Friday, March 29, 2013

Embracing the challenge

#5 peasants and pioneers - making something for the common man/ woman :)

I really just fell in love with this little poppet that Jenni made for her daughter!

Caroline's little knitted pouch is adorable and super handy looking! Originally meant for her fires starting supplies it looks like it also fits modem items like credit cards :)

And black tulip made a very incredible corded 1870s sun bonnet! She did the whole thing by hand and it looks just perfect!

***I need to add a little caveat here - as stated previously in the week I am not on Facebook and as a result I only see a small portion of participants who are posting directly to the dreamstresses site***

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Spring SDI Victorian Ball

Was this last Saturday out in Pasadena. The event is held at a beautiful historic masonic lodge.

Always a fun event, there is a live band and the four dance sets are made up of waltzes, polkas, and quadrilles. This year we were joined by quite a few friends from the Bay Area as well as the usuals from down here :)

I was able to wear my new natural form dress, as I finished all the last minute hand sewing in time. However that being said I wouldn't have called the dress complete as most of the over skirt train and flowers were all set on with either safety pins or stitches! I was very lucky to have my friend Autumn help me with all that!! 

Even being so unfinished the whole dress held together very nicely and I felt really quite secure in it. What I really liked was the narrow skirt, it made it very easy to move through tight figures while dancing and in general move through the ballroom which can be very packed. And with the train all tucked up there was no fear of getting stepped on either. ( my head is cut out of most of these because of bad red eye I couldn't fix ;)

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

A New Picnic Dress

. . . And the reason for making that giant striped skirt for the most recent HSF challenge.

Actually the dress came about as a means to meet the requirements of the challenge and then I found out about an Impressionist Era picnic planned for the end of April. 

I am copying this fashion plate: 

Hideous isn't it?! I just love it :D outrageous wide pink and white stripes, huge bustle and frilly large pink bows! It's going to be ridiculous, girlie, and so much fun :)

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

HSF Challenge #6 - stripes

    Challenge #6: "The stripe is one of the oldest patterns, appearing in the earliest textile fragments and visual records of garments, and its never gone out of style since. Celebrate stripes with a striped garment."

I made a striped skirt for my new first bustle era picnic dress.

Fabric: a two inch pink and white strip in medium weight cotton. From the stash

Pattern: Truly Victorian pattern - 

Year: first bustle, late 1860s to mid 70s

Notions: skirt hook and eye for closure 

How accurate: the pattern is pretty accurate and they could have potentially been machine made at that point though it would have been treadle or hand crank, and the fabric is an organic material. So I'm going to go with an 8 out of 10 :)

Hours to complete: maybe two including cutting out.

First worn: not yet, it's for a picnic at the end of April!

Total cost: $0 all from the stash ( I know who in their right mind has that hideous of a giant pink strip in their fabric stash ;)

Monday, March 25, 2013

The Very Inspiring Blogger Award

I have very recently been awarded the lovely "Very Inspiring Blogger" Award from my friend Lauren over at American Duchess.
It was a very kind thing for her to do and I am very thankful for the recognition! This is my first ever blog award!!!

To accept the award, one must:
1. Display the award and link back to the person who nominated you.
2. State 7 facts about yourself.
3. Nominate 15 bloggers for the award.
4. Notify the winners.

Seven facts about myself:
1. I have pet rats, yes they make me feel like Cinderella when I sew :)
2. When I get old I want to be a crazy cat lady 
3. I could live on pickles and olives alone
4. I love the outdoors: camping, hiking, etc
5. I have a 6ft long tattoo, no I'm only 5'5"
6. I love to read trashy historical romance novels
7. And I'm not on Facebook, and I can't see that ever changing 

And last but not least 15 blogs that I compulsively follow, ahem, I mean I simply love:

1. The Dreamstress: because her Historical Sew Fortnightly challenge keeps me going strong from one project to the next.

2. Kitty Calash: great perspective on 18th century reenacting.

3. Mira at Mouse Borg Designs: the most intrepid and extraordinary young seamstress and artist I know.

4. Ginger from Scene in the past: great vintage and more.

5.Isabella at All the Pretty Dresses: is a great resource for extant gowns.

