Tag Archives: Sewing

The Scarlet Pimpernel

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The Scarlet Pimpernel
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They seek him here, they seek him there, Those Frenchies seek him everywhere

Wherein my husband is a very “good sport”

Or at least that’s what my mother persists in telling me constantly.  Jenny-Rose and her family (they’re all just as amazing and talented but I don’t think they have blogs…) decided to host a very swanky 18th century dinner party called The Pimpernel Dinner, and one cannot have a Pimpernel Dinner without well a Pimpernel. So who’s got a husband with great acting chops and will wear whatever he’s handed? *looks around the room*…*crickets*…shit I’m making menswear again aren’t I?

Now I’m really not a fan of menswear making for a few reasons.

  1. I don’t get to swan around in the results and look pretty.
  2. Men are strangely shaped with bits in places. BITS I SAY.
  3. Pants.

The Inspiration:

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And that sassy pose

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They seem to have suffered microcephaly a lot though.

One of the things I like about this period in menswear is how patently ridiculous it gets. You do see some matched three piece suits, but more often then not it’s a free for all. My friend Ginger nicely picked up some silks in the L.A. Garment district for his jacket and breeches and I found some fabric for the waistcoat online. What I didn’t have a lot of was time (we’ll leave out the part about the party being announced like a year in advance or that I committed to two major events two weeks apart and that was probably maybe my fault…I said we won’t discuss it).


Breeches:

I was trying to keep the budget for this monstrosity to within semi-reasonable levels. I splurged on the silk so one of the ways I save money was to re-use a pattern I had for breeches that was just slightly off period. a68ec9e4f1a67f1d7a0571bf977ae08c

Technically this pattern by Country Wives is for 1800-1825 but the narrow fall is close enough and I was working with what I had.

I shortened the legs, then tried him on the victim husband and took in the legs till we reached foppish-vacuum-sealed and added knee bands. My knee bands gaped just a tiny bit…so bows.

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Waistcoat:

I used the pattern I draped for his Mr. Darcy waistcoat and added to the length and front width. Re-drafted the collar. It’s really a beautifully embroidered waistcoat…too bad you can’t see it worth a damn. I should have just skipped it.

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after party shenanigans


Coat:

For the coat I did spring for a real pattern and bought Laughing Moon 124. A word to younger costumers, when you’re choosing where to invest and where to cut corners. Sometimes if you don’t have the right sleeve pattern it’s worth the money to pay someone else.

Lets take a moment to appreciate the absurdity of the collar. I meant to cut it down to be more proportionate to Rob’s average height, but 11pm Robin forgot. So absurdity it is! For next wearing I would like to properly finish it with all the called for buttons, shorten it about 2″ and shorten the sleeves an inch. But considering I did zero mock ups and just made it…I got away with highway robbery in terms of fit.

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how DARE YOU MADAM! With Modern Mantua Maker.

His stockings were borrowed from my closet, Amanda gave them to me for Christmas a few years ago so I can’t be sure, but knowing her shopping habits they’re from sockdreams. (regardless of these stockings another highly recommended shop). And the absurd pointy shoes were from target the night before. Yeah the costume gods smiled on me on that one.

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There was stiff battle required to save the champagne!

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With two of our three beautiful hosts

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I happily re-wore my copper open robe and feel beautiful

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Did I mention the location was stunning?

Wow you’re still reading? Colour me impressed. Thank you to Ginger for getting fabric in LA, thanks to Jenny-Rose for styling his delightful hair and thanks to my husband for always being a good sport.

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1882 Lemonade Dress

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1882 Lemonade Dress
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Aren’t you hot in that?!

This past weekend was our annual outing to Belvidere Victorian Days in Belvidere, NJ. Every year this event is in early September and I start thinking fall thoughts. I’d say half the times I’ve gone it was actually autumnal and half it’s been summertime heat…This year was sadly the later with temps in the high 90s.

Our friend the Earl of Westwood was setting up his camp from 1882 Egypt and I simply had to have a natural form dress to match. I love a good theme. (we’ll pretend the classic car collection and large array of pop-up vendor tents are a different theme).

 

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1880s afternoon dress in the FIT collection

I found this dress that I deemed PERFECT. It was autumnal it was cool and light, it was sophisticated and I wanted it. So I headed over to my favorite voile pusher on etsy and ordered 12 yards (which wasn’t nearly enough) of their finest “off white” voile. I named it “The Coffee Victorian” and eagerly awaited it’s arrival.

