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Saturday, 26 December 2015

A Christmas Spencer

All I want for Christmas is a Spencer.  Wait, that's not right...

I finally finished my Spencer!  I'm so happy with the way it turned out.  I spent many hours hand sewing the trim, but it was worth it.

It doesn't look like much from the front, especially on a mannequin that isn't the right shape.  I really love the deep V-neck.  It shows off the top of my gown quite nicely.  Eventually I'll add trim to the cuffs, but as usual I needed this for an event so something had to give. 

Don't you just love the love the points on the collar corners?  
It all started from this fashion plate.  Except I hate pink.  But the detail!  So delicious!  My apologies for not noting the source.  It was uploaded to Pinterest without any references.  If anyone knows the source please comment and let me know!  I assume Ackerman's.

I've never used soutache before.  I basically made it as I went along.  I started by marking out the pattern I wanted: 

Then I realized I didn't need quite so much chalk...

From there, I just hand stiched it down.  And voila!  A collar!

I think I want soutache on everything.

The back was a bit trickier.  Looking at the fashion plate I realized that they placed designs under the arm.  Knowing I was short on time I wasn't particularly interested in decorating my arm pits.  I stuck with the basics and really, no one noticed I didn't have fancy arm pits.  

The back seam pattern was easy.  I just had to remember to start at the stop and work my way down.  I wanted to make sure it was cross-crossed evenly.  I wasn't happy with the way I originally marked the centre piece.  I seemed to get lost in the seam decor.  I lengthened the design a bit and ended up with this: 

A little Regency punk, no?

For those who know me, "badass" isn't among my oft described characteristics.  At this point it looked a little biker chic.  I wasn't planning on adding the ruffle noted in the pattern, but I felt obligated now just to soften the line a bit.

Behold!  A Spencer!

The details:

Regency Spencer
Challenge #12: ReDo
Redoing challenge: #9 Brown
Fabric: Wool
Pattern: Laughing Moon #129
Year: 1799-1809
Notions: Burgundy soutache
Accuracy: 70%?  I did use poly lining because silk is so hard to get here I'll be damned if I waste it on lining!
Hours: 15
First Worn: Dec 13th for a Regency hymn service and tea
Cost: $45 CAD

Thursday, 19 November 2015

Why you Should Get a Custom Gown

If you've never had clothing custom made for you the process can be a bit daunting.  Your sewist will ask for all kinds of crazy measurements you didn't even know existed and it can get a bit pricey.  So here's a quick guide to explain why it's one of the best decisions you'll make, especially when it comes to costumes and historical sewing.

1. Creative license - You get to completely customize your order.  Whether you are buying a complete outfit, or just a few accessories, it's all up to you and your sewist!  Working with a professional sewist is like working with any other type of designer.  You can show up with a random smattering of ideas and they can help you put it together into a cohesive look.  Seriously, they know what they are doing and pretty much anything is possible.

2. Value - Yeah, okay, it costs more than most clothing.  This is due to what my friend calls, "The Walmart Effect."  We are professional designers and often artists so expect to pay a fair wage.  I don't know any seamstress that charges an outrageous amount per hour, and most things are negotiable.  If you want a grand, 18th century court dress for $100... well, just keep walking there, skipper!  But if you want a certain look that can be achieved with pieces you already have that can be altered, and maybe you just need a certain piece custom made we can help you.  For reals, we like puzzles.  But be prepared to pay what it's worth or just be honest and tell them your budget.  Because you are having something tailor made for you it will wear better and last longer.  So really, it's a great value.  Plus, once you've found a great sewist you can go back and ask for more things and they already know your body.

3. Fit - Helping design a project may be out of your comfort zone, and it cost a bit more than you expected, but when you put on your finished custom made garment... oh man!  Nothing compares to how it feels to have something fit you perfectly without any of the discomfort of an ill-fitting garment.  You'll wear it SO MUCH!  Even if it's a costume or reenactment outfit, you'll be surprised at how many opportunities you'll find to wear it once you have the perfect garment.

I'm sure there are more reasons, but let's just stick with the 3.  I'm a stickler for #3!

As a sewist and tailoress, creating a garment that captures someone's personality is such a gift.  Fit is fairly easy if you've paid attention in sewing and drafting class, but the act of working with someone and actually making a garment that meets, and often, exceeds their expectations is THE BEST.

And it's gosh darn fun!

So, here's my promo for the day.  I make custom gowns and costumes.  For reals.  I really love making people Regency gowns as so many woman believe they can't wear them.  Oh yes you can!

And I can help you with that.

And wouldn't you know it, Regency Encounters is having another ball in February.  You think Lizzy Bennet went to Mr. Bingley's ball in an ill-fitting, hand-me-down dress?  Surely, not!  So why should you?

