a sudden, I looked up and it was 1:20 AM.  On Wednesday morning. (Time doesn't mean much to me when I'm in The Creative Zone.) Here is a tiny glimpse of what I was working on:

Things are progressing for the festival.  Not as fast as I would like.  I need to pick up the pace.  But I have amazing music playing as I work, and that helps keep things moving along smoothly.  There is nothing like a good, epic soundtrack mix to get you in that zone. :)

I'm going to grab a little sleep and then get back to the work table.  I can't have anything to blog about here if I don't get it done and photos made of it first!

Saturday, April 7, 2012


Drooool.  DroolDroolDroolDroolDrool....

Dresses like this make me sooooo happy! :)

Friday, April 6, 2012


I know this is cheating just a little, but I have to post the Fairy post I was going to do today on Monday because of the family stuff we're doing for Easter weekend.  I just got in from a Christian Music Rock concert that was utterly amazing and I am falling on my face, I am so tired.

So thanks for hanging in and being patient.  Real life, though awesome, gets in the way of Lucy Jane stuff sometimes.  I promise everything will be back to normal and posted correctly on Monday afternoon.  Lots of Fairy goodness on the way. :)


Eyelet Setter, How I love Thee

Due to a lot of things going on this Easter weekend, this is going to be a short post.  But completely true.

Five years ago, I wanted to close the back of a Civil War era ballgown with laces rather than hooks and eyes.  I didn't want to hand stitch all of those little eyelets, so I decided to use metal grommets.  When I went to Joann's to get them, instead of the little hammer and setter tap system thingie (give me a break, I'm exhausted and it's late) I found THIS:

Squishy the handle and there's the eyelet, all ready to go.  I heart you, Dritz company.  I heart you, too, Joann's for having it in stock and on sale for 40% off.  Best less than $20 I ever spent on sewing equipment.  EVER.  Here are some photos:

I'm going to bed.  So tired.  I promise better posts next week!!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Dragon Con

A costumer's paradise.  Costumers from all over the world fly into Atlanta for 4 days of wonderment.
Dragon Con is where wizards from the world of Harry Potter hang out and talk with Professor X and Wolverine.  Jedi Knights compare the merits of light sabers and rapiers with Porthos, Athos, and Captain Barbossa.  Galinda sashays past with a dreamy wave, and over there- look, who is that just coming in? It's a group of Storm Troopers.  Are they looking for droids?  Ah, no- they were looking for Iron Man and Cat Woman.  The only place with a more concentrated gathering of Steampunk is the World Steam Expo in the midwest.  There are enough superheroes here to rival Comic Con in San Diego.  Kitty Pryde runs over to hug Frodo, who was getting a snack with The Blues Brothers and a couple of Jack Sparrows.
I love Atlanta in the fall...

I really want this to be my 'D' post for the A-Z, but I realize that it's going to take more than one post to cover all of the awesomeness that is Dragon Con in Atlanta.  And I haven't even been able to attend one yet!  I have a lot of friends who go every year, though.  Some with multiple trunks of outfits.  (Yes, you read that correctly.  Trunks.  Plural.)  I think I actually have more friends who attend Dragon Con (or have always wanted to) than who don't.

I really want to showcase some Dragon Con awesomeness on this blog.  However, it's 10 minutes to midnight and I am verrrry tired from a full day, which included a wonderful tea time with 3 of my closest friends. :) I can't do it justice.

So here is what I will do.  If you can't wait for photos and stuff in later posts by me, visit these links, pronto!

  • go to the Dragon Con website and see what all the fuss is about for yourself.  
  • Or, if you have an hour to spare, I highly recommend this PBS film on Dragon Con.  I know some a lot of the people in it.  Worth the watch!!

If you want to see my take on (and preparation for) the Con, stay tuned for several more Dragon Con themed posts after the A-Z Challenge ends.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Concept Boards: The original "pinning"

I shared a little about this in an earlier post on the Hobbit costume, but I wanted to share another one I've finished, and also why I love them so much.

There are so MANY ideas and inspirations running around in my head for pieces to make (just take a look at my list in the right sidebar!), that sometimes I miss out on wonderful materials or design ideas, simply because they fly by too fast.  Concept boards allow me to hang on to a basic idea, and then piece things together either as I find them, or (more commonly) find time for them.  I'm not a spectacularly organized person by nature.  The concept boards take a lot of stress off of me to remember whether I've found this or that bit for trim, or what the exact color of the main body is, etc.

Oh, and about the title: Some of you have asked, but I'm not on Pinterest, simply because I've heard how addicting it is, and I already have MUCH TOO MUCH to do as it is.  I'm convinced, at least for the time being, that joining Pinterest would send my creative happy little brain off the edge and you'd find me in a padded room saying "I want to do this, and this, and thisandthisandthisandthis!" over and over whilst hugging myself. :} Society can do its "pinning".  I'll do mine. :)  Getting back to the concept boards...

