Friday, December 26, 2014

The belated Christmas dress (that I may or may not hate).

After the quick and easy success of my wool trousers, I thought a dress would be a breeze. I was going to see The Nutcracker Saturday evening, so on a whim Saturday morning, I started in on a 1930's frock, somehow thinking I could finish it in a day. Crazy, I know. 

Well, I actually got pretty far. I gave up a half hour before I had to get dressed to leave. I was one hem and closure short of a wearable dress.

The closure, though. Ick.

I'm not sure what to do, now that I have no deadline to finish (maybe New Years?...). In my speed race, I was thinking of slicing the back open to the hem (currently it ends in a slash that goes into the CB skirt piece) and putting in an easy zipper. The pattern, however, calls for a continuous lap placket, closing with worked button holes and buttons. 

But in all honesty, I don't know if I'm going to like this dress enough to commit my time to all those button holes/loops. I'm not sure what to do now. I could do tube button loops. Not that that is much easier. Not to mention, hard to get in and out of! Or do I close up the back with a seam the length of the dress, and put a sneaky zipper or hooks in the side seam? Help. Opinions, please!!

Well, it's on it's way, I guess. I don't know if I like it, though. It's kind of a weird fabric, which is not terribly flattering on the body. It even makes my mannequin look fat! I might change the sleeves, which may help, since, in general, the dress kind of swallows me up. Maybe the festive little flouncy sleeve on the pattern envelope... Something needs help.

And it looks so chic in the illustration. Haha, I thought this had a chance of being a one day project! Bah!

Thursday, December 25, 2014

HSF #23: Modern History. A pair of 1930's trousers.

The Challenge: #23, Modern History

Fabric: Lightweight wool suiting in a green Glen plaid

Pattern: Wearing History's Smooth Sailing Trousers

Year: 1930's

Notions: Thread, buttons

How historically accurate is it? Good, I guess.

Hours to complete: The prep took an afternoon, and the sewing another afternoon. Very quick.

First worn: Last weekend, for a Christmas party

Total cost: I think I got the wool on sale for about $7/yd. And it took about 3 yards, I think.


Well first off, Merry Christmas to all! I hope everyone has been having a lovely holiday season.

Over here it's been pretty busy, but I still found a couple afternoons to whip up a new pair of 1930's trousers. I so love the Wearing History pattern! It goes together so nicely and quickly and just makes a really good looking pair of pants.

For this pair, I used some lightweight plaid wool. I deviated from the pattern by adding a lapped, side closure with buttons instead of a zip. Next pair, I want to add some pockets!  

And they're comfy enough for playing with the pups, too!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

"One man's trash...," they say. Or, why is corset busk in the middle of the desert?

In the middle of nowhere, miles even from the nearest ghost town, guess what I see on the desert floor? A corset busk!

And a button.

Why are these things here? Well, I've mentioned Goldfield before. It was a big deal city in Nevada during the mining boom in the early 1900's. The city was massive, and then it was basically leveled by fires in the 20's. 

Between a major flood in 1913, the fires in the 20's, subsequent rain and water flow, wind and the elements, and general dumping of garbage, during the period, the surrounding desert is scattered with 100 year old trash. And it's fascinating.

Owing to the remoteness of the location and the lack of population, the surrounding desert has been left untouched for a century. Over the years, as it rains, and things that were buried work their way to the surface, it's truly amazing what can be seen. 

And so why were we in Goldfield again? Well, we bought a historic building!!!

My husband and I are so jazzed to have the honor of restoring this gem and contributing to the history of this town, which we have so fallen for.

Below are some early pictures that were given to us by the former owner. It shows the building though some of it's incarnations. It was a bank and pharmacy, with office spaces on the upper floors.  Later it was a restaurant and bar. 

It was actually partially destroyed in a fire, in 1924, which shows in the photo below, and then rebuilt promptly after. In some of the upper rooms, charring from the fire can still be seen when you lift the windows and look within the framing!

We might even be inheriting a ghost! Legend says that Claudia haunts the building, after an untimely death in the 1920's. We shall see!

Can't wait to start this adventure! Happy Thanksgiving, all!

Sunday, November 2, 2014

A bit more on the sontag and dotted sheer.

Front, flat.

Just a few more close up's of the dress and accessories from my last post.

