Monday, July 21, 2014

Quarter back progress, new stays and a new horsey!

Lately, instead of new, shiny, exciting projects, I've been trying to be good and get some things done that I've been meaning to do for a while. 

First, I've been reworking my old chintz gown. I've been reusing the patterned fabric pieces, re-lining with linen (had been cotton), re-shaping for fit and style, and sewing them together in a more period appropriate way.

It still has a long way to go, but I've been avoiding actually putting on stays to try it on and finish it up. I have literally done everything else I could do except try on the darn thing to finish it. Maybe today... I've been lazy.

Speaking of stays, I've started on a new, better-fitting pair. The last pair I made, I love, but they're just too short on me. I did love the yellow linen, though. These will be light blue wool. I traced the pattern from my old stays, adjusting as I went, for a better fit across the bust. Hopefully they will be better. 

So far, over the years, I have made five pairs and bought one, too. Never been completely happy with any of them. Maybe this time!!

And my biggest, most fun news this month... I got a new horse! I just had to share, I'm so excited.

Friday, July 11, 2014

A black silk bonnet, a cotton polonaise and redoing my chintz gown.

I've been spending the last week getting old, half-finished projects out of the bags and boxes they invariably end up in, and finaly finishing them up. Yay me!

Last night was a good one.

I had purchased Hallie Larkin's 18th century bonnet kit a while back, started it, and somewhere along the line, got frustrated attaching the brim to the caul, so I chucked it aside. Last night I pulled it out and had it finished in about an hour and a half. I really don't remember what had been frustrating me so much...

I think I put it together correctly. I'm not really the poster child for following pattern directions, but it looks pretty good. I think I might add a nice big bow to the front. I just have to round up some more black taffeta for that.

Another project that is almost finished is a summery, cotton polonaise I started last year. The jacket and petticoat are basically finished now. All I have left is to add trim. But at least now it's pretty much wearable, if a little boring.

It looks very sad and limp on the dress form :( I'll have to take better pictures of it when it's all trimmed up.

And lastly for today, I made a cotton chintz gown a few years ago. I love the fabric, but my knowledge of historical sewing has advanced since then, and I could never see myself wearing it again and being happy in it. So... I took it apart!

The pattern was J.P. Ryan's anglaise. The pieces still work (and the fabric was too valuable to toss), so I will be resewing them and refitting where necessary, to make it both a better fitting garment and a more historically accurate one. Yay! 

Reusing fabric and updating style... Quite in the 18th century spirit, I'd say :)

Has anyone else ever redone a garment like this?

Saturday, July 5, 2014

The Little Black Spencer

The last project I finished, in 2013, was this little black spencer. I have finally had a chance to wear it and take pictures. I originally made it for a tea, back in January, which I didn't end up going to.

Yesterday, I walked in a Parade, with our local history group, for Independence day. The outfit had absolutely nothing to do with the fourth of July, but then again, we had Romans walking with us too, so who cares!? Just an excuse to wear something new!

I paired the jacket with my gown I made for the Halloween ball last year, a fichu to keep the sun off, kid gloves, American Duchess boots, and a black velour hat and scalloped, pink silk purse, which I had also made for the tea. I was pretty much going for this fashion plate

The parade stepped off at 8:30 and it was already sweltering! Though, I must admit, a velvet bonnet and a black wool jacket were probably not the most ideal choices... Ah well, the rest of me was cool. So, for the weather, I also carried a parasol and fan, which helped. Majorly. And since we were walking down the street, I pinned up my very white dress, so it wouldn't get a very black hem. 

One of these days, I'll have to get around to making a shorter dress from this era. But, I must say, the long, frivolous ones are just so much fun.

I hope everyone else had a lovely holiday. Cheers to a fun rest of the weekend, all!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The Kent State Museum, among other historical goodies...

This is a pretty belated post. Five months, to be precise.

Summer has regularly been pretty slow for me, costume-wise, but history is always on my mind. There just seems to be so many other things going on, during the summer, that I can't quite find a spare moment to pick up a needle and thread. Though, I have had a bit of 18th century inspiration lately which is quite welcome.

Anyway, back to the subject of this post...

Back in February, my family and I had an unexpected diversion in life and I had to run off to Ohio for a couple weeks. We had a family member at the Cleveland Clinic, and my husband and I spent the longest two weeks of our life in Cleveland. Long story short, the person is totally fine now, so it was time well spent.

While we were there, we had a lot of free time, so naturally, I tried to find things to do. I was lucky enough to come across this in a tourist magazine...

I nearly had a heart attack.

