You win some, you have to laugh at some

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You win some, you have to laugh at some

Have you ever wondered what it would look like if an 18th century petticoat and a caftan had a baby? Well look no further than the new Simplicity Pattern #8593. You too can sport the giant-baby-bib look. I bought the pattern as it was on sale at the J and I was planning to attend a 1940s airshow. It’s from their vintage collection, dated the 40s and sounds perfect right?…well…let’s start at the beginning…

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Always be suspicious if there’s only one sample

I ordered some very smart white seersucker from fabric.com, two thumbs up washed beautifully and lovely hand. For being a white on white stripe it’s not even that see through.  Will order again.

One thing this pattern has going for it is speed. I chucked my fabric in the wash on Saturday at 1pm and with a dinner break, and internet farting around still managed to have a fully finished garment at 10:45. With the speed I sew that was fairly impressive.

So what’s unique about this weirdo blouse/poncho/Chippendale’s sized apron? It doesn’t have side seams. The idea is that you tie the back around the front and the front over the back. The sides over lap leaving a gap for your hamhocks erm arms to stick out. Lets say this does not work exactly as planned.

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Would you like to see all the way through to my nipple or shall I angle myself so you just get tasteful side boobage? I wore a camisole as I would with any girdled outfit (sophisticated ladies don’t believe in chaffing)…but one small breeze and the world could tell you if I’d remembered to wear my bra right side out.

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Gonna go out on a limb and say this was NOT my most flattering shirt to date

I made version D with a peplum because what I lack in hips I make up for in abdominal girth and thought it might be slimming. I think the tucked in version MIGHT have gaped less, but any time you moved it opened amounts varying from “tasteful side boob” to “why am I feeling a massive breeze.” Whole thing felt very disconcerting to wear because of said breeze. Like that nightmare you have where you’re in high school and somehow forgot the side half of your shirt.

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Hey baby, like my target camisole? I’m so period correct

I thought it might be more flattering if I tried it without the peplum? tucked in maybe? Perhaps the weight of the skirt waistband would hold the sides together more firmly and I’d feel less of a cross breeze?

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I’m too embarrassed by what I’m wearing to look at you in the eyes…hiding my shame

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I swear all I drank was tea.

That would be a big ‘ole NOPE on the more flattering.

 

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Pro tip, cardigans hide a multitude of sins. like errant side camisole.

A few final thoughts: Do I regret making this weirdly aerated crumb catcher? Of course not! Firstly it was hilarious to wear, secondly it was more of a “what on earth would that thing that looks good on paper actually DO in real life” sometimes you just get so curious. I could probably put some buttons in the side higher up and limit the gappage. But honestly I look enough like a linebacker without 4″ of shoulder sticking out after me. And in case you were wondering if fit was part of the issue I did try it on my friend Alice who is smaller than me to see if more over lap front to back would lesson the wind tunnel effect. Nope. Still a girl in a giant art smock ready for a messy lunch who’s very concerned with getting proper ventilation to her pits. In summary: I’d probably skip this pattern, unless you get really really hot in the side rib 28672562588_35ab77dc77_ocage and require extra breezes.

 

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Copper 1790s Open Robe

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Copper 1790s Open Robe

Every year the Dallas Ft. Worth Costumers Guild hosts a stunning Georgian Picnic, and every year us on the east coast wish we were as cool. So this year Amanda and I decided we should have a knock off version here.  Think of it as the bag you buy on the street that’s by “Coach” but they spelled it with a K.


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We set a really wide date range as “Georgian” can go 1714-1830 if you really push it, so anyone who wanted to come could find an outfit. The location we picked was Historic Strawberry Mansion in Fairmount Park, Philadelphia (mostly on a random internet search and let me tell you it was perfection and they are SO NICE). As Strawberry Mansion was heavy remodeled in the Federal Style I decided I wanted something at the turn of the century.