The sontag is done up in navy blue wool yarn, in a garter stitch. As I had mentioned, a knitting instructor cobbled me up a pattern, I believe from Ravelry patterns. I added the loops and ties and tassels. The loops and ties were done by knitting two stitches over and over again, slipping to the opposite needle before each pass, so instead of knitting two stitches back and forth, they create a little square cable. Very handy to learn.

From the back.

I added a yarn-covered button to the center back, to anchor the loops. I can't remember if I had seen this on originals, or if it was in the pattern, or if it just made sense.

I'd really like to add some trim to this piece. Maybe soon!

And a close up of my jewelry accessories. I didn't add a picture of the belt, as I have worn it plenty before. The brooch is micro mosaic. I could't get a close enough picture to be clear, but it is amazing to see all the little bits of material that make up the flower motif.

And some pictures of details on the dress. Nothing terribly exciting. I used the same Truly Victorian pattern as my last sheer dress. The bodice is basically the same, except I substituted pagoda sleeves for the bishop style in the pattern, to match the original dress, which lives at the Centraal Museum in Utrecht.

For the trim on the sleeves, I gathered strips onto cord, stitched them down and then removed the cord. I did the same for the ruffles on the skirt.

To finish off the hems of the sleeves, I faced them with self-fabric. I think the extra layer added a bit of stability to the otherwise floppy sleeves.

Inside the sleeve hem.

The waistband was done the same as the pattern, with gathering at the center back and finished off with piping along the waist. The skirt was gauged to a separate skirt waistband.

A bit of piping at the armscye.

The neckline is piped and finished to the inside. The shoulder seams are pressed toward the back, which I have seen on an original.

The inner lining is done to the pattern specifications. I fastened the waist with hooks and eyes and left the rest of the front free. The neckline closes with a brooch.

The skirt has a large ruffle at the hem, that covers the foundation skirt and hem tape. Two smaller ruffles overlap it. Third to come!

The under sleeves are two large tubes of spotted cotton organdy, gathered to a wristband, and fastened with little china buttons.

And to add to the fun of the weekend, the reenactment was in the Sunday paper and my dress made an appearance! How fun! 

Hope everyone else had a lovely weekend. Cheers to a great November ahead!

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Accommodating the weather, 1860's style.

Well today was fun. It's the first chance I've gotten, in months, to cinch up the corset and engage in a little time traveling.

It's usually sunny and hot for the reenactment here in town, so I planned a new sheer dress, based on this pretty thing at the Centraal Museum in Utrecht. Do forgive the hem. The grass is quite high and messy, but on level ground, it hangs nicely all around. 

I used a white semi-sheer cotton, dotted with lilac. I'm usually not a huge fan of purple, but this fabric, I just had such a thing for.

Eventually it will have three ruffles on the skirt, but I ran out of time. The last one is still on my sewing table waiting to be applied. One of my favorite details of the dress is the ruching on the sleeves, that match the skirt, which can be seen on the top photo. Another detail I like, is that the hem that one sees is actually a large ruffle. This is nice, because the skirt remains frothy and light after the hem tape is added to the foundation skirt. I noticed this with special thanks to the zoom feature on the website.

Little did I know, when I laid out my summery sheer, the night before, that the weather was going to go crazy. Apparently it poured rain through the night. By the time I went to park, it was windy like crazy, mixed with bouts of blazing sun. The sontag and shawl went on and off and on and off. Thank you, easy layers.

Actually I was very comfortable all day. I'm always so surprised how accommodating to the weather historical clothing is. Even the under sleeves help with wind and sun and cold. I was never too cold, and the only part of me that was bothered was my face, which got nicely wind-burned. By the time I got home I was pink!

I made the sontag last year, from a mix of patterns on Ravelry. I'm not sure which ones. I asked for help on it at a knitting class and the teacher wrote me up something easy to follow. It's all garter stitch, so it was super beginner friendly.

It was so nice to have with me today. Very, very warm and cozy, and such a nice accessory, as well.

Ooo ominous clouds...

I love this one! Some guests asked for us to pose for a photo, so my mom (who was lovely and surprised me with much needed coffee), snapped one, too. Can I be a little jazzed I got to take a picture with Mr. Lincoln? His hat. So awesome!

This little nugget was an eBay find. I think it's 1850's. The wind took a little bite out of my hair, but I was pretty proud of it, just the same. No hairpieces! Woot!