6. Lauren at Wearing History: always makes the most remarkable things!

7. Jen from Festive Attire: creator of the curtain along project, and other great work.

8. Beth at V is for Vintage: this girl has vintage down and her blog is all about the look and the dancing!

9. Two Nerdy History Girls: they cover my guilty pleasure and my costume hobby.check out the sunday breakfast links.

10. Solanah at Vixen Vintage: her blog is beautiful and not just for her great look but her photographs are like art.

11. Hallie of At the Sign of the Golden Scissors: great tips and tutorials, she even has patterns now.

12. Vintage Visions: is a great blog full of reference and historical notes.

13. Jennifer at Historical Sewing: more then just a blog she is fountain of knowledge and a life raft in a sea of obscure historical sewing.

14. Caroline at Dressed in Time: always has the neatest projects.

15. The Aristocrat: amazing, nuff said.

And off I go to pass off the nominations and continue the journey of this award :)

Friday, March 22, 2013

Ball gown embellishment

As per the fashion plate I am copying, the back of the skirt is draped in pink flowers. Though I didn't use as many as the fashion plate shows, I tried to capture the same general feel.

I chose roses and just used regular silk flowers from Michaels. They were a little bulkier and ball like then I would have liked, but they were the right color and size I had in mind, so I just made it work.

It took some heavy duty wire clippers and a lot of safety wire though and I have the scratches on my hands to prove that I was using actual heavy duty tools ;) Despite that I am really pretty happy with how it came out.

I think I will put a few of the smaller buds on the bodice and at least one in my hair to tie it all in.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Ball gown bodice part 2

After the mock up the bodice went together smoothly :)

I lined in cotton and placed my mock up ,done in cotton coutil, in the middle for a little extra stability as my fashion fabric is pretty thin and flimsy. 

I set bones into all the side seams by sewing down my seam allowance to make a channel.

I didn't add bones to the darts or center front: a) because the front maintains its shape really well already and b) I'm lazy! ;)

I back closure will be eyelets for lacing closed, I will do those on the machine when I get home tomorrow though much faster then trying hand sew them all.

Even though you can't really tell in the fashion plate, I added little cap sleeves. And the decoration is actually a separate yoke the I made and then will tack that on to the bodice. It was easier to work with all those gathers that way then trying to get them directly on tote bodice. The white band is to tie it in with the overskirt and to help contain some of the puffiness, I got a little carried away there ;) 

Still quite a bit of finishing to go but I'm not too worried about getting it all done in time for Saturday evening, all the really big structural stuff is done now.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Ball gown bodice part 1

I'm not very good at making mock ups for new projects, it's one thing I get lazy on. I'm more of a sew by the seat of my pants, work it out as I go sewer rather then a careful, planner, make multiple mock ups for the new bodice kind of sewer :)

But for the bodice in this ball gown, I was a good girl and not only made one mock up but two!

Because I was making this without a real pattern I adapted one of my other ball gown bodices into this style by changing the darts and lengthening all the panels. As a result of all the drafting  and guessing the first version was good but in the end not quite right, so back to the drawing board so to speak to make it flat across the bottom and much longer.

Round two came out very well and much more what i had in mind based on copying the fashion plate.

Once I had this mock up then I did just a little adjusting here and there for fit.

And then as with all mock ups I ripped the whole thing apart to use it as my pattern to cut out the blue material and lining :)

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Ball gown skirt progress

Oddly enough I found the skirts the most challenging. Well the underskirt went together easily enough, and the pleated trim went on just fine mind you it took awhile because I was hand pleating.

But it was the over skirt that really got me stuck, I went through 3 versions before I was finally happy. 

The problem is that my white material is very heavy and didn't want to drape gently but rather plummet aggressively toward the floor pulling very gentle fold out and causing the whole piece to get caught up in my feet when walking.

So the second iteration was to set the panel in wide pleats. While this prevented the previous problem I hated the look.

