Monday, December 30, 2013

A black wool spencer for HSF #26. Celebrate!

I'm celebrating because I actually finished this before the year ended! Yay!

My last project of 2013 was a black wool spencer, circa 1800. There are a lot of era fashion plates showing these cute little black spencer jackets, with open, pointy fronts, high waists and collars. See some on the pinterest board here. I kind of meshed together the general look and draped a pattern on my mannequin (fun fact: her name is Headless.)

I constructed the jacket by laying out the pieces, folding under the seam allowances, basting fabric and lining and then stitching the pieces together.

I was really pleased how easy the collar was to lay out and attach. Collars kind of intimidate me. Maybe because they are so obvious if they're wrong. It's lined in buckram.

The jacket is lined in scrap gingham cotton I had left over. I chose to line the front pieces in the same fabric as the jacket, as they will hang open and show.

I wasn't crazy about how the dress's waist showed, so after some debate, I added a little peplum to the back and might add covered buttons where the back seams meet the waist.

The front pieces are far more flattering on a human :)

And the inside.

Next up, accessories and a new ball gown! Same era. Fun stuff ahead.

Happy new year everyone!!!

Sunday, December 29, 2013

2013 In Review

Merry Christmas everyone!

I was looking back on the year and all the things I made and didn't get around to and, of course, those pesky UFO's. It's been a busy year, but I still found time to sew. Not as much as I had planned, but hey...

Actually my costuming energy was more devoted to buying fabric and antiques, this year, but that was quite fun, and I have accumulated some gorgeous fabrics. I will hate to cut into them! I'll be sharing them as projects come up. Hopefully they will inspire me to sew more.

And I must apologize, where I found time to sew, the blogging suffered. Next year I really plan to take more time photographing and sharing about techniques etc I have learned, because this year I really tried to learn more about context and construction of garments through history.

So on to 2013, in review.

I started the year finishing up a pair of blue worsted, half-boned stays. Hand sewn. I absolutely hate them. But on the bright side, I got to learn how stays were really constructed. They were a rough draft, I suppose.

I made a blue stuff petticoat and a white linen petticoat, and some white linen mitts, trimmed with leftover chintz.

I brought out the sewing machine for a sheer, white cotton, 1860's dress. This was probably my favorite thing I made this year. It fits beautifully and was perfect for the hot, Vegas summer. I wore it three times this year, and I have nothing to complain about it. I even washed it in the washer very easily.

Another favorite was a pair of turn of the century riding/cycling pants of brown wool. This was one of the most fun outfits to wear. I have some fabric left over. I must make a matching bodice one day.


Ah this poor thing... Still not actually finished, but I've worn it twice already, anyway. I like it. It fits well, and when worn indoors, it has an awesome train to swish around. For this natural form gown, I also made a ruffly petticoat and a balayeuse. 

In August, I made a little 18th century jacket and cap. The cap was started on my one day of Costume College. It was fun. I really want to attend more of the weekend next year.

September was the busiest month for me. I made a pair on linen stays, shoes, a 1790's gown, a cape, fan, lacy kerchief, wig and rump. I wore them all to a ball in Virginia. The stays started out as a fun, hand sewing project, but I ended up stitching the channels with the machine, to get them ready in time. 

The shoes were once American Duchess Pemberlies that were too large. The rump was once a fancy pillowcase.

October was spent making cold weather garments for the 1860's. My husband sprained his ankle quite badly, so we didn't end up going to the event. Bright side, though, now I have a wool pelerine and matching hood (shown below when it was not finished), a tasseled velvet, wrapped hood (not shown), a navy wool, knit sontag (not shown - but I love it!!) and a faux ermine muff, complete with chain. The muff was made of rabbit fur and silk, dotted with fuzzy alpaca yarn.

October also gave way to learning about turn of the 19th century fashion. I attended a Pride and Prejudice and Zombies ball, which I made a pair of stays, a shawl, a knit reticule, earrings, a petticoat and a gown for. 

Last month saw the start of a 1905ish petticoat. It's practically done. Just missing the waistband. I had a horse show, so this got put on the back burner. 

Now I'm sitting in my sewing room, for the first time after a busy, festive December, and I am working on a black wool spencer and making plans for a Regency era ball outfit for January. I think the spencer will be done before New Year's so I'm going to include it. Here's a quick glimpse of the the draped muslin for it. I'm kind of in love with it. I hope it turns out well!

Cheers to a wonderful 2014, all! And many, many more outfits!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Veteran's Day Parade

Ah, sunnier, warmer times... 

