Friday, March 30, 2012

Details of the Teens era walking suit

This was the suit I wore to the tea dance just a few weekends ago. 

As I had mentioned this was my Christmas present this last year from Michael. Amazingly the suit fit with out any alterations! And it looks as if it was never worn, it has no discoloration or wear, and the silk lining is still very sturdy. 

The lining is the most astonishing part as it is a collage of vibrant colors! 

The jacket is decorated with multiple rows of small matching fabric covered buttons and embroidered arrows. 

The front has double pockets on both sides and all seams and edges and finished with a small piping. 

And my personal little joy is the tag. I just have a thing for vintage tags, they are all so unique and an expression of the company or person that produced or sold the item :)

Hope you have a great weekend

Thursday, March 29, 2012

The Next Project

So the next big project in the line up is my outfits ( yes that was plural) for the Anza Napoleonic war reenactment which takes place the first weekend of May. 
Michael has already acquired a nicely done reproduction British uniform, and is successfully tracking down the remaining elements of the ensemble. 

I am planning on making: undergarments (short stays, rather then long), a day dress with removable long sleevses, an evening gown, a spener jacket with removable skirt, and a poke bonnet. 

The undergarments are already in process with notes to follow soon. The day dress will be made out of a white handkerchief weight cotton that has a small floral print on it.

 I want to do removable long sleeves because I don't know what to expect out of the weather and don't want to freeze the whole time, or be too hot depending. And it was a period thing to do :)

The evening gown will be out of the embroidered silk chiffon I purchased on my last District trip. 
I think I will do the cross over style of gown as it is easy to get in and out of by myself and will have a more smoothly draped front to better display the embroidery.  The chiffon will be draped over a plain cotton under dress. And I'm thinking a turban for a headdress but I haven't committed myself to that idea yet because I haven't looked into how hard it is to make a Regency turban yet. Though I feel that I a Regency turban might be easier to do then actually making my hair look period and pretty while camping ;)


The spenser jacket will be out of a chocolate brown wool, again another District purchase. I don't know if it was period or not but I want to make the spenser jacket with a detachable floor length skirt. That way I can have the period jacket look and yet also have a long jacket for warmth if needed . . . Noticing a theme here aren't you? Well the event is in the desert in the middle of spring and the weather can be screwy that time of year. Either too hot or too cold or both. So I am planning to dress accordingly 


I'm not sure where to start on the poke bonnet but I have seen and saved a few hopeful looking tutorials on easily creating one out of a modern straw hat and such. This and the turban are going to be where I will need to do the most research. And shoes of course, which I have not put any thought into, though Lauren of American Duchess just did a great post on dyeing and decorating her regency shoe "The Pemberley". That led to some interesting ideas ping ponging through the brain . . .  


Everything else I feel pretty confident with . . . as long as I'm not rushing to finish, that is ;)



Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Regency - some inspiration

The next project will be regency so to get myself in that line of thought I dug through all my regency fashion plates, photos, paintings and drawings and pulled out what really . . . "spoke to me" ;) 

I'm not sure where I snagged most of these pictures from.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Some more new vintage items

As afore mentioned, the SDI ball was on Saturday. As I have not yet fully recovered from the event nor collected adequate pictures to share it with you, I shall share instead the vintage purchase that arrived last week.

The parasol handle is finally here, it is a lovely and delicate piece, about 8 inches long with a carved floral motif. It is the perfect diameter for my parasol. Michael is going to work on attaching it for me this week as he is far better at that sort of work then I. It is clearly made of bone, of which the seller noted, but it has a obvious great age and so it is likely that it could be old ivory but I do not know how to tell the difference between ivory and bone. Not that it matters to me though, just an observation on my part. (sorry the photos are so yellow, I was working in bad lighting)

Next was this lovely little chiffon embroidered scarf. It's very delicate and sweet and for a $1 it was too pretty to pass up :)

Finally, the piece de resistance, an eBay UK find. When this item first went up I was so sure it would shoot right out of my price range in no time. But it didn't and I was able to snag it for a very good price :)

Dingy damage looking little purse you say? How can she be excited about that?

