I’ve done a fair amount of reasonably geeky things in my life, but I reached peak geek this June.
I was having a lovely research and crafting day when I suddenly realised I’d spent four hours going through museum collections and making tables of the average sizes of Kashmiri shawls from between 1800 and 1810.
Not for work, or for a research project, but so I could make a Star Trek themed Regency shawl for our Regency Voyager cosplays…
It’s not overkill unless it’s actually fossilised!
My Star Trekashmiri Shawl happened because I realised that
1. I was going to a ball in the middle of winter as Regency Captain Janeway in a light cotton frock and;
2. I’m always cold and;
3. I had a length of slightly moth-eaten wool crepe in a lovely cranberry red that would make an excellent shawl, and;
4. I wanted my Captain Janeway cosplay to be a little more obviously Star-Trek-Voyager-y. (I didn’t quite succeed with that last bit, but I’ll get to that).
So I got all excited about researching, and looked up a bunch of shawls and collecting dimensions (which I will share as soon as I find the notebook that I wrote them in), and then pulled out some lengths of fabric to have a feel for how big the shawl would be.
Which is when I realised how ENORMOUS and heavy a 3m x 130cm length of wool, even lightweight wool, was going to be!
No wonder they made dresses out of the things: 3m of 130 wide fabric is what I calculate I need for a simple Regency frock!
Not only was that going to be ridiculously heavy, but my length of red wool crepe was only 160cm long, which means I couldn’t have gotten a shawl center or border out of it without some awkward piecing.
I measured the fabric I did have, and did some calculations, and realised the biggest shawl I could make with my red wool and a 152cm wide x 70m long remnant of black wool crepe I dug out of my sash was about 2m x 1m.
The entirety of the 152 x 70cm black remnant forms the centre panel, framed by 15cm wide borders of the red, with long shawl, with 15cm wide lengthwise borders, and 45cm tapering to 25cm squared off triangles forming the end pieces.
Very happily, the layout also avoided the worst of the moth holes. I was left with only a few small ones on one piece. It felt lovely to give a piece of fabric that seemed close to destroyed a second life – very #costumersforclimateaction.
I made the shawl by finishing all the interior cut edges with narrow overlocking, and then appliquéing the pieces together with zig-zag stitches.
(below is the exceedingly happy moment when I finished my bobbin exactly at the end of the seam)
I then added an extra bit of decorative stitching (literally the only time in 5 years I’ve used one of the decorative stitches on my machine…)
Then I overlocked the outside of the shawl. Easy peasy! When you’re making a Star Trek themed shawl, you can’t get too, too fussed about historical accuracy!
Felicity, of course, helped. Felicity always helps!
It was simple, but effective, and lovely and warm and snuggly. Especially when the electricity in the old hall the Time Travellers ball was in wouldn’t support a heating system in both rooms.
I had grand plans of stencilling boteh STV insignia along the edges of the shawl, but my test stencils looked terrible.
So, the new idea is to appliqué the logos along the border of the shawl. But that’s not going to be quick…
I’m glad I haven’t gotten around to it, because I took the shawl to Costume College for the Thursday Night ‘Garments of the Galaxy’ pool party, and I was a little short on luggage weight, so I used the shawl as my airplane scarf.
I can confirm that extremely large wool crepe stealth-Star Trek scarves are excellent travelling companions. Big enough to use as a blanket, warm enough you can leave the jacket at home and only wear a sweater. And classic enough to make you feel stylish even after 20 hours of travelling.
I’m all about stealth cosplay, but I’m not sure I’d be willing to casually wear a more obviously Star-Trek-Y shawl across three airports and two countries!