Last month (and forgive me for the major delay in posting) it was surprisingly warm for the Veterans' Day Parade. The Southern Nevada Living History Association walked in the parade. The men were soldiers from different eras and the ladies spanned a good 80 years.

I was the earliest, in my natural form dress (that still isn't finished). I've worn it twice now and it still has basting stitches. Haha oh well.

For the parade, I left my snazzy trained skirt at home, and instead wore an old black costumey skirt I bought ages ago. But only about a foot showed, so it worked out great. And I didn't bring a ton of asphalt and grease home with me :)

So why wear an unfinished dress with the wrong skirt, you ask? Well, an excuse to wear the bonnet of course!

I got a new bonnet recently, from Mrs. Parker's Mercantile, and I was super stoked to have an excuse to wear it :) Yay!

In other news, I did a lot of sewing in October and November. Unfortunately I didn't get great photos of any of it, so I haven't posted about it. I made up an 1860's paletot and hood, an "ermine" muff and a early 1900's petticoat. Oh! And I knit a sontag, which I love. So, hopefully soon I will have an excuse to wear them and I can get some good photos to share.

Next up... more regency bits for the Jane Austen Evening in Pasadena next month. Anyone else going?

Saturday, November 9, 2013

A look at my new regency bits.

For the Pride and Prejudice and Zombies Halloween ball I attended recently, I had to come up with a new wardrobe quite quickly. I put the most time into the short stays, as I figured I should do them properly and be able to use them again. I used the Sense and Sensibility pattern for this. 

I have read conflicting stories about whether short stays did or did not exist during the regency. The pattern says they did, and it was based on an extant example. Of course, I don't know what year this was. Regardless of authenticity, I chose short stays because they are small and went together quickly, even hand sewn.

I did the channels in a running stitch and corded them with doubled, sport weight cotton yarn. I did some quilting in the panels, too, but it's very hard to see in these photos. The stays are made of a layer or cotton lining, twill interlining, and linen on the exterior.

One note about this pattern. For my size (at least), even when boned, the center front bowed out when worn and didn't lay against the chest, to allow the gussets to separate the boobs. It did lift, though... If I made this pattern again, I might forgo the gussets and use gathered cups instead. Just a thought.

I will say, though, it was very comfortable and fit well, even while bouncing around dancing. 

For the dress, I chopped my basic 18th century bodice, changing the back seams (and everything else by the end, of course lol!). I tried to go for the 1799-1802 look, judging by fashion plates. I constructed it using 18th century techniques.

By no means am I saying this was how regency dresses were constructed. I really didn't know how and needed a dress lickity split, so my logic was a) I get how 18th century dresses were made (mostly the regency era sleeve and shoulder area was where I was clueless), and b) my 1790's dress was made this way... so perhaps it carried on a few years later and I suppose it's logical to think in 1799, a dress could have been constructed like this. Transitional fashion? I don't know...

Not to mention, what I could machine sew (without it showing), I absolutely did. Which is why the gathers are kind of ugly.  Oh well, speedy speedy... I can always take it apart one day.

A few things I do know about this era of dressmaking, which I learned at the Road to Regency Symposium, are evident in the front of the gown. 

First, the front panel of the skirt is cut like 18th century petticoats, in that you slash the top couple inches to allow for a better drape. You can kind of see this through the sheer fabric, in the photo. When I wore it, the white under layers made this invisible, as were the seams and selvages, which are very evident against the dark background, in these photos. 

Second, the bodice front. The bodice crosses under the bib and is fastened with pins, over which the front, which is cut on the bias, for a better fit, is pinned. 

Third, the skirt panels are cut appropriately. The front is a narrow rectangle, the back is a wider rectangle and the sides are a rectangle cut diagonally, arranged so the narrow portion is at the waist and the wider at the hem, to keep as much bulk away from the waist as possible, while allowing the hem to be full.

The petticoat is cut the same way, but minus the bodice and it has shoulder straps. It can be partially seen in the topmost photo. It closes in the back.

I wish I paid more attention to the Regency info at the symposium. I took notes, but I was more enthralled with the late 18th century stuff and my attention was all to that. Ah well.

And below are a couple better pictures of my new knitted, beaded reticule. I am not a knitter really, so this was really fun to make. No pattern. I just loaded up some beads, cast on some crochet thread to the thinnest needles I had, and started going. It's a tiny little thing, but I have heard reticules being described as frivolous and just big enough to hold a few coins. I love stuff like that. 

And I'm really liking knitting more. Annnnddd, it's really fun to step in to a new era. It always a bit overwhelming, but it's fun to have new things to be inspired about.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies Ball

After the last ball I went to, at Gadsby's, I was super bummed I didn't know any of the dances, or really how to dance at all. So, this last month, I was motivated to go to a few English Country Dance classes. So fun!