Kent State Museum?! I live in Vegas; I don't think I would ever plan a trip here. I guess it was fortuitous... that means lucky. Bonus points for whoever loves that movie, too... ;)

So, one day we took a cab from Cleveland to Kent to see the museum. 

Oh my gosh, it was SOOO worth it. Unfortunately, I couldn't take photos, but if you ever get the opportunity to visit the museum, please go. There were barely any other visitors and I was able to get within inches, practically, of the garments. So amazing for study. I took a notebook to sketch in. It was the first opportunity I have had, in ages, to get that close to an 18th century gown. Definitely worth the trip. And the shop wasn't bad either!

Another great find was the Loganberry bookstore, in Larchmere. I was lucky enough to find some 1860's Godey's to bring home!

See that empty space... All mine now! Eeeeeee!

More up my husband's alley, was the Westside Market, Cleveland's oldest food market, which boasts origins back to 1840. It was delightful. I wish we'd had a kitchen to cook with; there were so many amazing meats and things to buy!

Another major bit of awesomeness was the Cleveland Museum of Art.

The museum was added onto in modern years, but they kept the original facade, and enclosed it, making a lovely respite from the snow.

The museum had tons of things to see: Egyptian and Greek artifacts, Medieval armor, Tiffany lamps, Regency paintings, early American furniture, two stools, in Chine a la Branche, designed for Marie Antoinette, a very snazzy 1830's man in some delightfully steampunk spectacles...

Portrait of Nathaniel Olds, 1837, by Jeptha Homer Wade

Even one of the hotels we stayed in boasted some interesting history.  The Tudor Arms, which is now part of a modern chain, was once a men's sports club and was boarded up through the years to accommodate other uses. The most recent owners started tearing down drywall and came across lovely early 20th century woodwork and other architecture. The hotel is currently undergoing some restoration to get back to it's former glory. I was lucky enough to take a "backstage" tour and was even able to see the old pools and bowling alley! Very cool.

All in all, Cleveland was delightfully surprising. I had never considered going, until I was there, my plane landing in feet of snow. There was history everywhere, though I think the highlight was definitely the Kent State Museum. Golly I wish I could have taken pictures to share! Oh and, I swear, some of the best fish and chips I've ever had was at The Pub at Beechwood. Better than England, and it takes a lot for me to say that!

Anyway, I hope everyone is having a lovely summer and I hope I get some sewing inspiration soon. In the mean time, back to the horses. On a good note, I've been getting a lot more proficient in my side saddle riding...

Cheers all!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

A Look at a c. 1900 Petticoat

I have kind of a thing for petticoats. Whenever I see a good one on eBay I like to treat myself.

To be good, they don't necessarily have to be pristine or fancy. I actually really like the messy ones. The home made ones. The ones that have patches and darning and messy stitches.

Of course, some pretty whitework never hurts...

I'm guessing this petticoat is about 1900 or there about. The shape of it doesn't allow for a bustle, but it is quite long to the floor, so skirts were still about floor length. The construction is interesting, almost like it was pieced with strips of fabric. They do get wider toward the hem, which makes sense to support and shape a skirt that widens at the bottom, like a gored skirt. I get the impression the whitework started life on an older petticoat, but I'm just guessing. The rest of the skirt is pretty haphazard; I can't imagine someone taking the time to embroider all that for this skirt.

Above you can see another strip at the hem that creates a ruffle. Behind the ruffle, on the inside of the skirt, is a tuck, which is shown below. There are a few tucks on this piece. Petticoats often have lots of tucks, both to create shape and the raise or lower a hemline. Usually the tucks in the lower half of a skirt add shape to the hem, and tucks up high, like around the thigh raise the hem. I have seen loads of these in antique petticoats.

It fastens at the side with a placket and vertical buttonhole.

The hip is shaped with a series of darts, front and back.

Ah, and my favorite part. I love to see alterations and mending. Below are a few darned patches. I love how antique clothes have darned bits where they were torn. Today we just toss things that get damaged. The mending adds so much character!

And I also love to see wonky stitches. They kind of show that a real person made this. I think it's cool. Kind of like how the mending shows that a real person actually wore it.

And one last interesting thing: the side seams are unfinished.

In my own sewing, I waste a lot of time finishing seams in undergarments because I think they will unravel in the wash. Obviously not. Now, granted, if you're working with a particularly loose weave, its good to address it, but most often, even if the edges do unravel a bit, such as in the wash, they tangle together, finishing themselves off, much like a pair of cutoff jeans. Also, seams that happen to be cut along the bias won't unravel.

So, my new mid-spring sewing resolution: don't waste so much time on seams!

Now, off to make a petticoat!