Sunday, December 13, 2020

Costuming Goals 2021

I start every year with some lofty goals.  I rarely complete all of them and often end up completing entirely different projects as situations arise that demand that.   I have the materials for everything here with some small exceptions.

I'll start the year with two UFOs.  

1.  I intend to complete my quilted petticoat hopefully by the end of January but definitely by the end of February.  I will also make a pair of quilted pockets, completing one before our Feb. skills weekend at the end of the month.   This is a lengthy project.

2.  Wool long sleeved Italian Gown.  I cut out the bodice and have the lining and bodice back pieces all pinned together to be seamed.  Then I put it down as I knew I wouldn't get it done for our Feb 2020 weekend.  I plan on finishing this during the winter along with a couple small accessories to go with it: a 1780s ruffled apron and a ruffled neck handkerchief.

3. 1790s Round Gown --V&A.  I really love this gown which is believed to have been refashioned from an earlier gown.  I've had the lightweight Indienne below in my stash and it seems like it would make a nice version of this gown to wear in warmer weather.

4.  Mrs Izard's 1776 sacque and cap.  I like that this is a later sacque and I think this ensemble would be a good one for one of the impressions I do.

The photograph doesn't really show the color.  It's a shot silk with tan and turquoise so the color changes as the light hits it different ways.

5.  Mrs. Coffin's mourning ensemble--sacque, cap and jewelry.  I've always loved this portrait.  I copied Mrs. Coffin's neck handkerchief in 2018 and I have everything to complete her gown, cap and jewelry.  

6.  Short sacque.  I've had the striped silk for about 5 years so it's time to get on this one.  I want to keep it fairly simple and I like this one though I think it needs a different stomacher.   This will most likely warrant a new silk covered hat to go with it as well.

So I don't find myself stuck in the 18th century all year, I decided to upgrade my Edwardian wardrobe.

7.  Truly Victorian 1903 S-bend corset

8.  I've been saving this image for a couple of years.  I love the gown in the middle.  I found the fabric quite by chance when shopping at a local fabric store in Pittsburgh.  It couldn't be more perfect.  The challenge is determining the architecture of this gown.  Edwardian gowns are deceptively complex which is what makes them so fascinating.

9.  New princess slip and drawers to wear under the above gown.  My current princess slip and French drawers are simply too full to be worn under a hobble style skirt.  So in my usual vein of constructing things from the skin out, those will be made before the gown.

10.  Edwardian white gown.  Here are 3 extants for ideas.  I have a sizable stash of antique insertion lace and it's time to use it up.  I lean toward something with a lot of shaped lace insertion like the gown on the right.   I'll work on the design when I'm ready to make this.

Other stuff to be made:  18th century mitts--white leather with fagotting, white silk with fagotting, white silk with embroidery;  Caps--1790s large ornate cap TBD, mid 17th century winged cap with lace;  Aprons--2 1780s ruffled aprons.   

Various vintage fashions are on the agenda but I don't count them as "costuming" since I wear them as my contemporary clothing.

Tuesday, December 8, 2020

2020 Costuming Year in Review

It's that time of year --where I take stock of what I accomplished and what I failed to accomplish. Normally I'd wait until the end of the month but since I'm doing Christmas sewing from now until then, I don't anticipate getting anything new made.  Here are my costuming accomplishments for 2020:

1, 2.  Two silk hoods:  One taffeta and one silk velvet.  To be honest, these were started in 2019 and the finishing details were done on New Years Day.  The silk taffeta one is copied from a New England example in the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.  I created a downloadable pattern for these which is available on the blog post.   Blog post here.

3.  Fur trimmed velvet cloak:  Detailed blog post here.

4,5,6.  Mrs. Russell's outfit:  1760s brown silk gown, antique linen with lace handkerchief, lace trimmed lappet cap.  Detailed blog post here.

7,8.   Yellow Silk Damask gown with petticoat and lace pinner cap.  Blog post here.

Inspiration images

9.  1760s Indienne gown:  Detailed blog post here.

10.  Garnet silk hat.  Blog post here.

Based on this hat in the V&A

11.  Black silk tulle mourning handkerchief trimmed with lace.

12.  Moretti masks.  I almost hesitate to list these but they were quite labor intensive so I figured I would.  They are based on period images and a research piece by Phillipe Halbert.

13, 14.  Lambskin mitts of purple and claret.  Detailed blog post here

15.  Sultana with petticoat and sash.  Detailed blog post here.

16. Sheer linen cap trimmed with lace.

17 .  Long term project carried into next year:  Quilted petticoat.  Series of blog posts here.  I hesitate to list this but the time involved so far exceeds that of making of a number of gowns.  Here are a couple of progress shots.

Reflecting on what I accomplished, it occurred to me that everything was 18th century.  I really focused on studying different decades and what distinguishes them from others which made me feel that I had a good amount of variety.  The past couple of years have also had some Regency and Edwardian projects but not this year!  I'm planning though!   Next year will have more variety!

Saturday, November 14, 2020

Renovating Gloria's Home: Housing a Special Needs Bird

If you're a regular reader here, you are probably aware of Gloria, my 34 year old Blue Front Amazon Parrot.  We adopted her in Jan. 2016 at the age of 30. The last couple of months have been trying for her.  On August 18, I took her to her regular avian vet for her annual physical which was pretty uneventful.  After the doctor examined her, she was taken into another room by 2 vet techs for a blood draw and a nail trim--both of which can be unpleasant for her.  Normally the doctor does these things but the last time we were there a tech did it in my presence. 
Due to covid, I couldn't be in the room with 2 techs.  When I got Gloria home, I put her in her cage only to watch her fall off her perch and struggle to navigate her cage.  Something was clearly wrong.  Her right leg looked like it was at an odd angle or was twisted and she fell off her perch so I called the vet and took her right back.   She had a standing xray which showed arthritis and she was given pain killers.  Over the next month, with exams by another vet and an xray under anesthesia, we learned that she suffered from a hip dislocation and surgery was probably too risky.  Plus there was significant scar tissue due to the time lapse since the injury.