Like a kid on Christmas morning I eagerly dug into my package of fabric…it was yellow. Not like warm beige, or ecru, or dark tan..no it was YELLOW.  I put it in the naughty pile for a week.

I tried bleaching a sample. It became a slightly lighter yellow…it sat in the naughty pile…finally time was running out, and I decided: when life gives you lemon fabric, make a lemonade dress.

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You can hardly tell it’s 150 degrees Celsius can you?

Having spent so long pouting I kind of ran out of time to do all the finishing touches I wanted, and sewed the trim on the front at 11pm the night before. There is a lot I’d like to revisit about this dress before it’s next wearing, but surprisingly I like it enough that it will definitely have a second wearing.

 

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I’m not shopping…nope

The skirt is actually Truly Victorian TV208, I just added more fullness in back and ties behind the knees. I’ve used this pattern now three times for victorian skirts and I just adore the sweep of the train.

The bodice is TV 420 with some mods. The original had a high neck and a fake v-neck out of trim. But I have a plate in Harper Bazaar from 1883 with a deep V and it was 100 degrees.  For the same reason I did 3/4 sleeves.

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pay no attention to the fact I’m wrapped in my train

Amanda made my adorable bonnet for herself and promptly decided she hated it…so I giddily made off with it. I think it was a Lynn McMaster’s pattern? But not having made it I’m allowed to not really know.

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Posing for our tintype

We had such an amazing time hanging out after the public left when the lit the lanterns and we relaxed listening to good conversation, live music and I laughed till my sides hurt.

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Serenaded by the Earl himself

 

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Amanda looking dashing

 

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I’m not sure what I like more, the backwards flag or the spyglass “accidentally” aimed at Alice’s bustline

venturing into the 1860s

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venturing into the 1860s

Have you ever wondered what a 208″ petticoat looks like? Step right this way and let me show you!

Giant Petticoat of Doooooom

Giant Petticoat of Doooooom

My friends Alice and Amanda have agreed to venture into the 1860s with me. I love a good hoop but up until now no one was willing to run around in hoops with me! So I pretty much have to start from the inside out.

I bought the hoop off of ebay ages ago for renaissance things, I had always intended to shrink the top hoop to make it more farthingale shaped, but I never got around to it! Yay for laziness saving the day! I will wear my standard victorian corset as it’s actually pretty short and more suited for early Victorian than the later stuff I usually wear it for.

Now why on earth would anyone WANT a 208″ petticoat you say? Good question. Again, laziness. I got a great deal on some 104″ white quilting cotton at Joann‘s. It was supposed to be 108″ and when the company figured it out they had us put it in clearance, plus clearance was half off..and then we realized it had stains on it..so I got it for 75% off of that. The whole petticoat cost under $5. Now one 104″ panel wasn’t enough, and I really didn’t want to deal with half panels…so 208″ it was!

I didn’t use a pattern just ripped it into rectangles that were the right length. For me it worked out to 32″ to the top of the ruffle, then the ruffle is three widths 12″ deep. I rolled hemmed them with my serger. Then I used my serger’s magical ruffling foot to attach the ruffle while it gathered it on.

In the end I couldn’t gather it all the way down to my 34″ waist measurment so it overlaps by 2″ in the back…I gathered instead of pleating. If I did stacked pleats I could probably fit it more tightly.

Onto the skirt!

Onto the skirt!

The skirt isn’t nearly as full. Again, no pattern required. I used the 45″ width of the fabric as my skirt length. Ripped a panel 150″ long and sewed the back seam, gathered the top and added a waistband. Ta da!

my fabric

my fabric

Again I found this sheer cotton in the Joann’s clearance section. It was $1.50 a yard. (Hey being a Joann’s employee has it’s perks!)

Some regency stays

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Some regency stays

I have not one but TWO pairs of regency stays to share with you. The first pair I made for Madame Kat’s Pride and Prejudice Tea last month.

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Please don’t mind Polly’s Falsies. She just doesn’t lift the way I do.

