Sunday, 26 May 2013

A new creation, and a new promotional poster for Captain Bayley's Infernal Mechano-Perambulator!

Captain Bayley has just published pics of his long awaited sporty kid brother to the IMP, the Infernal Dichoto-Velocipod!

Introducing the all new, 'Infernal Dichoto-Velocipod' - for all your Amphibious Transport needs!
Image from Captain Bayley
I've also made a promotional poster for the original Infernal Mechano-Perambulator, inspired by pulp fiction magazines. Enjoy! Should I make prints available? Let me know in the comments!
Captain Bayley Presents Poster by the Mothworks

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Decopunk dress is done!

Well, the Decopunk dress is finally finally finished. It looks nothing like the pattern is meant to, but frankly, that is a good thing because this pattern was suffering badly from a case of optimistic packet artist (Which, by the way, explains why there are only ever shots of the finished dress from the back on the internets!). It is glamourous and long and it swishes, but I don't have any pictures of it, because I want a picture of myself in it with properly done hair and not looking like I've spent two days in my pyjamas eating cheesy bread and watching Doctor Who.

Judgemental cat is watching you.
To make up for it, here is a picture of cross Sophie, whose crossness may have something to do with the fact that now that it is warming up, before I put her outside in the morning I have to kneel on her and force-spray her ears with factor 75 so that they don't peel off. Look at that fluorescent nose! 

I do have my next-next-sub-next project in mind (have I learned NOTHING from the Decopunk dress!?), which is to say, it is a dress that will be one of the next three dresses I make subject to willpower, focus and panic. 
Because £189? Really?  Hobbs Blue Invitation Vienna Dress
This pattern is super simple, and it will look nice on me. Plus I get to add a bit of length if I make it, which is important because I look like a fat stork in all 'above the knee' dresses bought from shops. I also have exactly the right amount of either royal blue or burgundy silk dupion that I impulse bought from MacCullough and Wallis back when I was well-paid. I might lengthen the darts in the front skirt as well since it looks like it might go a bit pouffy in the front. I think I will have to enlist the Captain's help in drafting the bodice. 

Monday, 6 May 2013

The Deco-punk dress, second attempt!

While the Captain soaks dog chews for the rawhide, I've been busily making stuff as well. Remember the dodgy dress pattern from last week? I decided to buy this one:
What could possibly go wrong?
Initially, I thought it might be an idea to use contrasting shades of grey for the inset panels to really amp up the deco look, but I wanted something subtly different, and the ones in the local fabric shop were too extreme. In the end, I just cut some of the panels on the long grain and some on the short grain. The fabric I chose - charcoal satin - is quite shiny so the effect of the alternating grains was pretty similar to the look I was going for anyway. 

I made the body of the dress up on Saturday, and it wasn't too bad. I was anticipating a really horrifying, slippery mess on account of very unforgiving, slidy fabric and a complicated construction, but actually most of those panels are edge-stitched and cut on the straight so it went together very easily. Unfortunately, it also looked like a bag. 

What you can't see in the glamourous pattern image, is that there isn't any provision for the belt - if you nip the waist in with a belt, all you get are massive wrinkles, and there isn't much scope for adjusting the bodice to give it some shape of it's own. Plus I'm taller than the average person, so the belt looked weird at my natural waist. As I stood there, gazing into the bathroom mirror in my bag dress, I have to admit that a tiny voice in the back of my head said 'you should have made a toile'. A moment later, I came to my sense and squashed the little bastard, deciding to turn my expensive mistake into an opportunity to be creative. I lengthened the edge stitched darts in the back to take in some of the fullness, and then created a pin-tucked art-deco style fan in the front to make it a bit more flattering. This created an unpleasant and slightly suggestive effect towards the bottom of the front inset square:

uh oh.
'Excellent!' I may or may not have cried, 'Another opportunity to be creative!'

So here is what I think - 'Decopunk' is barely a thing, 'Metropolis' notwithstanding, so I get to invent it myself a little bit. I went to the hardware store and bought some of these:

[I was going to have a stock photo here, but you try googling 'tiny nuts' (on second thought, don't)]

After all, if steampunk has gears everywhere, deco-diesel-I-made-it-up punk can have tiny nuts. Anyway, I bought a few packets of beads and some tiny nuts and decided to try my hand at embellishing over my mistakes (it's a lifestyle choice!). I'm pretty happy with the result:

Please ignore the creases - I've had it rumpled up on my lap working on it. 

