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.