Thursday, 20 March 2014

The Quest For the Crossover Crinkle

The biggest challenge with Gab costumes is already becoming evident - it is finding the right fabric! In fact, "right" would be a misnomer - it is finding fabric close enough to do the job. It has been brought to my attention that a lot of the fabrics used were specially woven or sourced from local companies to give the costumes an authentic look and feel.

So, while still on the search for peasant skirt linen, I decided, for the sake of variety, to turn my attention to the crossover set while I waited for my multitude of samples to arrive. In theory this seemed like a good way to keep myself occupied and alleviate the boredom of continually failing fabric hunting. In actuality it simply expanded my continually failing at fabric hunting to a larger scale.

Studying the crossover top, the first thing that draws attention is the fact that it's textured. There is a distinctive patten. I concluded that I should focus on matching this texture above all else, buy the fabric in whatever colour it came in, and dye it later. The skirt and top appear to be similar colours so I figured if I bought them both in a similar colour I could dye them both with the same stuff and get a near perfect match. So I gravitated towards textured neutral cottons and bought this:

Well that was rather stupid. I don't know what I was thinking with that one but it was fairly cheap so never mind. The hunt continued, and then, in an unexpected place, I found this:

This is my parents' tablecloth, acquired second-hand somewhere around the 1970s. But that looks remarkably like the crinkle effect I'm aiming for! It was generously donated to the Gabby Project and I gleefully skipped down to the haberdashery for the packet of bleach, got back, threw it in the machine and waited to see how it would come out. Well it came out.... exactly the same as it went in actually. So I was no closer to success and £6.50 out of pocket.

With ebay still yielding no results, I decided to brave the Fancy Silk Store. Now, the Fancy Silk Store in Birmingham is a wonderful place but going in there looking for stuff is no mean task. It is three floors of high density stock and you can lose an hour in there without noticing. There is only one place I know more evil in terms of sapping the time away from you, and that is Platoon, the army surplus store in north Manchester (if you like that sort of thing). FSS is normally pretty good at coming up trumps with the weird and wonderful. I had found their linen range rather lacking when I'd gone searching for peasant skirt fabric (not enough variation of brown) but they rarely fail so I thought I'd try for textured stuff and start throwing dyes around if necessary.

I have often found the staff of fabric stores rarely "get" cosplayers. Realistically their main clientèle can be divided fairly neatly into two categories: People who make their own clothes and are just after something to do the job, and rich middle aged women who are into arts and crafts and are looking for "something lovely" to make a teacosy out of. You walk in with a photograph of someone off the telly and declare "I'm looking for something like that. No not just a BIT like that. Not just in that colour or with that vague sort of pattern. EXACTLY like that!" and they look at you as if you're nuts. As such I have given up asking for help and prefer to be left alone to browse in peace. And fortunately the folk at FSS seem content to let me do just that. This may partly be due to the fact that they have so many different materials that even THEY don't know what they have in the shop. (They probably do, but I don't envy them during stocktake.)

Skirt linen (left), top crinkle cotton (right).
On this visit I gravitated, as I always do these days, to the cottons and linens section where I found my blue peasant shirt fabric. Their range of textured cottons was really quite impressive and I found several matching the striped crinkles of the crossover top. Slightly oddly however was the fact that they all differed in thickness and texture. It didn't come in brown at all, and the white was the thinnest and flimsiest of the lot, so in the end I decided to plump for the closest pattern in a coral pink. This makes the process of matching up the colours of the top and skirt even more complicated.

The skirt looks like a linen. All the early season skirts appear to be a linen in varying shades of brown, and thus far I haven't found anything suitable for a single one of them. Many of the linens I am ordering from eBay are turning out to be far too thin - thankfully I have got into the habit of asking for samples from eBay rather than ordering by the metre based solely on a photo. At FSS though, I found a dull orange linen that was nice heavy duty that frayed well - always important for that dishevelled peasant look. I was expecting having to dye both the top and the skirt of the crossover set in order to match them up, so it looks like I'd be throwing a reddish brown dye over the orange and a terracotta brown over the pink in order to try and meet in the middle around a kind of reddy-maroon-y-brown. Fingers crossed....

"You make me wanna dye...."

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