So I want back to the original idea and rather then just gather the outside edges I added an additional gather line to the dead center. This helped hold the gentle folds in place and gave the look I had in my head. I just added the little smooth strip down the front to hide the stitches.

I got the idea while looking at fashion plates and noticed that many of the very long gathered overskirts had a center line like I had created probably for the same purpose :)  

Monday, March 18, 2013

This Years Big Victorian Ball Gown

The spring SDI ball is this coming weekend, and as it is kinda a special occasion in my world, I like to go all out with my dress for it. Last year was the cupcake dress

This year I was initially thinking a ball gown to go with the dress I wore to the light house picnic at the end of the summer

Here were some of my ideas:

But then I found myself getting caught up in the natural form era:

It's really kind of an awkward era with the constrictig narrow skirts with the haphazard decoration but the exaggerated long bodices and the long sweeping trains really got stuck in my head :)
So instead I am making a natural form ball gown and using the same fabrics as the light house dress. My guide an inspiration is the blue dress in the fashion plate below:

Friday, March 15, 2013

Embracing the challenge

Challenge #4 was all about the decoration and while I stayed small and simple others went big and the results were wonderful all the way around.

My favorite was the fringed regency dress done by Ginger from scene in the past.
The fringe is a great simple way to embellish regency that I hadn't thought of and I love the pattern of her dress most especially the pleated bodice front.

I was most impressed with the stunning beading work of black tulip! And not just the beading but also painting on a design and them beading it.
Her work has great detail with a clean look of professionalism and I cant wait to see the finished project :)

And last but not least I have to give a huge shout out to the stunning work done by Marion over at Green Martha, her embellished chemise puts my own far to shame :)
I love the tucking and lace insertion, it just has such an authentic feel. And it sounds like it was all done with out pattern and mostly hand stitched, most impressive! And then add in all the research she put into it that is so very thorough and most informative!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

HSF Challenge # 5

Challenge #5: "As wonderful as making pretty, pretty princess dresses is, the vast majority of people have always been poor commoners, whether they were peasants working the land, servants in big houses, or (later), pioneers carving their own space in new lands. This fortnight let's make something that celebrates the common man."
For this challenge I chose to make an 18th century mob cap because regardless of class every 18th century girl needs one :)
Fabric: very fine cream linen, from the stash.

Pattern: no pattern, I just made it up as I went based on pictures and extant pieces. This was actually not a good thing as I really don't like the look of my cap, and I think a real pattern would help me like the cap better. Next time I make a cap I want to try the JP Ryan pattern

Year: 18th century

Notion: just thread.

Historical Accuracy: I'm going to go wild and give this a 9 out of 10 and that's because of the fact that I completely hand sewed the whole cap and the materials are accurate for the period. So even though I don't like the look of the cap, the materials and construction are accurate for the period.
Hours to complete: 6 from cutting out to the last little stitch.

First worn: not yet, might not ever get worn if I really hate it enough and end up making a better one with a real pattern ;)

Total cost: $0, all from the stash!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

18th Century Mob Caps

Because every 18th century girl needs a good mob cap, and I needed a little inspiration for making mine :

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Tutorial - Hair Rats

How to make easy cheap hair rats, from not real hair.

I a lot of hair styles in most eras from Georgian through vintage require volume in some way and while teasing can get you only so far, hair rats are very versatile and always period. But not many of us have hair to spare or the time to gather it all up and contain it. 

So here is my cheating version of hair rats:
Start with one of those round chignon forms you can find at just about any beauty supply shop, they are usually only a couple of dollars each. You'll also need a packet of hair nets, needle and thread and a utility scissor.

Start by cutting open the form

Then cut a section off the end, this depends on the size you want. For something little like the size of my ear I cut off just over an inch, for something big like my fist I use about half.

Take that little cut off section and in roll it gently then pile it back up into a ball shape.

Now use one of the hair nets to wrap up the piece and contain it. I usually wrap my hair net in half then in half again, then wrap it around the piece.

I add a few long stitches to kind of contain the whole thing but I don't think it's necessary, the whole thing really wants to stick together all on its own.

TaDa, enjoy :)