Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Costumes and Ponies

Meet the pony. Well, he's not a pony, but even with his lengthy string of noble sounding names, he still gets called "pony". Often in a voice totally unfitting to a huge animal, but hey, I talk to my doberman in a mini voice too. They're all my babies!

Anyway, I'm introducing you because he is the reason for my costume brainstorming today.

For Halloween, my barn has a costume contest. Obviously, this involves the horse as well. 
I spent this morning browsing horse and rider costumes, which truthfully are all very clumsy looking: horse as dragon, you knight. Horse as __(large, boxy thing)__, you __(uncomfortable costume)__, etc etc. 

I briefly toyed with the idea of making him medieval-looking tack but then I would have to make a dress. I also thought, "aha! A redingote! Marie Antoinette rode astride!" But I think that one would be lost on most of the crowd, not to mention both those ideas left me making more costumes, which I really don't have time for. 

But then it came to me -- a circus girl! A cute, vintage style circus rider to be exact.

See more totally cute vintage circus
gals at The Decophile

I love it. I was just watching Water for Elephants and now I have visions of me with a cute sparkly headband, marcelled bob and ballet slippers. I will have to work on fancying up the horse, too, but at least he wont have to wear anything too bad, maybe an ostrich plume or two...

I know it's far away, but now I'm excited :)

Anyone else dress up their pets?

Reese Witherspoon in Water for Elephants.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Weekend Vintage Finds

This last weekend I got in a little time at the antique stores. I usually hunt for china, but this time I found a bunch of cute hankies and napkins. Such cute embroidery!

As far as I can tell, the hankies are early to mid 20th century. I think the tea cup napkins are more recent, but who knows.

I also found a thimble that fits perfect and some cute pattern weights, shaped like a sewing machine and iron. In love!

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Progress on a Shortgown, Petticoats, Stays and a Queen Stitch Pinball

Happy Saturday all! This was a pretty productive week. I've made progress on a number of projects. I often start a bunch at once so I can rotate between them as I get tired and/or bored :)

I finished up a bedgown, or shortgown, got two petticoats ready to be pleated and finished up, got a good start on a queen stitch pinball and I started binding my stays.

A little about the petticoats first. One is white linen, to be worn as an underpetticoat, so it will be a little on the short side. The blue one is wool from William Booth Draper. Both are hand stitched with linen thread. 

The construction, so far, has gone very well. Very simple. I measured from my waist down to get a length for the coats (front and back - they are often different), then added inches for seam allowances. The fabric was fiddly to tear, so I pulled a thread out and cut along the open space to get the rectangles. The selvedges became the side seams, which were done up in running stitches with an occasional backstitch thrown in for good measure. Space was left open at the top for pocket slits. Then I hemmed the bottom with a 1/2" hem, also stitched the same way. Next both coats will have the top (waist edge) folded down and pleated to a band of tape. Wool for the wool and linen for the linen. Easy peasy.

As an experiment, I decided to do these in assembly line fashion, instead of one at a time. It seems to be faster, since each step I am doing twice in a row, instead of completely one petticoat and starting all over again.

The leather is still unfinished at the tabs.

The stays, above, are completely hand sewn, as well, and done up as true to the 18th century way as I have learned. In the last week, I made the eyelets up the back (linen 16/2 from William Booth), tacked leather strips down the seams and started binding the bottom with leather as well. I got the leather from Burnley and Trowbridge.

So tough! The leather is killing me. I - of course - use a thimble, but it is still no easy task. It's taken hours and I have gone through a few needles already, but I'm a little bit thrilled to be nearing the end and being one step closer to having my own hand sewn stays. Yay :)

So on to the pinball...

Queen stitch looks like little diamonds to me.

I started stitching this up thinking it would go oh-so-quickly. Queen stitch turns out to be very tedious, especially when it's almost white on white! But I think it's looking cute so far :) I loosely based the design on an extant pinball from the Winterthur Collection. I smooshed it up in my hoop for the photo. 

I have used DMC cotton floss, separated into single strands, on a backing of white linen.

 And lastly, the bedgown, or shortgown. The only thing I truly finished this week.

Sorry, I need a pressing.

I used the Waverly curtains for this one. It's such a pretty chintz! I am not 100% sure of the weave for this kind of project, but I liked the fabric too much to be a nazi :)

I scaled up a pattern from Costume Close Up, and then added inches here and there so it would fit me. Looking back, I would have added a smidge extra to the sleeves. The length is just past the hip, so it could have used a bit more there as well, to look like the shortgowns I have seen in paintings and prints, however I need it for a mantua making workshop, where I'm sure I will be taking it on and off frequently for fitting, and I didn't want yards of loose of fabric tangling around me.

The short gown is lined and sewn with white linen. The seams/hems follow the instructions in the book, as best I could understand. They are a mix of combination stitch (running with occasional back), whip stitch, slip stitch and point a rabbatre sou la mains. The assembly entails stitching the fashion fabric layers and one lining together, then folding the second lining over it and stitching that down to enclose the seam. There is a nice illustration of this in Costume Close Up.

Piecing! I love piecing :)

Inside, just for a peak at the different finished seams.
Hem: le point a rabbatre sou la mains (the
 exterior looks almost like a running stitch)
Left verticle: combo stitch on the inside
Right verticle: whip stitch
Below pic: the seam along the underside of the cuff 
  shows a slip stitch, which doesn't really show at all.

*Update! Katie Jacobs has pictures of the original pinball on her blog. Click here for a really good close up and here for lots of pictures via flickr. I so wish I had seen the flickr pics before started! Such good close ups!