1940s Navy floral dress

Standard
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.

 

34937169852_0dfbc731a2_o_zpskcmldwwh

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.

34971872091_29db0eb2d3_o

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.

v8728

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

34292527333_8cb5565c16_o

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.

maamww2 047_zpsd0ahplej

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.

34258481604_d7e9a0b520_o

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.

34292530343_5251382c40_o

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.

ea889c66-315a-48ff-afbf-f98067a7596d_zpsil05pids

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.

maam-adrienne01_zpsj25gg65g

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

Standard
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….

b7fba76d27a31461500369e559eb1988

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.

33711771393_efbe525985_o

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.

18199405_1297605156943008_1050862587654740840_n

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.

34541061705_6ea4a5b200_o

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.

34522052365_4349fafc11_o

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.

34155259410_baf3ecfb41_o (1)

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.

34520235345_94cd18f011_o

 

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…

34136253670_164545e0be_o

Orange Pet en l’aire

Standard
Orange Pet en l’aire

In my last post I casually teased that I went to Jennylafleur’s AMAZING Big Ass Hat Tea, it was pretty overwhelmingly fabulous.

An invitation to a Jennylafleur party is basically the golden ticket of costume events, and I felt pressure to live up to the people I would be with. I was waffling around trying to decide what on earth I wanted to make for this era I don’t really feel good in and my awesome friend Adrienne plopped orange check silk in my lap…yes the largest part of it is earmarked for my Gettysburg ballgown this year buuuuuut…a minimal amount of debate later (I.E. 30min over tea and cookies at sewing day) a plan was concocted for a pet en l’aire or caraco jacket.

 

12ce1919d9ae47da2ed23a3ae76afcf3

I am a big fan of this one in the LACMA collection

I started with Katherine’s francaise tutorial. If you’ve never read it and ever wondered anything about how to construct a francaise gown I demand you stop and read it…hold on I’ll wait…It blew your mind and made it all make sense didn’t it?!

33567764986_9c887b94ca_o

draping the back pleats on top of the fitted lining

Basically I followed the francaise tutorial but in short. Instead of inserting full side panels I laid out my side seams about 8″ in from the edge of the fabric to build in the skirting.

33608336955_78fb3b4d85_o

sewing pleats

I hand sewed all of it, mostly because I find period construction techniques just work better with hand sewing. Well that and I happen to find it really relaxing.

33681363636_420df393b1_o

Smoothing on the front panel..see that waist wrinkle?..more on that later

I did struggle with the waist dart, in the end, I let it win. I didn’t WANT to put in a waist dart, but there are originals that have one and sometimes you just gotta listen to what the fabric wants.

33722060435_a15904eb98_o

Jerk. Please admire the AMAZING carpeting in my sewing room too.

In the end I was moderately happy. I need to insert a little gusset under the arm to increase movement. But it was comfy enough that I stayed in it for 12 hours without noticing the time flying by.

33785390142_b88f3abe05_o

I borrowed Jenny-Rose’s petticoat, Adrienne’s hat, Jenny-Rose’s cap, Bridget’s earrings…it was a team effort.

33902012946_3208755ff9_o

I did back lacing down the lining for adjustability, and bonus tie peeking

33557662630_c80bfa2bc4_o

It’s hard enough finding pictures I don’t look dumb in..closed eyes is bound to happen…also my petticoat came untied playing aggressive Graces

A huge thank you is due to our gracious hosts Jenny-Rose and the whole White Family. They throw a party like none other.

33557546840_793e5be6ee_o

Modeling Jenny-rose’s hat. Tell me that’s not a confection of delight.

Sometimes it takes a village

Standard

I had the privilege of attending an amazing Big Ass Hat Tea hosted by Jennylafleur week before last, and while I had a wonderful time others have done a nice write up of the event and I’ve been thinking pondery thoughts. Specifically about community.

902121_10100191427305079_1800778813_o

Widdle baby Wobbin. In a class Simplicity number, please admire the variegated snood.