A close-up of the deco-sunburst 

It isn't finished, yet. I'm going to add an internal stay instead of a belt and tack the dress to it to make sure it isn't just hanging off of me, and I've also been strategically putting off (avoiding) doing the final finish (snaps and hem).
Mark says it looks like a pair of She-Ra's pants, but that's fine because he spent yesterday making a shield out of a table top and rawhide dog chews, and then may or may not have brained his best friend with it. 

'The Trouble with Tribbles' meets 'Ice-9'

It's a bank holiday weekend, which means it's time for Captain Bayley to make another impractical, large, and messy purchase. Today's involved 2 cubic feet of tiny, staticky polystyrene balls in a bag. These are normally sold for the purposes of making beanbags, in which you decant all of them in one go into a fabric sack and then spend the next four months finding stray ones stuck to your clothes. I can't say what they are for, but I am assured that they are a crucial part of the creative process. 

I don't know if you have worked with these things before, but they are so highly charged that they have a tendency to levitate in the bag, and I'm 100% certain that if even a single one makes contact with an part of our house we will be over-run with tiny replicating white spheres. The Captain is sitting next to me doing something with them that involves them being in a tray. I have visions of one of the cats innocently leaping up onto the table and sending said tray flying, and then spending the rest of it's natural life covered in tiny white styrofoam balls and looking like a low-budget alien extra in a sci-fi horror film. 

Sunday, 28 April 2013

Sunday Crafternoon

After yesterday's failed attempt at dressmaking, Captain Bayley and I spent the day making stuff.

I needed a couple of quick wins, so I took a bit of liberty tana lawn patchwork left over from a quilt I made a friend of mine when she had a baby:

And made a scented, microwaveable eye pillow. I lack the patience to do lots of fiddly finishing on big projects, like clothes, but I'm totally up for spending forever hand finishing the inside of a eye cushion that will never see the light of day. I tacked a bit of white cotton to the back of the patchwork since it was quite delicate, and then did french seams on the inside before rolling the open edge under and hand sewing it down.

I filled it three quarters of the way with rice that I had scented with essential oils (lavender, mostly, with a touch of rose absolute and patchouli) before blanket-stitching the opening closed with light green thread.
I'm happy with the result - Mark says it smells like his grandmother, but I find it soothing. Anyway, the construction is pretty sturdy so if I want to open it up and tip out the rice and put it in the washing machine it should be fine. 

I also decided to try turning one of Mark's rejected shirts into something for myself. He's a big guy, so the trick was cutting it down and tailoring it. Here's the original shirt: 
I lay one of my shirts over it, and cut the sleeves off and took some volume out of the sides. I turned the sleeves into bias binding for the armholes, put a couple of darts in and used the rest of the sleeves to make a bow for the front. Tah dah!
The bust darts are a little dodgy, so I might only wear this under sweaters, but I have another shirt that I might convert next weekend - there are definitely some improvements I could make. 

Mark was busy too - he got some little model robots delivered yesterday morning, and he spent the day painting them - I'll try to get some pictures later on!

Saturday, 27 April 2013

White Mischief and a disastrous dress

Captain Bayley and his Infernal Mechano-Perambulator will be at the War of the Worlds White Mischief party in London on May 25th. Look for us! There might even be some new pieces...

I'm thinking about what to wear. War of the Worlds is a late Victorian novel, but the infamous Orson Welles radio dramatisation took place in 1938. I'm kind of feeling a diesel/decopunk look - and judging by the promotional materials for the event, I think that will work.

Inspired by Tilly on the Great British Sewing Bee, I've bought some sewable tracing paper, and I'm going to try to go 'off pattern' for this one. Of course, 1930s dress styles often have hideously complicated constructions, so it might be a bit too much for me to bite off. I love unusual constructions, but the topography is pretty tricky! Plus, it can't just be any old vintage pattern, it has to be punked up and stylised. While I was on the bus this morning, I amused myself by designing infernally complicated and completely unrealistic dresses in my head.