Except, inside it is in great condition! It's a lady's traveling vanity case complete with matching perfume bottles, a mirror, pockets to hold other vanity items and on the back side of the bottle is set up to hold a manicure set.

The bottles don't appear to have been used or if they were they we're cleaned out really well. Both bottle tops in crew and inside and has the little glass applicator wand!

This is just the kind of fun gorgeous detail I like to collect. It will look great sitting open on the vanity table of our room this year for the Art Deco Festival on The Queen Mary.

That's all for now, I have curtailed my vintage purchasing for a while to focus on upcoming events. But who knows if something amazing comes around, I just might have to snag it!! :)

Friday, March 23, 2012

The Lanterman Ragtime Tea Dance

Two weekends ago was the Lanterman Ragtime Tea DanceThe lanterman house is absolutely beautiful, just chalk full of an eclectic mix of furnishings from the turn of the century and later. And it was staffed with knowledgable docents for the event that provided great insight into the history of the lanterman family and the house it's self. Great effort has gone into restoring the original murals on many of the walls, which are so lovely to look at as well as taking the house back to its original state. 
This was my first teens era dance, and I found the style of dancing to be fun and easy. The dance class was taught by Walter Nelson, he was full of little tips to make the simple one and two step style seem intricate and lively. Even going so far as to show us how to fake a tango :)
Which Michael and I did to much success and copious amounts of giggling and laughter on my part! It was just so much fun! This event was the most dancing I have done with Michael and it was so great, I am really looking forward to doing more and varied dancing with him soon.

Our friends Chris and Beth, vforvintageblogand Matt and Lauren wearing history ,attended the event too. We shared some dancing, tea and lots of pictures :) 
Beth looked just super cute in her sailor inspired outfit and Lauren had on a great outfit too. I just loved Lauren's hat, such a great shape for the era with out being too huge. I wore my new teens walking suit, its an original from the era and has the best little details ( coming in a future post). The suit was my Christmas present from Michael this year and I just love it. 
I was able to find an original blouse from the era to wear with it too. The hat I made out of a modern felt cloche, it was a fun project :)
The gentleman looked so handsome as always! I just loved that Michael chose to wear the bright red tie and the original Victorian striped shirt. Chris looked very dapper with his straw boater and Matt had the original advertisement for his suit! So cool!

All in all this event was just so much fun! The dancing, atmosphere and company were all great :) 

Caitlin Amiton

Yeah for Fridays!

Pretty flowers for you :) 

To celebrate that it's finally Friday! Yeah for the weekend, I hope you have as fun this weekend as I am planning on!

(these little beauties are just two of the dozen pink flowers that will be decorating The Cupcake this Saturday)

Caitlin Amiton

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Cupcake Update

So over the weekend I was able to finish both the skirt with its ruffled and ruched trim and the overskirt with its bustling and lace edging. Now did I take pictures of the wonder that was hours of pinning and futzing and hand sewing? Of course not ;) so those will come later as the majority of the dress stayed up north for the weekend ( FYI, really hard to transport a period gown with all it under pinnings and accessories in a single garment bag on the train :)

I did also get the bodice constructed and brought it home to finish trimming it and put in the eyelets up the back. This is a look at it constructed and starting to get trimmed.

The sleeves are from an Ageless Pattern, of which the dress was mediocre on me but I loved the well formed poof the sleeves made. So out went the rest of the pattern and the sleeves live on, incorporated into other patterns :) The bodice is a Truly Victorian pattern that I had previously had fitted and that I modified in front from having a deep point to a very subtle front curve. I chose a subtle curve over a perfectly straight line, as it would be more flattering to my very short waisted body, yet still maintain the same look.
An easy distinction between the two bustle eras was the propensity for bodices that were straight along the bottom for the first bustle era and pointed for the second. Here are a few examples of fashion plates I used as reference for this.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Some new vintage things

As promised in a previous post here are pictures of some of my more recent eBay vintage finds :)

This is a pair of 40s shoes I found on eBay UK, the only hard thing about the UK is the different shoe sizes. Over there I am a size 5 but here I am a size 7, something you have to pay close attention to.