And a very special guest came to visit me today! My darling little puppy surprised me, bringing my husband along, too ;)

Hope everyone had a happy Halloween yesterday, too!

Monday, September 1, 2014

Inside the Robe de Madras

While I finish up some accessories to complete the look, I thought I'd share some of the inside of this dress. After all, the guts are my favorite part. I always look forward to seeing the insides of garments. Reproductions and originals.

The dress is mostly hand sewn. I only cheated on the long skirt seams. I have this weird, skewed view of hand sewing vs. machine, depending on the era. For 18th century, I enjoy hand sewing every centimeter. I revel in it. For mid 19th and forward, I mostly do machine, though I have been doing more and more by hand for convenience (yes, I just said that - I love hand sewing, both for the results and the process of it). 

For early 19th, it kind of falls in the middle. I don't reenact the era, so authenticity is for my enjoyment/education alone. I really enjoy sewing the fun bodice/hem seams, but get a little bored on the long skirt seams. I don't know, when 90% of the dress is done by hand, maybe I should just suck it up and get my running stitch on for those skirt panels... 

I will say, for 18th and early 19th, there are seams that are simply impossible to do by machine. 

Ah, here was a new one. On my other dresses of this era, I have just pinned the closures. On this dress I tried something different and did hooks on one side and eyelets on the other. I have not seen this in an extant dress, but it worked out great. The hooks go into the eyelets and the front is then very smooth under the bib. Also, having eyelets instead of metal loops doesn't cause the same pulling that can happen where the loops are stitched on. I like it. I'll have to look into seeing if hooks were even used for this at all. And hey, if not, I can always remove the hooks and just finish up that side with eyelets.

On a side note, that one layer of linen, at the front, is surprisingly strong! I tried on the dress without stays, after I had finished it, and the bodice really holds you up! It gives me ideas for a new, lighter, bust support, instead of my short stays, depending on the dress, of course.

The dress was based on the fashion plate of the same name. The pattern was draped over my Museo del Traje dress I wore to last years Jane Austen Evening. I love the fit of that dress. I only had to change the back closure to a bib front for this dress.

And my favorite part of any patterned fabric: the matching. 

I'm not kidding. I totally love doing this. It's like a puzzle! I love me some symmetry :)

Friday, August 29, 2014

And so it begins.

Here's to knitting my little fingers off. Cheers! Oh, but those sleeves are just so fabulous and worth it.

And, in other news... The Robe de Madras. One of my favorite fashion plates. Such a crazy, loud, bonkers fabric. I totally love it. A totally different direction than the LWD. Toquet a Pointes in the near future. And snazzy little polkadot bag, too, I'm sure.

Details (and better pics) to come. Have a wonderful holiday weekend, all!

Friday, August 22, 2014

HSF #15: The Great Outdoors

For this challenge I knocked an 18th century habit shirt off my to-do list. Yay!

The Challenge: #15, The Great Outdoors

Fabric: Handkerchief weight linen

Pattern: Kannik's Korner men's shirt 1750-1800, modified for a ladies' shirt, using information from Cunnington's "History of Underclothes."

Year: Later 18th century

Notions: 60/2 linen thread, 16/2 linen thread for buttons, cotton tape for waistband.

How historically accurate is it? As close as possible.

Hours to complete: Took about four days, sewing in the afternoons and evenings.

First worn: Not yet!

Total cost: The linen cost $22/yd, but I'm not sure how much I ended up using. Maybe a yard or so.

The shirt was very simple, if time consuming, to make. Tiny stitches! The instructions on the Kannick's Korner pattern were very helpful. I also referenced the man's shirt in "Costume Close Up." I will probably add ruffles to the shirt when I decide on what particular habit to make. 

Shirt construction is so interesting! With all the little reinforcements and gussets. Very fun to put together.

I chose thread buttons for the collar so they would be soft under the cravat. Next up, a cravat, I guess.

I thread a tape through a channel on the back hem, putting eyelets in the ends of the channel.

I love a good button hole :)

I'm really jazzed about my sleeve links! I copied Georgian examples with bits from the jewelry section and some "paste" buttons. There's currently some on eBay that inspired me. I don't know, for sure, if ladies wore sleeve links with habit shirts, but I know they wore them on shift's sleeves and I know habit shirts were basically like men's shirts, so I figured why not!

The sleeve links were so easy to make. I'll be keeping an eye out for good buttons from now on. Oh the possibilities!