The ultimate dress, I think, would have a mandarin collar and wide keyhole neckline en décolleté. There would be an empire line, and princess seams running down to the dropped waist, which would be constructed with an art deco sunburst pieced out of fabric. Even in my insane daydreams I know I'm not crazy enough to attempt that kind of a dress with a slippery fabric like charmeuse, so, black silk dupion with all of the seams picked out with fine gold satin piping seemed like the obvious choice.


Did I mention I'm a really impatient, lazy seamstress?

Anyway, I pieced the bodice out of my magical new sewable pattern paper - and it's not actually too bad. It's doable and the fit isn't bad (although I might recut it with some adjustments). It's the skirt. The bit that I thought would be fun is actually a nightmare of epic proportions. Proportions are the key point, actually. It's been a few years since the last time I made an evening gown, and even for a trumpet shape there is some serious volume involved!
The pattern. 

It doesn't help that I'm currently sharing our spare bedroom with three bikes, two mattresses a large duvet and two cats. This is restricting my 'cutting surface' (floor) to almost nothing. I just can't get my head around this pattern. So, I might go back to the drawing board on this one...

Thursday, 25 April 2013

New site for Captain Bayley!

Captain Bayley, a.k.a. Mark, creator of the Infernal Mechano-Perambulator has a new website. He will be creating a replica of the original IMP for sale. Details on his website.

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Captain Bayley's Mechano-Perambulator

So, it turns out we might be a little bit borderline famous on the internet. When Mark presented me with the Steampunk AT-AT, I thought I might email it to one of my favourite bloggers ever - Jen, of Cakewrecks and Epbot fame, who has a definite penchent for both steampunk and Star Wars. I certainly didn't expect it to make the cut and end up on Epbot!

So, here's the full story of the IMP, taken from the email I sent Jen:

Mark is the kind of guy who will decide he has to learn how to do something - be it create zombie special effects makeup, spin wool out of cat hair (blech!), wire lamps out of duck hunt guns, build a life size mastadon head out of chicken wire and papier mache or make me a dress with no pattern and no sewing experience - and then spend as long as it takes to do it. We live in London (although I'm American), so space is kind of an issue. I assume that we will either end up on an episode of Hoarders or after we die people will start charging admission to our house to see all of the weird things. 

So, when I came home one day to discover that Mark had bought four 1980s AT ATs  with missing parts, I wasn't that surprised. He assured me that he was going to combine them and resell one or two as complete units. 'It's an investment!' he said.  

I was surprised and alarmed when one of them mysteriously became painted with orange razzle dazzle camouflage and covered in fairy lights. Equally surprising and alarming was the combination of a (my!) really nice radio and a really nice vintage toy into one, semi-functional Frankenstein's monster of an AT AT radio with a tendency to lay down it's own random, plasticky beat on top of the music (it has since been modified and now works beautifully, I have to admit). 

With two AT ATs left, he magnanimously decided that he would customise one of them in a manner of my choosing as a gift. 

'Steampunk!' I cried (of course). 

The result is, as I hope you will agree, pretty amazing. Each one of those rivets was cut out with a punch and applied with tweezers, and we both lost track of the number of coats of spray paint he used to get that gorgeous patina before washing it down and creating the stains and drips. He made the narwhal horn on the front as well. It's hard to see (this thing is a really weird shape and surprisingly awkward to photograph), but the legs and feet are covered in seaweed and barnacles - I can just imagine it tramping up and down the coastline, or standing in a harbour next to a crumbling pier. 

I was really busy at work all day Monday, and I didn't get a chance to look at the internet, until Mark woke me up in the middle of the night on Monday to let me know that the IMP had hit the big time and was featured on Epbot! 

Today was weird, the pictures snowballed and next thing we knew there were some absolutely lovely articles popping up all over the place! Here are some of our favourites:

Additionally, we've seen some really lovely comments on tumblr, facebook and twitter. So thank you, one and all for sharing, liking, commenting and posting - Mark hasn't stopped grinning!

Welcome to the Badger and Owl

Welcome to the Badger and Owl blog, home of Captain Bayley's Infernal Mechano-Perambulator, six duck hunt lamps, thirty metres of chicken wire, two cats, a sewing room and a couple of makers.

If you've found us via the Infernal Mechano-Perambulator, a special welcome. This is where you can watch future creations appear from the often dark but always entertaining mind of Mark. If nice, quiet, sensible projects that don't involve collections of cat hair or plaster masks are more your speed, I'll be sharing my sewing, knitting and painting projects with you.