These are a cute pair of reproductions 40s sunglasses, they were super cheap and make for a great detail.

The purse they are pictured with is 40s, and the first purse from the era I really liked. It came from a vintage sale the other weekend hosted by the Art Deco Society of LA. I also picked up this little hat which I think will be great for a fourth of july event. 

I snagged this dainty little walking parasol at a super cheap price. When it arrived the canopy was filthy but intact, so I took it off and washed it, it came out nearly white again just a few lines of discoloration. The next step is to replace the handle, which should happen soon as the replacement is in the mail :) it should be a great detail for edwardian and Victorian picnics this summer

This shawl was a wonderful find, Victorian and huge in size it is like the paisley shawls that are so popular and also so expensive, only it wasn't expensive at all. I love the grey and subtle pattern and the wool is very heavy so it has plenty of warmth and great drape. I might even use it for the upcoming regency event.

This last hat was my anniversary gift from Michael this year, it had great movement and striking feathers. I am planning to use it for the April titanic tar as well as possibly a 30s event as it is a perfect match for my big camel cashmere coat.

Upcoming items: the new parasol handle, a 20s scarf, and vintage travel perfume case.

And another update on the cupcake dress, just 5 days till the event now!

Friday, March 16, 2012

That "period shape"

There has been quite a bit of chatter lately on the interwebs about getting that "period shape" when recreating a historical costume. And much of the discussion agrees that the key is the foundation. If one has the correct assortment of undergarment for the period then the resulting ensemble will have a historically accurate look.

One of my biggest pet peeves in historical reenacting is being able to see the bones of ones hoop skirt through the over dress. Which was the specific topic of a post by Jennifer at Historical Sewing this week. She discussed three methods to avoid what she dubs as the " lampshade" affect. 

What I loved most about her post and what I want to share with you was her third tip: just layer on more petticoats! 

It was a tip I took away with me from her costume college class last year, and used heavily when creating my wardrobe for the San Francisco Dickens Faire. Aside from the corset, chemise and drawers and hoop skirt I already had, I made this pictured ruffled petticoat and an eyelet lace petticoat to go over it to smooth out the edges of the ruffles.

The resulting shape was a lovely full bell.

For next year I want to go just a little bit further  . . . Okay maybe a lot further ;) . . . and make a corded petticoat (of which Jennifer also has a great tutorial on) and a quilted petticoat so that I can do an 1840s dress in which they wore only petticoats to achieve the smaller bell shape. 

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Cupcake

I thought I would take a moment to share with you the progress I am making on "The Cupcake" dress since A. that is all I have on my mind right now because I have to finish it for an event in just two short weeks and B. all the new goodies I have been buying up from Ebay are at Michaels and therefore cannot be photographed to share with you till this weekend when I am up there again.

 I shall first explain that "The Cupcake" is/ will be an 1870's ball gown for the upcoming spring SDI Ball. The idea for a frothy pink dress came at the inspiration of some blush colored satin donated to my fabric habit by my friend Stella, that was left over from her wedding. The color was just so lovely and sweet, and I thought pink would be just the thing for a spring ball. I chose the 1870s because I just adore the first bustle era. And I find it to be the least duplicated when it comes to Victorian events. I chose to copy a fashion plate as I so often do. I call it "The Cupcake" with utter disdain in my voice because it is really turning into a sweet, frilly, monstrosity that is really not in line with what I usually like to make . . . all the more fun I think 


This fashion plate I found in the archives of The Bartos Collection. (I find her massive collection of fashion plates to be an invaluable resource). What was so appealing about it was that the majority of the dress is actually white and the pink is the secondary color and would not really sit against my skin, as pink is not really a color I look terribly great in but I can pull it off in combination with other colors. The other really appealing thing about the dress was that it had such a huge bustle with oodles of frilly lace and flowers, the dress just screams early bustle :)

I have been attacking the dress one element at a time and incorporating pattern or pattern pieces where I can. The skirt is a Truly Victorian pattern, I will just trim it with ruffle and gathering to match the fashion plate.