Check out my Etsy shop for more details.  Again, it's completely customizable.  I'll even make you a matching reticule!

You know you want a matching reticule...


Saturday, 14 November 2015

Costume College Here I Come!

YOU GUYS!  I got my tickets for Costume College 2016!

I'm so overwhelmed with all the emotions.  So many of my costume heroines will be there!  I might actually get to meet them.  Wee!

Now, to figure out what to wear...

Pool party: Romper?  New bathing suit?

Ice cream social: Sherbert Robe a l'Anglaise

Gala:  1770s court dress made of this beauty:

I got 9m of this silk fabric for $11.  Yeah, $11!  And some really love trims from the Fashion Under Siege fabric sale.

Sunday Tea: Regency something or other.  I'll probably be a zombie by this time so whatevs.

Monday fabric shopping: comfy shoes and a big purse.

What's even better about going to CoCo?  B wants to come too!  Not to the conference, but to LA!  Woo!

I'm just too excited!

Monday, 2 November 2015

1912 Mrs Banks: Butterick 6093

I could watch Mary Poppins every day.  All day.  So, for Halloween this year I decided to be Mrs. Banks.  The movie Suffragette just came out (in Canada, at least) so it was a perfect time to go for it.
I have no idea where there the umbrella came from...

I wanted a similar look and feel without being an exact replica of the dress.  For starters, I hate high-necked things.  Probably why I shy away from Edwardian all together.  I started with Butterick 6093.  I read a few reviews before starting and decided it would be a perfect starting point.

I had a piece of blue poly suiting I got in the discount bin for last year's Roman costume so decided to hack it up for this.  I purchased a little pale yellow taffeta and started ruffling.  I'm pretty happy with the result.

I made a few fitting adjustments at the bust, as usual.  I gathered things a little differently than the pattern called for.  But then, I rarely follow the pattern anyway...

I wanted a similar petticoat to the movie costume without spending an entire weekend making a separate petticoat.  I decided to simply add a ruffle to the bottom of the underskirt.  It was just a tad long...

Bathroom selfie for the win!
After a bit of fiddling, and some interesting advice from B regarding ribbon placement, I finished the whole thing in a weekend.  Less, because who works on one thing in a weekend?

I'm super proud of the hat.  I really love millinery and wish I had more opportunity for it.  If I could just make hats all day I'd probably die happy.  But, alas.

I have no idea if this is what an Edwardian hat should look like.  I wanted something particularly non-datable for future flexibility.

And there you have it!  An Edwardian-ish Mrs Banks.

Shoulder to shoulder into the fray!
Challenge #11: Silver Screen
Onscreen Inspiration: Mrs Banks from the 1964 Mary Poppins
Fabric: the most horrid polyester I've ever felt.  But, it's out of the stash.  Poly taffeta.
Pattern: Butterick 6093
Year: 1912
Notions: straw hat, ribbon, button form, snaps, bit of interfacing for the sash.
Accuracy: Fabric is way off, but the colours are good so maybe 50%?
Hours:  Not many.  From inspiration on a Friday evening to completion on Monday night, including all pieces.
First worn: October 29th to Scottish Country dancing (skip change is not meant for Edwardian dresses!)
Total cost: Almost all stash except the yellow taffeta, which was $12 CAD.  Hat was $13 CAD, but I'll re-use it.


Sunday, 18 October 2015

Fall Photo Contest Entry

I finished it!  Well, mostly.

My entry for Emily's Vintage Visions Fall Photo Contest:

The timing of the contest was perfect!  I already had the blouse and trousers in the works.  While I didn't get the trousers I wanted to completed, I already had these ones.  The blouse is from the Smooth Sailing pattern.  The print has flowers and bees in perfect fall colours.  Maybe bees aren't autumnal...?

The jacket is a gift from my Dad.  I've always felt it has a little 1940s feel to it so it was a great addition to this outfit.  I panicked a little because it's been so darn cold the past week.  I though for sure I wouldn't be able to find a tree with any leaves left, but I did!  Huzzah!

The brooch is something near to my heart.  Not because it's heart, but because I got it from the first real costuming job I had.  I moved across the country to work at Fort Edmonton Park, and when I started working in costume one day a week I bought this beauty to wear with my 1884 bustle dress.

And now for the hat.  I had my outfit all planned out until I remembered I don't have an appropriate hat!  Ack!  But then Jill of Adeline's Attic posted this little number for sale.  Don't mind if I do!

I made the mistake of following the directions, which I sure won't do again.  The hat has a bit more personality than I anticipated.  Such is life.