In the dark ages when I started costuming (1997…wow) I met a lot, and I mean A LOT of my friends through costume journaling on LiveJournal, and most people have left that medium. Some wandered off when Facebook became the monolith it is, some left when Livejournal became a Russian company. I see more and more of the costuming community on Facebook and Instagram and while yes I have and enjoy both of those mediums I feel a deep sadness for the 13 year olds looking to get into costuming today.

Why? they have even MORE access to costumers! You don’t need to scan things to find them online these days. I feel this because with the death of dress diaries and journaling you lose the reinforcement that NOT EVERYTHING IS PERFECT. The number of my projects that have turned out the way I wanted compared to those I’ve never admitted to on this blog or elsewhere is probably 10:1 in favor of the trash pile.  Having a rich community of people sharing their process helped me feel okay making mistakes and growing.  I worry that the costumers who come after me will think it has to be a perfect instagram photo before it’s worth sharing.

 

PA010090

Can we take a moment to admire the twisted sleeves, suuuper narrow skirt and baby face? also hello super heavy polyester upholstery fabric *shudder* 

Okay Robin but you were talking about an awesome 18th century tea. What on earth does this have to do with anything? You may have noticed that I don’t have many 18th century costumes on this blog (do I have any?)..and the truth is that I don’t FEEL pretty in the 18th century. Why? I’m not good at it, and I’m surrounded by people who are freaking AMAZING at it. When sewing for the tea I had some *ahem* struggles.

32879507724_5e49428300_o

The wrinkle ended up winning I put in a dart

But here’s the thing, I felt comfortable with an amazing group of women who’ve taught me so much, and I showed up and said HELP.  You see sometimes it takes a village.

33902012946_3208755ff9_oAlice sewed my waist darts to help it fit. Katherine sewed my sleeve trim. Jenny-Rose lent me her AMAZINGLY decorated petticoat and stomacher as well as a delightfully ridiculous cap. Adrienne let me wear her hat. And in the end? Well I won’t say it made me as giddy as if it was silly 1830s, but I felt a million times better.

33099544924_6ee627f418_o

So I guess the point of this is two fold. 1. If you’re new to costuming and looking for some community the LJ group has mostly moved to Dreamwidth. I’m Robinsnest over there and please come on in. The water’s great and it’s so fun to have friends to really talk the details through with. and 2. If Instagram and FB and snapchat or whatever the cool kids are using is your jam? GREAT. But don’t hold yourself to what you think are unachievable standards. Sometimes you’re going to a party for a friend you love in an era that hasn’t clicked with you and it just takes a village.

Stay tuned next week and I promise an actual construction write up of my oufit (the 1/16th I made)

A Paletot for Ice Skating

Standard
A Paletot for Ice Skating

Amanda turned 29 this year and for birthday festivities requested “Victorian Skating.” Which gave everyone lots of room for interpretation. On the suggestion of Jennylafleur I decided to be smart (I know crazy right!?) and make the paletot that I know I need for Gettysburg this year AHEAD OF TIME…..I’ll give you a moment to recover from the shock………Good? okay onward!


In doing my virtual shopping research I discovered there’s a fairly large range of 1860s outerwear.

From the ever stylish circus tent….

bba2abc6b989f6781dba4f7e25b14966

Oversized shoes encouraged

To more svelte fitted styles..

16bc0438dbf0c5e85fe583246e5f344a

Gurl you rock that sassy fringe…brick..layer..look

Some like the image above have narrow coat sleeves but some have GIANT SLEEVES.

6a1aacd272933e17d237d62539ef32c2

What? no it’s not drafty at all…why do you ask?

Common trims involve soutache or fur.

0ebb1b747b3242c6448aff7dc1cfdea6

With hands like those you could be president

0c591f2695946d71ecf6bb23d4f02398

I killed a bear with my gaze for this fur. don’t you forget it.

And quilted trim was sure to keep you toasty

94610f42fa8b271eab3f2dfbb276332f

For that un-made bed look

I found examples of length that varied form short and cute to almost wrappers.