The over skirt I am having to drape myself without aide of a pattern. This is a look at my initial attempt, I'm pretty satisfied with it, just I little fine tuning I think.


More to come soon . . .  :)

Saturday, March 10, 2012

LA Garment district

Last Friday I took the opportunity to join some friends in the garment district for some much needed fabric shopping.

And shop we did! It was a total blast, everyone left happy and a little poorer. I know I did for sure :) 

I am a notorious and compulsive planner so I always prepare for a trip to The District well in advance. I like to have a specific list of fabrics defined by type and era with yardages. I find it helps keep me on track. If its not on the list I can't get it . . . Well unless it's really fabulous ;) 

Here's a peek at what I snagged, all of which you will see in upcoming projects.

This was the find of the day, an embroidered silk chiffon. It just spoke to me :)

This was not on the list but too pretty to pass up, I love that it's reversible.

Ahhhh so much fabric and so little time. 

Friday, March 2, 2012

The Red Cross Uniform

So as promised here is my account of the Red Cross uniform I put together for The LA air raids at Fort McArthur. 

I have always loved uniforms especially the nurses uniforms of WW I, though they are much harder to find then items from WW II. And WW II events are far more frequent :) 

The dress was an eBay find, And I think the only reason I got such a good price was that it was marked only as a nurses uniform not Red Cross and that it was not the typical style you see for WWII, which usually has a button front and small collar. The dress fits like a dream and is in really good shape considering its age. It even has its original self belt which snaps closed. The opening on the dress is in the side seam, which is very 1930s and the front has two square flat pockets. The wrist length sleeves have big buttons at about mid forearm where the cuffs would button on. Though the dress did no come with its original cuffs I was able to make a pair of reproductions by looking at images of extant pieces.

The really stunning thing about the dress was its silk head scarf it came with. It is a blue silk square scarf with one corner turned back a little with a white organza wired crown hand sewn in place with an elastic string going around to keep it on the head. The organza was very yellowed with age and dirt but I gave it and the dress a nice good soak in some warm woolite to get them clean. The dress came clean beautifully the scarf cleaned up some but is till very yellow with age. I haven't worn it out to an even yet because I worry about how fragile it seems. 

All the advertisements for joining the Red Cross during WWII showed the women wearing medium length blue wool capes with a red lining. These are very easy to find on eBay or other vintage sites as hospitals used them for their nurses as far up as the 1960s it seems.

The wool cape is in lovely condition and even has a little watch pocket on one inside edge. I found one for a reasonable price and it came with the white nurses cap that I wore to the event. The cap snaps together in the back with a little vintage label. It has some staining, though nothing terribly noticeable, the best part is that now that I have it I feel pretty confident I can use it as a pattern to duplicate it :)

The shoes were a find of pure chance! I was cruising eBay looking for a red cross volunteers pin for the front of my dress when I came across a shoe listing with one of those ridiculous titles of every possible key word: " vintage WWII retro shoes red cross glam fab" and I thought their just making a crazy claim so that they get more hits but I looked any ways and sure enough on the inside of the shoe they clearly state that they are Red Cross issue!!! I had to have them :)  

At the same time that I was putting this outfit together Michael found for me an old Life magazine from July 1940 that had as the cover shot a young girl wearing exactly my uniform, head scarf and all. He got it for me and aside from all the wonderful vintage advertising to ogle through it has a great 4 page spread on the Red Cross organization here in America and what they were doing before we had entered the war to help out efforts in Europe. 

I just love these last two, especially the old sewing machines :)

I am so happy to have a complete uniform now! And I love all the history behind it and what it represented in our countries past. 

Caitlin Amiton