I was nervous about putting her in her cage until this problem cleared up so I pulled out her travel cage and put it on top of her cage.  She basically roosted like a chicken and got to work chewing the perch in her travel cage.   She ended up destroying 3 perches and spent most of the time on the floor of the cage.

Occasionally, I would find her sitting on the perch, albeit she would roost.

After a while she started climbing around the cage and she chose to climb on top where she spent much of the day.

I still didn't feel she was ready for the big cage.  She struggled to climb but over a few weeks she has gotten quite adept at it.

You can see the angle of the injured leg here.  Normally she will sit on the edge of the dish with both feet

As she's gotten more confident, it became time to start planning a transition back to her big cage.  

Here is the old set up for her cage.  This cage has a removable play top where she has always spent much of her day.  I leave the nesting door open so she can go in an out.  The big door stays closed because we have cats.  In looking at her current set up, I see a couple of problems right off the bat--there are gaps between the perches and many of the perches are too narrow for her.  I also worry that the rope perches won't feel secure enough to her.

As I planned the remodel for her cage I decided to begin the transition by giving her time on her cage top.  I was surprised to see her spending time on the wooden perch.  She had chewed away both ends of this perch and always preferred to sit on the metal support.  She also likes to sit on the rail around the cage.  Her preference has always been thin metal perches.  I think this may be due to the fact that the cage she came with had 2 skinny brass perches.  I suspect that she had that cage for the 30 years prior to living with us.

 So making a plan to renovate her cage for a special needs bird involves the following considerations:

  • The bird's physical abilities and nature of the injury/disability
  • The bird's daily routine 
  • How the bird uses the items in the cage
  • Safety
Gloria struggles to perch.  She roosts on her perch when she's on it.   I don't think she feels secure enough to sleep on her perch as I fine her roosting on the floor in her travel cage--often in a nest of shredded paper towels

Gloria isn't an overly active bird and never has been.  She hangs out on her cage top and chews some favorite toys.  When I go into the kitchen, she flies to a rolling perch so I can take her in there with me. She's a pretty chill bird who just wants to hang out with her people.

Gloria spends a lot of time sitting on the edge of her dishes and always eats in that position.  Her preferred perches are the straight wood perch on the left and the skinny rope perch on the right.  She never goes to the bottom of the cage.  If she's at the bottom, it's because she's fallen, which before her injury was rare.

My biggest worry now is that she will fall when navigating from perch to perch or while sleeping.

So my plan was to get some thicker wood perches and some shelves to go under the perches.  I noticed that someone had soft covers for the shelves that slip on and off for washing and make the surface soft on the feet so if she prefers to sleep on the shelves, I'll make covers.

As I waited for the items I ordered to arrive, I put Gloria on her play top to get her used to her old routine.  She even got adventurous and took to flight a couple of times.  The first time, she flew around the corner, apparently wanting to land on the kitchen window ledge over the sink but she ended up grabbing the valance with her beak--waiting for me to rush over with a stick to rescue her.  The next time she flew to the floor which is her usual flight path.  I let her wander around for a while, monitoring Luna (cat) closely to see how she managed to walk.  It was definitely more labor intensive.  Gloria has never chosen to fly much.  I think her wings may have been clipped in her first home where she lived most of her life.  At our house she typically flies to her big rolling perch, which she hasn't done yet.  

Over the 2 1/2 months she's been in the travel cage, she has started sitting on the wood perch more which is a positive sign though she moves to the floor during the night as that's where she is when I wake her up in the morning.

So here is the final layout for her renovated cage.  I kept it as similar as the old layout and used most of the same things.  The main task was to have shelves under the areas where she hangs out and sleeps and to make any gaps between the perches smaller and easier for her to navigate.

The right side of the cage below:  I switched out her java wood perch for one that was in her old cage as the shape was flatter on top and allowed me to rest the shelves on it.  I installed the straight bottlebrush perch which has some littls branches on the end.  Those seem to help her when navigating from the rope perch as she can grab them with her beak to pull herself over.  I eliminated the small rope perch in front of the food dish but may end up putting that back as the dish sits higher above the shelf and it's harder for her to pull herself up on.

On the left side of the cage, I used the same perches--the straight one and the small java wood perch and managed to put shelves under them.  The straight perch is often where she would sleep so I wanted to definitely keep that in the same location.  I slightly repositioned the rope perch to get rid of the slack as I felt she needed to have more secure footing.

I finished her cage yesterday afternoon and she explored a bit, had a snack, then climbed out the nesting box door to her favorite napping spot.

She did climb in and out several times.  I noticed at bed time, she did not go into the cage.  Before her injury, she'd always climb in around 9 pm or so, have a snack then ring her bell to be covered.  My thinking was that she was afraid to sleep in the "new" cage--especially feeling a bit vulnerable due to her physical condition.  I brought the travel cage over and she went right in so I think I'll phase her into sleeping in the big cage.  This morning when I got her up, I put all of her food in the big cage and she went right in so she'll spend the day going in and out.  I suspect she'll sleep in the travel cage for a few more days.

Here she is enjoying her nutriberries.

While I know she'll never be back to "normal," I hope she will enjoy more of her old activities.  She did spend time shredding one of her favorite toys both in the travel cage and on the play top. She's also started wanting her baths.  I'll know she's more herself when she gets back to shredding egg cartons which are her favorite "toy."

I hope this post will be of help to anyone who finds themselves in the position of suddenly dealing with a special needs bird.