Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Adventures in Draping


Headless got a makeover! 

I've had the same dress form for about ten years. She was really getting sad and broken, so I finally ordered a new one. While waiting for it,  I had the brilliant idea to experiment and take the duct tape mannequin concept to new lengths. 

Draping 18th century garments on yourself is hard. Really hard. Draping on a dress form only goes so far. Patterns are great, but it's still not really the experience of draping.

So, I put on my stays and enlisted my very jet lagged mom (thanks, mom!) to wrap me up in duct tape.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

The Polonaise and Some New Accessories


On Friday I had the good fortune of finding out my local group was doing a timeline event this weekend. Super short notice, but as I have been out of town for everything since last October, I was thrilled to have an excuse to get dressed up. And the timeline events are especially fun because you can represent any era you wish to talk about. Those are WWII tents behind me!

I haven't sewn anything new in months, but I did have quite a few things that have never been worn out, so I thought this was the perfect excuse. I wore my new polonaise jacket/petticoat outfit, my Christmas-present-to-myself Sarah Juniper shoes, a black silk bonnet made from the Larkin & Smith pattern, and I also brought out my linen/chintz mitts to protect from the sun. It was hot!


I mostly finished this Polonaise last year. I still want to trim it. That'll happen someday! It's very lightweight cotton with a woven stripe. The bodice is cut so the lining and front section are fitted to the body, but the fashion fabric layer comes away from the body, in the polonaise style, where the back seams let out into pleats.  


I also accessorized with a voile apron, a breast knot, my trusty sun-battling umbrella and a kerchief and cap I bought on my last trip to Virginia.


I always think the pile left from undressing is so pretty! 


And the shoes!! I have wanted to order a pair of Sarah Juniper shoes for years. I always thought it would be so complex and tedious, since Ms. Juniper is in England, but actually it was very easy. I just traced my feet, filled out her paperwork and sent the paper and fabric to her.

In no time at all, they came in the mail and they are beautiful! These are dark green glazed wool. Super comfy! And they look great with my American Duchess buckles.



Thursday, June 11, 2015

Shoutout to my fellow costumers... I miss you guys!

What a few months I have had! Good stuff, don't get me wrong, but gosh I so miss sewing. I've been traveling, I have moved house, I've been doing lots of horse-related stuff, and sadly, all my sewing things have been collecting dust and I have so missed them! And I have so missed my blog and keeping up with everyone else's, too.

To add to it, I have had the most awful internet for the past couple months (it's like 1995 over here), which has made keeping up with the blog really difficult. But I will strive to work around it!

So, I just wanted to say hi to everyone and let you all know I haven't disappeared. Cheers all, and I hope everyone has had a lovely spring!

Sunday, March 29, 2015

The 101 Ranch Hat

Back around Christmas, in our shopping travels, my husband and I happened upon Colorado Mountain Hats, a custom hat maker. I probably would have never considered having a hat made (they did mostly cowboy hats), but my husband has wanted a hat like Wyatt Earp wears in Tombstone for ages, so we stopped.

Well, once I saw how the hat maker fitted you, I had to join in on the fun!


They start out with this fantastic machine that looks like something out of Jules Verne. It's a 19th century head measuring device. They still use the original because, like with so many things, the old way is just best!

A paper gets placed on the top of the device, then the top is closed (the cork piece) to hold it in place. The device gets placed on your head and the shape of your head displaces moving pieces inside the "hat," pushing corresponding pins through the paper into the cork.



Et voilĂ ! The paper becomes your head pattern, which the hat maker then uses to recreate your head in his shop, to fit your hat to. I think he said they use a second antique machine to "read" the paper.


So what did I pick? Well, he had a lovely assortment of historical styles to chose from. I ended up picking a style copied from photos of the 101 Ranch Girls, who, in short, were performing cowgirls, from the 101 Ranch in Oklahoma. The 101 Ranch was a working ranch that did a show, much like Buffalo Bill's, around 1905. What with Edwardian cowgirls being a bit of a passion of mine, I thought this style was perfect!



And so we waited and waited for our fabulous hats to come, and they arrived this week! And, of course, it fits like a glove!


I can't wait to have an excuse to don my split riding skirt, some big Gibson girl hair, maybe a horse or two, and take some awesome pictures! :)

For a look at the 101 Ranch girls, and other inspiration for the hat, take a peek at my dedicated Pinterest board. 

Friday, March 27, 2015

Stitch, stitch, stitch... Ahh...

What a nice feeling. I missed sewing!


My husband and I have been fixing up a house and we've been staying there for about a month now. It's been totally fun, but I started to really, really miss my sewing room. I finally went and got some UFO's to work on.

Most of last year was spent in the 19th and 20th centuries, so, it's been a while since I've been in the 1700's, and I really missed it!

I took some time today to get moving on my chintz dress remake. It's coming along!


The sleeves are pinned and ready to be attached and the shoulders fitted. The fronts are basted and ready to be stitched, and the skirt panels are hemmed, ready to be stitched to the bodice. They still have the pleats from before, so hopefully I can easily adjust them to fit the remade bodice. 

Is it bad that I kind of hate the fabric now? It's a little too... bold? I dunno... I will finish it, though!

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Sometimes the sewing gods smile upon you...