1e1a5e34470566a500086006b24619a3

another theme? muffs make everything better

fa21db7971e8aae2b974d3315bb5cbc1

“I’m not wearing a corset…BUT YOU’LL NEVER KNOW! MWAH HA HA. *ahem*”


So all this to say that when it comes to 1860s warmth you have a huge range of options. I only focused on coat-like-things here, but the cloak-the-size-of-Montana was also a popular look. I just have enough trouble feeling like a giant blob most days, a sleeve seemed helpful. I’m calling this a paletot because to the best of my knowledge a sleeved coat with no waist seam is a paletot and I’m not expert enough to disagree with THE Katherine C-G.

I used navy blue 100% wool flannel with an orange silk lining. The curly lamb trim was a find at a local fabric store maybe 6 years ago that I had been hoarding for such a project.

paletot01

Construction wise I used the Homespun Patterns “1860s Paletot coat pattern” on a recommendation from the ever wise Katherine. I was very very smart and didn’t notice that it came in sizes. so please imagine my face when I opened it and realized I had ordered the size 8-10-12 and I in fact needed a size 22…This is when it pays to have friends with fancy sewing degrees as Adrienne graded it up for me. I promised to have her babies.

 

paletot02

Derpy faaaaace

I did NOT follow the pattern construction instructions..they made no sense to me. I pieced the fashion fabric and the lining separately then turned under a hem and whipped the lining in.

paletot3

I love the “swoop” of the back

I chose to split the difference between tent-and super fitted. Seemed most versatile while flattering that way. and I have to say I’m HUGELY pleased. It was comfortable, easy to wear, easy to put together.

16466513_10154412781807449_1734077289_o

And REMARKABLY easy to skate in!

16492384_10154412781677449_2062979650_o

All together now “HAPPY BIRTHDAY AMANDA!!”

A Tale of Two Pineapples

Standard
A Tale of Two Pineapples

Pineapple the first

A long long time ago, in an apt far far away (okay about 10 miles) I was minding my own business and plotting things for Gettysburg in 2015 (I told you it was long ago) when Katherine found this awesome pineapple reticule.

357b67f0bf38ae491d3d4be197423a1c

The original was sold on Ruby Lane but the posting is no longer active

It’s the pineapple knobby knitting pattern that is well reproduced, BUT it’s weird. And we know I love weird. It’s navy, it has TWO beads, and well…it’s weird. We all know how I love the erm bold.

tintype-scan_zpsqt9uuhw2

I did manage to finish it in the cabin at Gettysburg, see? it’s in the tintype…and that’s the only photo I have of it that weekend. oops? Did I take ANY in progress photos? of course not, cameras weren’t invented that long ago.

newcastlechristmas20025_zpsbkbmuckg

Photo stolen from Amanda

 

I used DMC perle cotton from Joann’s and glass beads on size 00 needles. I would not recommend this combo.

  1. The beads started gold..they look clear as running down them down the thread rubbed off. Spring for good beads if you’re putting in all the effort.
  2. One little hank lasts one bobble worth. so I was changing thread and restringing beads ALL. THE. DAMN. TIME.
  3. The size 00s I had were 4″ long and it was entirely too easy to drop stitches.

That said DO use this pattern.  I found it much easier to follow than the one I used for Amanda’s pineapple…stay tuned we’ll get there…

 

 

Pineapple the second

aka can our impetuous heroine learn from her mistakes?!

b0c71c000810a343485265fb185601f5

Pineapple reticules like this one in the Koyto Institute that were actually, you know, pineapple colored were more popular. I mean how boring right?

Turns out I have friends with more *ahem* convention taste, so when Amanda asked? I offered? somehow I ended up in the bestest barter ever. Amanda Bonnet for badly knitted pineapple. I got the MUCH better end of the bargain.

30718650134_03ee7347ef_b

So this time I DID manage a few in process photos…WHO’S IMPRESSED

30721310874_18a4ff359a_o

This time I used Aunt Lydia’s crochet thread, nicer glass beads and size 0 needles. Why size 0? firstly I couldn’t find the 00s, secondly I prefer bamboo needles…however they do have oooone distinct disadvantage…

31562357905_3cf0e6cd5b_o

someone thinks they look like sticks

32077452301_b771b8f12a_o

who me? I’m an ANGEL

After a fair amount of cursing, swearing and threatening to turn her into a rug I managed to get the stitches sort of back on three needles and use a set of four as opposed to the original five. awkward but I made it work. As much as I hate the noise I think I might need to buy metal needles for tiny ones from now on. At least until my assistant isn’t so “helpful.” I’m told someday she’ll outgrow being a puppy…if we still have walls then.

