Author Archives: sewloud

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.

 

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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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Orange Pet en l’aire

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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.

 

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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?!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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

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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.

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

Sometimes it takes a village

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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.

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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.

 

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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.

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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.

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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

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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….

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Oversized shoes encouraged

To more svelte fitted styles..

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

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

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

Common trims involve soutache or fur.

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With hands like those you could be president

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

And quilted trim was sure to keep you toasty

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For that un-made bed look

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

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another theme? muffs make everything better

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“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.

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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.

 

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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.

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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.

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And REMARKABLY easy to skate in!

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All together now “HAPPY BIRTHDAY AMANDA!!”