I finished out the Hobbit board by FINALLY finding the right contrast fabric for the bodice.  I'd fallen in love with the stitching on this material:

But when I paired it with the bodice swatch, the flowers were WAY too purple.  The bodice linen is more of a wine-ish shade.  So, as much as I hated to, I had to nix this as the contrast.

Next, I tried a couple of plain neutrals.  Here are two that were considered:

But ultimately, while I liked the textures, I didn't like the fact that there wasn't any pop of color.  The entire look has to be achieved by all of the elements working together, like instruments in an ensemble.  If one part is "off", the whole look loses its full potential.  So, after several more afternoons scouring the fabric stores (and another thing- in this instantaneous society, people often want to know "Why does it take you so long between when you promise photos of a costume and when it's actually finished and being worn by the model/client?"  This is why.  I don't just throw any old thing together.  I take my time and find the right parts and then do all the work of cutting and sewing.  To quote one of my favorite films, "You rush a miracle man, you get rotten miracles."  Okay, tangent/rant over!), I finally found what I'd been searching for:

It has the right texture, the fabrics complement each other and are very "Hobbity" together, and the color of the flowers and the bodice linen are a perfect match.  Here is the completed concept board:

The colors aren't showing well in the photo, but
trust me, they look great!
As you know, I don't need the Hobbit outfit until December (which is no reason not to hurry up and finish it, I know, I know!).  I DO need this piece in just over 6 weeks- this is the sheer overlay Regency dress for the Hydrangea Festival that I've been telling you about:

Close-up of the design sketch.
Notice how I am sure to turn the fabric to the direction I want it on the dress
rather than just randomly pinning it to the board.
This trim is going to look so sweet around the neckline
and around the sleeve cuffs!
I hope to have more concept boards finished soon.  The Hydrangea Festival is getting the lion's share of my time right now.  It's going to be a busy summer! :)

Monday, April 2, 2012

Belts and Buttons

Welcome!  If you're stopping by from the A-Z, a special welcome to you!
Today's post is the letter B, which made me think of Belts and Buttons in costuming.

Many eras and genres of costume make bold use of belts.  Sometimes they are utilized as a means to secure weaponry and supplies.  Legolas's held his daggers (presumably to make his hands more free to use his famed bow. ;)).
(yes, please, and thank you!)
(c) Newline Cinema
Lucy Pevensie's held both her dagger and her healing cordial.  And let's not forget these three lovely ... er... people, who use their belt(s) to become rather armed to the teeth in order to fight their way out of the messes Captain Jack manages to get them all into. :)

(c) Disney Pictures
I found 3 such belts that I plan on using for battle/preparedness gear on some upcoming costumes.  (Think Laura Croft/Witchblade/Steampunk/Kick@** female fantasy epic type character, etc, etc.)  I got a great deal on them- only a few dollars each at the local thrift store. :)

Conversely, belts can be used strictly for decorative means.  Just wander down to the textiles/fashion room of ANY major art museum.  They can be fabric (scarf-like), beaded, or embroidered.

Check out this embroidered belt (circa 1912 costume design) in "The Music Man":
I cannot flipping wait to make my own
reproduction of her costume!!!
I found one (same thrift store as above) to go with a 19teens era dress in the near future.

Here's a closeup of the embroidery:

B is also for buttons.  While myself keeping things viewed through the lens of a British influence/era, I do currently reside in the Southeastern US.  And nothing says "Southern Sewing Gentility" like a mason jar full of Grandmother's (and in this case, Great-Grandmother's!) buttons in the sewing room:

Last but not least, don't forget about these buttons for the Hobbit Dress! (Which, regrettably, has been put on hold until the Regency pieces get done!)

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Aspirations, Aims and Airs

Hello there!  Welcome to the first post of the A-Z Challenge!!!
I regret that I don't have much to report as yet, other than that I am continuing to get my Aspirations in order and completed for your enjoyment.  It's not easy to manage only 24 hours to cover everything that I want to get done! I'm sure many of you feel the same way.

Costumes are being planned on concept boards this weekend.

I'm sewing a plethora of pachyderms to be ready for upcoming festivals.  It is my Aim to have at least 50 ellies to fill up the booth!

And the Fairies!  Wait til you see the fairies!  (It's letter 'F', so lucky you- you don't have to wait too long! ;) lol)

I promise not to put on too many Airs during this challenge.  But I hope you will indulge me a few now and again- especially when the new Regency dresses are finished! :)  (There will be a photo shoot!)

That's all for now- I'm off to make some tiny embroidered stitches on some fairy tunics!

Love to you all,
Lucy Jane