Overall I was happy with the crochet thread, it looks a little bulky to me and I might consider doing a micro-tiny one someday but for my current lack-of-skill level it worked fine. I decided to try a different version of the pineapple pattern, I’m not kidding when I say they were popular you can find a few different original patterns for them. I found this version a lot harder to follow, for a beginner I’d recommend the other pattern.

I also tried putting the ties through the eyelets on the top as it annoyed me when the blue one was gathered up the leaves were all flaccid and floppy…but it gathered kind of weird so I’m not sure I liked that better.

Overall STILL things I’ll do differently for my next one (and yes I already promised one more then I’m pineappled out for a while). But I’m fairly happy with both of them as learning opportunities.

Dickensian Ken Doll

Standard
77ed64a1f39ae673ad222df08d62e407

From the MET. That pattern matching though! *twitch*

A long time ago (we’re talking years here) I was lamenting wanting to make Rob hideous plaid pants, and not being able to find fabric. Amanda happened to notice some truly loud orange and navy plaid flannel shirting at her Joann’s.  Being the benevolent friend that she is she purchased me some (do I remember how much? of course not).  And then it sat in my stash for *mumblty*years.

a9b99c785705f5318c1748823b41330b

muuuch better matching.

Spirit of Christmas and the Fezziwig ball 2017

Last year Amanda, Adrienne and I went on a recon mission to New Castle, DE’s Victorian Christmas shindig and deemed it totally worth going back. And thus an excuse for the plaid pants was born!

As previously mentioned they’re made out of a flannel cotton shirting, period? Heck no, actually findable in a garish plaid at a price-I’m-willing-to-pay-for-boy-who-doesn’t-care’s-clothes? yup. Because I was worried about the strength of the fabric I interlined them with white muslin. a68ec9e4f1a67f1d7a0571bf977ae08c

I used the same Country Wives 1800-1825 Narrow Fall Trousers pattern that I had used for his Mr. Darcy pants.

I know by the 1830s fall fronts were on their way out and fly fronts coming into style. But I found a few sources for fall fronts from the early 30s.

 

 

aae9bc860055a250510b9710512ffa96

Suit ca. 1830From National Museums Scotland

 

6b664d72a4c3affafcbece2ea1092165

1834 from the NY public library

As Rob isn’t the cutting edge of fashion, I already HAD the pattern and I happen to find fall front trousers quite sexy I decided to a few supporting references was GOOD ENOUGH(tm).

plaidpants2

Aside from the neurotic amount of time it took me to cut them out so that the plaid would match up I was quite pleased with how they went together. This pattern is light on illustrations so having made fall fronts before was definitely a leg up. The one tip I would include to remind both myself and others is that when you attach the flaps that close under the fall there is a maybe 1″ gap of slit below and that’s okay. They get caught into the fall binding. But that isn’t pointed out in the instructions and left me trying to remember if that was a cock up on my part.

ddb714aaf242e0dfe52f0bb141862057

If only I had enough fabric

Spirit of Christmas and the Fezziwig ball 2017
I covered nickles in circles of fabric rather than buying buttons cause I’m cheap. Other than that the only change I made to the pattern was a layer of heavy linen as interfacing in the waist band.

For the ball he wore them with his shoes, but he really wanted to wear them tucked into the boots during the day. Farby? yes. Is a happy husband in costume worth it to me? yes. I should add loops for the next wearing.

All in all I’m very happy with the finished look. He wore his vest and coat from the Mr. Darcy costume and a nice plaid muffler to complete the ensemble.

Spirit of Christmas and the Fezziwig ball 2017

Stay tuned tomorrow (or you know July the way I roll..) for a write up of my new ballgown