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A well dressed man, the best of accessories

Years ago Amanda gave me this gorgeous copper silk that told me it wanted to be an open robe, then I just hadn’t had an event to make said open robe FOR and it languished…no longer!

Looking around I was heavily inspired by robes with elaborate pleated backs. What can I say I’m incapable of picking the easy thing.

I started with my basic regency bodice, which is a heavily bastardized version of the Simplicity regency pattern. Did two more mock ups than I would like to discuss and cut out the lining from plain cotton broadcloth. Then I cut a width of silk  a few inches longer than my center back length to allow for wiggle room.

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I started by folding the width in half. This silk was 40″ wide giving me 20″ of pleating on each side. But if you had wider fabric you could use deeper pleats or take them all the way to the edges. In the above photo you can see that the first time I pleated it up I went with more vertical parallel pleats and decided they weren’t as flattering as curving them.

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I promise it only LOOKS asymmetrical because I hadn’t trimmed it evenly…and got most of the way through and realized I had 10 pleats on one side and 11 on the other…I curse a lot then fixed it.

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From there it was a “simple” matter of carefully sewing down down the pleats. One at a time.

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After I sewed all the pleats down I laid the pattern back over the back and trued up the piece as it had skewed and stretched with sewing. I folded the side of the side backs down and top stitched them down so they would blend with the rest of the pleats. I hemmed the neckline, armscyes and sewed the two skirt panels together….then I was out of time.

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I had a 12 hour work day and then guests coming and the poor thing was going to be in the UFO bin forever…but did I mention how AMAZING my friends are? I walked in the door from work on Friday night and Carolyn and Taylor were hemming my skirt..and did I mention they’re hella faster than I am at hand sewing?

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TA-DAAAAAAA

Basically what I’m saying is I can claim like 50% of this dress. And I am enterally grateful to them because I felt SO FANTASTIC wearing it. My “turban” is just a strip of leftover silk. I’m wearing the Dames a la mode Jane Austen cross and new turquoise earrings.

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why is my mom always saying he’s such a “good sport”

 

 

I can heartily endorse everyone make an open robe as they are ridiculously fun to swan around in. We’ll just pretend that my hem didn’t get dragged around the lawn…

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And if you get the chance? VISIT STRAWBERRY MANSION

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and never take yourself too seriously

Thank you to Taylor, Carolyn, Adrienne and Amanda for photos!

Remember to shop small

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Remember to shop small

On this Small Business Saturday I wanted to take a moment to shout out to my favorite small costume businesses. This community of ours is rich and vibrant with many successful small businesses. When shopping for holiday gifts this year think about supporting some of these great (mostly woman run) companies.

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Want gorgeous jewelry? Taylor is the woman! Her collet necklaces are all handcrafted from gorgeous settings. Not only is she a true artist she’s one of the nicest people I’ve ever met. I wear her earrings to work on an almost daily basis. Cannot recommend her enough.

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Need a corset? or corset pattern? Redthreaded has you covered! My new 1860s corset is from her pattern and I LOVE it. Also one of the nicest people…sensing a theme here.

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I have a pair of their Connie shoes I wear with all of my 18th century stuff. I love the straight lasts and they have held up like iron for 10 years. 

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B&T have fabulous period correct fabric and their kerchiefs are my personal favorites

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Historic hair. All of it. The supports, the BANGS. love it. 

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Gloria makes lovely custom jewelry, another person who’s earrings feature in my work wardrobe regularly.

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Can’t have a historical small business list without AD. For all of your footwear needs!

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Okay so they’re not historical, but all of my favorite stockings are from them. 

So that’s my little reminder of suggestions. Do you have any favorite small businesses I should include on the list? Who did I forget?

Pineapple the third

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Pineapple the third

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Guys it’s possible I have a problem. But this time it isn’t my fault! I promised Jenny-Rose a pineapple last Christmas as a barter and thus ended up making my THIRD pineapple reticule. Which really is two more than most sane people make.