With the Jane Austen ball outfit behind me, I thought I would start my next project: a 1905-ish ensemble, in the spirit of the historical building my husband and I purchased last year. I found a period photograph from the town, showing ladies dressed for day, and I've been planning to copy one of the outfits.

As per usual, I thought I'd start from the inside out. I went into the stash, to look for fabric for a petticoat, but I didn't have any. I was about to go to the store, but thought I should check the petticoats I have first, just to see if anything would work.

Major face palm!

At some point last year, I already made the petticoat! How I forgot, I have no idea, but here it is!



The skirt I'm planning is fairly narrow, so I'll have to see if it needs a second petticoat, or if the chemise and drawers will add enough heft under there.

Yay! One down. Now on to the rest of the outfit.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Costume de Bal


I was lucky enough to get tickets again this year for Pasadena's Jane Austen Evening. It really is a lovely event. A nice mix of people. Dancers and costumers and those that do both. I was lucky enough to finally meet some ladies I have only met online, and also see some fantastic costumes. I must say, I think the most gorgeous outfit was an 1820's ensemble. Perfect hair, perfect dress. I wish I had thought to take a picture!

But isn't that just what happens when you're having fun? I totally forget about the camera. I wish I had gotten some better pictures of myself, too, but here is what I have. 

Friday, January 30, 2015

Slowly but surely, a sweater is appearing.


Slowly, slowly, as I find time to fit in some knitting, the 1900's cycling sweater is coming along! Can you believe that huge piece is the sleeve? Holy mutton! I just started on the second one. So, I'm nearly there.

Just keep ribbing, just keep ribbing...

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

The Ten Minute Tea Cozy


This has absolutely no historical value, whatsoever. I can't even pretend. But it was so cute and easy, I had to share!

Lately, Ive been on a tea kick, and I've been using a sad little towel to keep my teapot warm. This morning, I was pinning all these darling knit tea cozy patterns, planning to make one, but then I was at Target today and saw this darling little knit hat and lightbulb!

I opened up the hat's seam a few inches, on one side, for the spout. On the other side, for the handle, I machine stitched a rectangle between the ribbing, sliced up it, turned the selvages to the inside and button hole stitched, with yarn, around the slit, to tidy it up. This side can be seen in the photo below. Basically, it's a giant buttonhole.


And now, I have hot tea to fuel me up for some real sewing. Cheers!

Sunday, January 4, 2015

The 40's Dress

While I don't love this one on me, It was quite fun to sew. I got to explore new things, like bound button holes. And wow, these little dresses happen so fast. I'm so used to yards and yards for gowns, so this was like poof! A dress!



I made it up because I was supposed to serve pancakes, WWII-attired, at a fundraiser for Honor Flights. I ended up not going, because I had to stay home with my injured pup.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Repairing a 19th Century Hair Comb


I found this Georgian beauty last year and loved it, despite it's toothless grin. I thought there had to be some way to fix it.

Well, this afternoon, I finally took it to the jeweler, and they said no go. The comb is an alloy, probably pinchbeck or ormolu, and they didn't have the ability to repair such a material. Ah well. But not to be defeated, I ran straight up the street to the craft store.

They did clean it for me, though, which really shined it up. It was kind of crusty before. 


The seller had kindly included a spare coral bead, which was faceted like the rest of the beads on the comb, but just a bit bigger. But two were missing, so I picked up some similar beads and some thin jewelry wire.


Ta da! 


Pretty darn close, all things considered. 

And the wire is just wrapped around the comb, so I didn't resort to glue or anything permanent that could damage the comb.


So yay! Now she has a new life. I think I will wear her to the Jane Austen Evening at the end of the month. Just think, two hundred years later, this lovely diadem gets to attend another ball. And hopefully many more after that!

Friday, January 2, 2015

2014 in Review

As the months go by, I always think to myself how many things I would like to sew and I feel like I never get anything done, but then, by the end of the year, I look back and, wow, I actually made quite a few things!

This year was sort of empty, event-wise, so I didn't make up too many full outfits. I kind of wandered around from era to era, stitching up some things that struck me in the moment, and some that lend to vague plans for future outfits. 

All in all, I was pleased this year at the quality of my work. I think general sewing skills, as well as historical accuracy were expanded upon, and while I didn't get everything I wanted done (impossible lol), the things I did work on and/or complete, I'm quite happy with. Yay! I also made my first foray into vintage sewing, which I thought was really fun, since they can be worn modern context. 

So, here went 2014!

I started off with a whole outfit for the Jane Austen Evening. I made some adjustments to my Regency undies, made a dress and petticoat, shoes and a reticule.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

The New Years Dress


Happy New Year, all! 

Ok. So I decided I like the dress. Yay!


It wore it to a New Years party last night and it was very fun to wear, very comfy and stretchy, and very warm, too!

It's Butterick 5533, from the 1930's, made up in cranberry and navy plaid wool crepe. I'm not sure what year, exactly.


I ended up deviating from the pattern, which called for a continuous, lapped CB placket and buttons, and went with a side zip. I just sewed straight up the back to close the slit. Didn't have time to mess with all those buttons. 

The zip worked out great. Because of the nubbly nature of the crepe, the prick stitches almost disappeared around the zipper.


I faced the hem, cuffs and neck with self bias facing. The extra weight around the hem worked out nicely for the drape of the skirt.


And the belt.


And for the neckline, I didn't have a drapery weight, so I used a 5p. Aw, the Queen :)