Last night was the Pride and Prejudice and Zombies ball. Mom and I donned our dancing shoes (and fake blood) and had a blast. We dressed turn of the 19th century, inspired by some great fashion plates

The pictures aren't amazing, but it was pretty dim.

I haven't spent very much time researching early 1800's dress construction, so for the pattern, I took my basic 18th century bodice pattern and hacked it up a bit. I constructed the dress using 18th century techniques, as seemed logical to me, making allowances for a bib front, more period appropriate back seams and the sheer fabric.

I was on a major time constraint with this outfit, so I took a lot of shortcuts, machine stitching as much as I could, like the long seams and even the gathers. I also made a pair of short stays and a petticoat with straps. 

I forgot to take a picture of the short stays (from the Sense and Sensibility pattern), but those I hand sewed. I figured it would be wise to do them properly so I could use them again. Here are a couple in progress shots, from when I was cording them.

Oh! And one from when I had been fitting the dress. And the shift, I picked that up at the Road to Regency Symposium. It was purchased from the Silly Sisters. In hindsight, I probably wore the wrong shift for the dress, because it cuts off halfway down my arm. Oops.

Accessorizing was fun with this outfit. I noticed this side-slung necklace thing going on in a few period fashion plates, like this one. It's so weird. I love it. I added buff-colored, kid skin gloves, a teensy reticule and gladiator-esque flats (beige ghillies).

Special thanks to Jen at Festive Attyre for her great post about easy shawls. I stitched two shawls together to get that decadent length. Speaking of length, the train was not even an issue with the dancing. I pinned the train up during the dancing and it worked out great.

The knit reticule is my submission for the Trystan's Costume Closet October Accessories Challenge. Post on that to come! It's kind of inspired by this extant reticule.

For mom, I took my old Chemise a la Reine and changed the sleeves. I never added a drawstring to the waist, because I was lazy, but that worked out perfect for this. We raised the waistline with silk ribbon, wrapped in imitation of this fashion plate, and this one. I love it! And it kind of has a spider web aesthetic, too. Very appropriate.

The dancing is such fun. I think we will continue to keep up with the classes. Jane Austen Ball in the future perhaps...

Hope everyone had a fun Halloween!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

A Ball

The Stolen Kiss, by Fragonard

Over the weekend I attended to the Road to Regency Symposium, held at the Gadsby's Tavern Museum, in Alexandria, Virginia. It was a wonderful event. So many great workshops and speakers! An especially fun thing was getting to put on the white gloves and study a large assortment of extant garments, owned and shared by Mary Dearing. 

But today's post is about the ball. At the end of the weekend, everyone got dressed up and celebrated with a lovely ball. The attire spanned the 1770's to the 1820's. I went for about 1790, and took inspiration from one of my favorite paintings, The Stolen Kiss, by Fragonard. 

We started the evening -- we being my husband (who was such a sport, he even dressed up!) and I -- downstairs at the Tavern for dinner, then headed up to the ballroom. I started the night wearing a kerchief. I had with me a fur trimmed cloak, as well. I never did get a picture of me wearing it, but it was a fun accessory, not that it was really cold enough... I also accessorized with a powdered, hedgehog wig, trimmed with a black bow, a la the painting, my blue silk shoes and some aquamarine earrings.

Everyone looked so amazing!

Surprisingly, of my whole ensemble, my fan seemed to be getting the most attention. I say surprisingly, because it was a last minute addition to my outfit. The morning of the flight I decided I wanted a fan, so I took a white paper fan from Townsend, outlined it in gold marker, and glued a printed out painting on it, which I also outlined in gold. It was such a quick and easy project. I'm glad I made it now.

Below has got to be my favorite picture of the whole night. And I took it totally by accident. For those who haven't been to Gadsby's, that little doorway, up on the wall, is the entrance to the musician's balcony.

Unfortunately I didn't take too many pictures throughout the evening, and even less were taken of me. Isn't that how it always goes when you're having fun?! Below is a fun one, though, via twitter, taken by Gretchen Bulova.

When I found out I was going to the ball, and needed an outfit, I originally purchased some pink fabric to do up. When the days kept passing, and the fabric didn't arrive, I went through the stash and found the blue/brown shot silk (reads as green in the photos) that I had bought back in 2010, with the Fragonard painting in mind. Once I unpack, I'll have to take proper pictures of the gown and accessories to share how they were made up.

It was a really fun night, and whole weekend, and everyone I met was lovely and so welcoming. I can't wait for another one!

Oh, and p.s., I wore my new rump and it turned out great! ;)