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I used the knitty magazine pattern which I really prefer of the two, but it’s the same thread as Amanda’s pineapple. I had a bunch left over. The gold beads are from Joann’s.

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This time instead of doing the bottom the same as the yellow fruit part I flipped it back around and knitted it as leaves. I added a bead to the decreases. I’m not sure that was the best place/method as they keep trying to pop to the inside. Clearly I didn’t get them in quite right.

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Overall I’m happy with this one. It’s a cute little purse. Holds a cell phone and a chapstick…you could probably fit a credit card in there too. I lined it with a scrap of cream silk, sadly I didn’t have yellow. I hadn’t bothered to line my other ones, and honestly it makes such a huge difference in the shape I went back and lined Amanda’s while at her house and will line mine before I use it again.

 

Kitted Pence Jug

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Kitted Pence Jug

This summer a facebook group I’m part of was hosting a Knit-along for a pence jug. The pattern was developed by Jamie of Tagsisyourit based on an original from the smithsonian dated 1830-1860.

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I shall try to resist making jug jokes…

But this is not a stand alone piece. There are lots of examples, some with stripes or color blocking. Most of the examples I found have beads. Most (if not all) that I’ve found are made of silk, which makes sense as it works really nicely for the bead work. And about 50% have some kind of…dangly…thing hanging off the butt end. (Pompoms being a personal favorite. What ISN’T improved by a pompom?!)

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“mid 19th century” from the MET

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1830-1860 from the Cooper Hewitt Collection


For my jug I used the pure silks tangerine beading thread size E. I’m not sure where it’s from as Adrienne very nicely shared. As well as lending me her size 0000 needles which were needed to work on this super tiny project. The original pattern calls for size 0 and size 00, but to get this thread tight you had to go tiny.. and oh boy is it tiny.

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We deemed it the haypenny jug

Overall I wasn’t super happy with it. There are really obvious joins where my three needles were, and working with tiny needles and thread definitely have a learning curve. But I did learn a ton and it was a very fast project to make up. Only 22 stitches per needle makes for quick work compared to the pineapples. I would highly recommend the pattern for anyone wanting to try a simple knitted purse. But be prepared for it to hold…minimal amounts.

 A few in progress pictures.

Adrienne also made one in the knit along…

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Her jugs are bigger than mine…sorry I couldn’t resist one

Here is the link to the ravelry page where you can see others made during the knit-along including Adrienne’s.

Now I’m pondering my next historical knitted tiny thing while I finish up a shawl I’ve had in the UFO pile all summer. What’s your favorite historic knitted accessory? A miser’s purse sounds alluring…

1940s Navy floral dress

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1940s Navy floral dress

Back in 2006 when I worked for the Company that Shall Not be Named, I got to work at the WW2 weekend put on by the Mid-Atlantic Air Museum (colloquially named the Reading Airshow). I had fun then but didn’t really get to explore much, that whole working thing. Somehow the idea of an outing was floated for this year and met with group approval.

 

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You can’t tell in this photo but it was 40mph winds and 50 degrees

I of course needed a new 40s dress as my last one tragically shrank in the closet. I was fishing around trying to decide what to do when visiting my parents my mom asked if I could ever use this rayon fabric? PERFECT! We expected it to be 90 degrees as it was June and had been a hot spring so it had to be rayon or cotton…we’ll revisit that later.

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The best thing about 1940s sewing is you can buy repro patterns from any of the major pattern companies, they seem to be trendy now. So I settled on Vogue V8728.

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Why? It didn’t have sleeves and I was feeling lazy (at least I’m honest?)

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Overall I was happy with the way the pattern went together. I cut the size based on my measurment (20 be still my expanding heart). There was a REASONABLE AMOUNT OF EASE and I didn’t have to take 12 inches out of it. I think in general Vogue is better about that, but I was still pleasantly surprised.