 I used the 1804 stays from Jean Hunnisett’s Period costumes for the stage and screen with only a few minor tweaks. Things I’ve learned:

  • Paint stir sticks are a weeeee bit too short as busks. But it’s still working for now
  • Cording under the bust makes a HUGE difference
  • The hip gores in the pattern are for someone who has more of a curvy shape than I, but I’m not redoing them :-p
  • You don’t need all the bones the pattern calls for, I only put three on each side.
  • If you use thin quilting cotton on the outside you will see your busk and your hemp cording through it, oops.
close-up of gores and cording

close-up of gores and cording

 

The second pair of stays I have to share with you today were a pair I made for Judy of Learning to Costume. They are finished more nicely than mine because I’m kind of neurotic when sewing for other people. Her’s are made with a layer of cotton duck and a muslin lining. Machine sewn with hand finishing. I started with Simplicity 4052 and added a few things. I put in a diagonal bone on the sides to help lift the bust, as well as my new favorite thing, cording under the bust. Jennylafleur has great instructions on how to insert the cording on her website.

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She’s so much smaller she doesn’t fit my dress form. So extra thanks for her modeling them for me!

The Great Bachelorette Party

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The Great Bachelorette Party

As I’ve mentioned before my dear friend J is getting married NEXT WEEK! So what are a bunch of costume girl’s going to do for a proper bachelorette party? Why dress up in 1920s gowns and go see the new film version of the Great Gatsby!

The beautiful woman of the hour!

The beautiful woman of the hour!

I used Past Patterns 2757 because I liked the wrap dress shape. I’m an apple figure and I was hoping it would help soften the blow of the bag shape (that and the über spanx I was wearing). The fabric I picked up out of the Joann’s clearance bin and was juuuust a bit short on so it ended up being sleeveless. I swear it was lack of fabric and NOT a dislike of sleeves, that was just a bonus!

I have four pairs of spanx on

I have four pairs of spanx on

Now this dress has ZERO instructions so it’s a tiny bit of a puzzle when you’re putting it together and I had to make a few executive decisions finishing wise. I roll hemmed with my serger around the bottom hem and the ties, but for the neckline I turned the edge back onto the right side and sewed ribbon down over it. This both gave me a little decoration and a bit of stability.

I was going for "serious movie star" and ended up with "slightly constipated"

I was going for “serious movie star” and ended up with “slightly constipated”

Overall I was pretty pleased with it, especially as I only had a week to make it. I accessorized with Rob’s great-Aunt’s mike stole and some fun orange gloves.

why yes I AM having a shirley temple in a champagne flute

why yes I AM having a shirley temple in a champagne flute

Judy of Learning to  Costume looking smokin'

Judy of Learning to Costume looking smokin’

I watched a bunch of youtube tutorials as I was avoiding my finals and thought I would give some absurd flapper make-up a go. I have to say it was pretty funny to wear as I’m generally a no frills kinda-girl.

check out those eyebrows

check out those eyebrows

Having fun with Madame Kat and some Noir editing

Having fun with Madame Kat and some Noir editing

 

All photos shamelessly stolen from Madame Kat as mine turned out horrible and her’s great. I bow to her awesome.

A dress for Tea

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A dress for Tea

On Saturday Madame Kat from madamemodiste hosted one of her famous parties (Kat is the originator of the Francaise dinner party, a killer annual Victorian party, the original moon landing and many other exploits).

I decided that I simply required a new dress and that it was the perfect time to try my hand at making a bib front style regency. I started with Simplicity 4055 that I’ve used in the past and started making mock-ups. In the end I made three of the bodice. I changed the shame more to coincide with shape of the bib front gown in Patterns of Fashion

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They told me to strike a dramatic pose, America’s Next Top Model WATCH OUT

 

I used white cotton muslin as it was affordable and easy for my first bib front, if it didn’t turn out I was only out a few bucks. And in the end I DID go through two skirts so it was a GOOD thing I didn’t mind burning through some fabric. (and I turned the bad skirt into my petticoat)

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a boring front view

 

My bonnet, No mine! I saw it first!

My bonnet, No mine! I saw it first!

Some of the other beautifully dressed guests

Some of the other beautifully dressed guests

Julia from The Bohemian Belle was there selling her gorgeous wares

Julia from The Bohemian Belle was there selling her gorgeous wares

Taylor from Dames a la Mode satisfied all our ribbon cravings (and cravings we didn't know we had)

Taylor from Dames a la Mode satisfied all our ribbon cravings (and cravings we didn’t know we had)

 

A group photo courtesy of Gloria from In the Long Run

A group photo courtesy of Gloria from In the Long Run