Monday, September 23, 2013

A Fancy Quilted Bottom

My fancy new rump started life as a pillowcase. I fell in love with the fabric and knew I would use it for something, someday. It's cotton sateen, quilted, with tambour embroidery. Totally pretty. 

I've been a bit unhappy in the rump department lately. I have quite a few, but so far each one has a drawback. I was looking at Kendra of Demode Couture's excellent study of 18th century skirt supports, and thought I would try number three, which is basically crinoline quilted between layers. The so talented gal at Before the Automobile quilted a beautiful version of this rump, too.

Well, this was the cheater version, since the pillow case was already quilted. I took it apart, folded it in half and stitched the padded part to a strip of plain fabric from the back of the pillow, which was pleated and whipped to a waistband. I bound the front edges with leftover fabric, too.

So far, I like it. It can be worn alone, for a mild bit of pouf, or with a false rump or hips under it, to smooth out the line of the other skirt supports, like a mini quilted petticoat.

And wow, looking at that photo, I could really use a new dress form. Yikes, she is falling apart!

Saturday, September 21, 2013

White after labor day. Shh don't tell!

Today I went out to Spring Mountain Ranch for Pioneer Days. The Southern Nevada Living History Association set up a tent and promoted for the upcoming reenactment. I can't believe it's been a year already. 

I had a moment of trepidation, wearing such a summery dress, with fall around the corner, but it was in the 90's today - hot! - so I didn't feel bad for very long. And, big and pouffy as it is, this dress is such a hit with all the little girls, I like wearing it. I was totally one of them when I was that age - haha I still am! 

Obviously, I still get excited about playing dress up...

Today I accessorized with a black silk belt, buckle, brooch at the neck and a sheer paisley shall... from Target! I love it. It's so nice and flowy and sheer. It was perfect for the weather.

And after disrobing (skillfully) in the car, it came with me to lunch at Bonnie Springs, right around the corner from the ranch.

It was a good outfit day, 1860's-wise. My only regret: I found out about the event after getting a manicure... in black. Oopsie. Special thanks to gloves today!

And an interesting first for me... I threw this dress in the washer. The last time I wore it, it was for the Helldorado Parade, and the hem and parts of the skirt were downright black from the greasy asphalt. I shot the spots with Shout Advanced (amazing stuff!), let it sit a day or so, and then threw the whole thing in the wash. Cold water, soak, low spin. I hung it to dry, smoothing out the tucks and wrinkles as best I could. Then yesterday, when I decided to wear it today, I ironed out the skirt and used the steam to work out the wrinkles in the bodice and sleeves. The hem braid shrank a bit, but it was easily stretched back with a little steam iron and stretching it by hand.

It worked out really well. It's really not as scary as I assumed, putting a whole dress in the wash. It looked good today.


Wednesday, September 18, 2013

HSF #18: Re-make, Re-use & Re-fashion

A while ago, I purchased some American Duchess Pemberley's from the imperfect section, since I missed the initial order. My size was sold out, so I bought one size up. Turns out they were huge, but I knew if I kept them, they would come in handy one day...

The Challenge: #18 Re-make, re-use and re-fashion

Fabric: Blue silk taffeta and white linen for lining.

Pattern: Drafted by me, from the tops of the original shoes.

Year: 1780's

Notions: One pair American Duchess Pemberley's, leather for heels, shoe cement, silk thread, linen thread, cream silk ribbon.

How historically accurate is it? Hmm... the general design is good for the era. The fabrics are good and I tried to construct the uppers to the best of my 18th century knowledge. The shoe I took apart for them was modern and so the sole to upper construction was glued, instead of stitched. Maybe 70% for looks ( I glued on the sole) and 50/50 for construction, since the uppers were done as close as I could, to the best of my knowledge.

Hours to complete: About 7 or 8

First Worn: Not yet. Except around the house to admire them :)

Total Cost: The original shoes, which I bought a while back, so I don't know if it counts. I consider this a stash project, since I had everything at hand. The only thing I really bought was the shoe cement, which was about $10, I think.


It was a little bit scary ripping apart a pair of perfectly good, unworn shoes, but I had kind of a here-goes-nothing moment and started prying back the sole and then there was no turning back. To me, these shoes were most valuable for the heel. If anyone has tried to find heels like this to purchase, they like don't exist.

New and pretty...

...but too big.

I cut apart one of the tops at the seams and traced a pattern from them, making sure to make the pattern smaller, since the originals were too large. I also had to cut back the sole.

I got all carried away sewing so I forgot to take pictures, but basically I stitched the silk and lining together, following the logic of how 18th century clothing is constructed. I don't know a ton about 18th century shoe construction, so I tried my best to figure out what would work.

I bound the side seams and tops with cream silk. I pinked two strips of silk, gathered them up, and attached them to the fronts, then pinned the uppers to the soles, to attach. I used heavy linen thread across the bottoms the secure the uppers to the rest of the shoe. The only real roadblock was the heels. I don't know how they are attached to the shoe, but they don't unscrew, but they did spin. I pulled, but they didn't pop off. I didn't want to break something and have the heels be unusable, so I had to work the fabric and stitching around the post inside the heel. A little fiddly, but it worked out. 

Yay shoes! I put them on and did a little happy shoe dance before bed :)

Today I went and found shoe cement and reattached the soles. I also removed the plastic heel caps and replaced them with a thick leather I cut to size. I wish there had been a way to sew the soles on, instead of gluing them. The glue doesn't seem as sturdy as stitching would be, but I really couldn't see a way to stitch through the existing, modern shoe. 

All in all, I'm super pleased. I have always loved this look and I am thrilled to have a pair in my closet now. I would definitely make another pair some day. Maybe I can whittle out some wooden heels and make a really legit pair. Until then, this was actually a very easy thing to do.

Monday, September 2, 2013

My jacket, a new cap, a new pair of stays and a ball on the horizon.

Since it was a holiday today, I didn't have anything legit to do, so I had no excuse not to take the time to get dressed and take some photos of my new little jacket. I accessorized with, among other things, a linen cap I made in Janea Whitacre's thimble class at Costume College. It was pretty cool. She sketched me out a pattern for the cap in like two seconds, holding newsprint up to my head a little this way and that.  

In other news, I just finished a new pair of stays. The fastest I have ever made them. I started out all careful, hand stitching, with big plans. I was going to do them up properly for the HSF: Wood, Metal, Something challenge. Then I heard about the Road to Regency symposium and ball (eeek! yay!) at Gadsby's Tavern at the end of September. My husband and I love Alexandria so there's no excuse not to go. So I gave in and zipped the rest of the boning channels through the sewing machine. Everything else I hand sewed. You kind of have to. There's really no way to do anything but the channels on the machine. I figure when I'm not on a deadline I can do some fully boned stays up properly (and with an extra half inch of length... but that's a whole other issue).

I wore them all day today, fitting linings and petticoats and such (for the ball yay!). They are very comfortable, but ideally I would like to do the next pair with a little more length... for ahem, spillage issues. But that's kind of what I get for speeding through and not taking care in fitting. P.s. the pattern is J.P Ryan, which went together nicely.

Another way I saved time on the stays was to bind them with half inch linen tape instead of leather. The seams are also covered with quarter inch linen tape instead of leather. Fabric wise, the stays are made of yellow linen over two layers of white linen and a white linen lining. I used 16/2 linen for the eyelets. The boning is quarter inch reed.

Next up will be a new gown for the ball. I've always wanted to go to a ball at Gadsby's, since I was like twelve probably. I'm kind of stoked :) Eek!