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I did find the neckline to be so wide it was almost impossible for my slip to not show, so Alice very nicely ran a row of gathering through the binding while I did my make up. Now that’s a good friend. So before I wear it again I need to take off the binding and pull in another could inches….lets be honest it’ll stay like this forever.

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I wore fully fashioned stockings that I inherited from Amanda because they were too big for her. Turns out they’re for giants as they were baggy on my fatter legs as well. I also ordered a Rago industrial girdle to try tame the tummy. I bought gloves at the flea market there because it was FREEZING. We planned for 90s..we got 50s.

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Also that’s my 18th century hat. Shhhh don’t tell on me

The event itself was wonderful. It’s an enormous re-enactment with thousands of people. The encampments are wonderfully done, my favorite being the French Village. The German’s take it in the morning and the Allies recover it in the afternoon. It’s so easy to appreciate the dedication put in by the people who make this event happen.

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Amanda and I looking picturesque in the French Village

Our favorite part was definitely getting a jeep ride around the grounds. It felt totally fun and just tiny bit dangerous.

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So despite freezing my rear off I will definitely try to go back next year.

Anyone have any other favorite retro patterns I should try?

Lavender Anglaise

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Lavender Anglaise

Once upon a time in a far away land (Pennsylvania circa 2008) I was working as an indentured servant to the lady Joann. I noticed amongst her wares this lavender silk dupioni. Since it was of fairly low quality and left over from someone’s special order it languished, and languished, until finally she let the price go to something I could afford on my pitiful salary. I planned to make the lavender dress in Costume Close Up. Just as soon as I thought my skills would do it justice….

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In the Colonial Williamsburg collection

Then I waited and waited till I achieved the mythical sewing mastery I was hoping for…………………………Finally Amanda asked if I would participate in a “dress in a day” style demo for a The Indian King Tavern where she volunteers, oh and did anyone have a dress length of silk?

When in doubt, if you don’t have the skill level to do your fabric justice? TRICK SOMEONE MORE TALENTED INTO IT!

We began with a linen lining cut to my 18th century body block. Amanda and Alice draped and pinned the en fourreau pleats.  For those NOT 18th century sewing nerds that means that those beautiful pleats going down the back start as one long piece of fabric from neck to floor and the pleats are shaped on the back and flare into the skirt. And when your friends have perfect tiny stitches the effect is quite beautiful. Adrienne worked on the petticoat. I stood there and looked helpful.

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fun fact my left hip is higher, yay scoliosis! 

We got…maybe 2/3 of the dress finished at the demonstration. While we’ve done a dress in a day in the past and ended up with a lot more dress, it’s just slower when you’re enjoying chatting with the public.

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I got the better end of the deal, it was 90 degrees in there, my undies WAY comfier                  Photo from the Friends of the IKT facebook page

Because we did not finish the dress in one day I took it home and did the finishing bits. It was much more pleasant to sew a fully fitted dress that I just had to hem and finish edges on. Oh and sleeves.

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We thought we would visit the IKT the week later for their presentation on tea in the 18th century (which was excellent) and to show off the finished gown. I borrowed Amanda’s DELIGHTFUL cupcake hat. I cried a little when I gave it back.

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Overall I’m really happy with this dress. I wore it polonaised like the original in the Colonial Williamsburg collection.  The silk is really poor quality so it put purple fluff fibers EVERYWHERE.

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We got asked a lot of questions about buttons and why didn’t women’s wear feature more buttons? And the best I can say (having not done a thesis on this) is that some women’s wear did have buttons, but experience has just told me how easy it is to adjust the fit on a pinned dress. Plus something with so little ease is hard to keep the buttons from pulling and rumpling.

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So that’s a huge costume off my bucket list. What dresses are on YOUR bucket list? Do you have any perfect fabric stashed for a someday project when you feel brave enough?

Now who wants to help me distract Amanda so I can make off with her hat forever…

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