All in all I'm quite happy with this adventure.  It's such a joy to participate in contests like these.  I love getting to see all the entries in the Facebook page.  I do hope this is a yearly thing!

Up next:
I have no idea.  Maybe I'll finish my winter coat before the snow?

Monday, 12 October 2015

Fall Photo Contest Outfit

Have you heard of Emily's Vintage Visions Fall Photo Contest?  Because you should really check it out:

Emily's Vintage Visions

Even if you don't enter do enjoy the vintage clothing descriptions.  Such detail!

I do plan to enter and I'm quite excited about it.  I'll save the final photos until I get my entry together next week, but here's a little teaser description to pique your interest:

- Blouse - lovely slate blue with a floral print.
- Trousers - grey-ish brown wool
- Velvet hat & matching purse - my Grandmother instilled the necessity that one's purse should always match one's hat and shoes.  How can I go against such sound advice?
- Jacket - a Christmas present from my Dad with a distinctly 1940s feel.  
- Shoes - purchased from ModCloth.  And yes, they match my hat and purse!

I'll be making everything but the jacket and shoes.  The blouse is done.  Victory!  Now to make the rest...

The blouse and trousers are part of the Smooth Sailing pattern set from Wearing History.  Since I already had the pattern and corresponding fabric it just seemed to fit with the project.  And ensure I get the damn things done this season!

The hat pattern I can you.

I snapped it up last weekend from Adeline's Attic.  If you haven't checked out her Etsy shop here you should!  She's based in Edmonton so I have the advantage of meeting her in person to shop her attic.  This little pattern was too cute to pass up!  I've wanted a beret style hat for awhile, but wanted something with a bit more structure.  I found it! I'll be making it up in a berry-red velveteen to match the little red flowers in my blouse.  And my shoes and bag (see above).

No idea how I'm doing the bag yet.  I know I want a shell shape, and I probably want some beading, but unless I have yet another sleepless week I should probably scale it back.

And now, back to the sewing machine!  I have a lot of work to get done in a week.  Eep!


Monday, 5 October 2015

Winter Coat: Butterick 5824 - Prep

As I finally catch my breath after September's flurry of activity, I'm focusing just a little bit on sewing for me.

My new winter coat, which has been in the works for  two years (!), is finally cut and serged.  This is not a feat to go unacknowledged!  I've had my lovely turquoise wool for almost two years.  When my favourite fabric store was going out of business (RIP Estee's) I snapped it up at a rather reduced price.  The downside, of course, being there was only 4 meters of it.  At time I hadn't picked a pattern and thought surely it would be enough fabric.

Enter Butterick 5824:

A divine 1950's swing coat with an opulent shawl collar.  What else could I ask for?  

More fabric :( 

The pattern takes 5.2 meters.  Of course!  

I knew I would be short fabric, but thought with a tad bit of creative cutting and a contrast collar I could make it work.  As I laid out my patterns pieces Sunday afternoon it was clearly not going to happen.  After a panicked trip to Fabricland to discover there was no suitable alternative, I returned home to brainstorm.  Lovely B even offered to drive to Calgary next weekend to find an alternate fabric at my new favourite fabric spot.  Note: marry someone who will drive 3 hours each way to get you the right fabric!  

As we stood in line at Sunterra buying too much, as always, I realized I had two options.  Cut the length significantly (um, nope!) or use contrast for the hem band as well as the collar.  The more I thought about a black velvet hem band the more I liked it.  Done!

I hacked 8" of the bottom of each skirt pattern piece and tried my luck again.  When I laid out the pattern pieces this time I actually had extra fabric.  VICTORY!!!  

I laid out my wool, double-layered, then added my wind-breaker fabric on top.  Again, double-layered.  These are layers 1 and 2.

The layers are as follows:

1. Turquoise wool.
2. Wind breaker fabric.  I actually have no idea what it's really called, but that's what I call it.  Comment below if you know it's name.
3. Wool interlining.  YOU GUYS.  Do you know how hard it is to find lambswool interlining?!?  Ugh.  I'm using wool quilt batting.  Fingers crossed.
4. Silver Kasha back lining.  

I'm debating on lining the coat at layer 2, then making the kasha back and wool interlining a removable layer.  That will give me a more versatile coat plus give me the option to increase the interlining if it's not warm enough.  I'm pretty sure it will be though.

Why am I not using the thinsulate stuff they sell at Fabricland, you ask?  Because I hate that stuff.  It doesn't breath properly and it makes a crinkle noise.  I do not like to crinkle when I move.  

The lady at the quilt store gave me a disapproving look for wanting to add wool batting to a coat until I explained I plan to quilt it to the lining in a matching turquoise.  Then she was on board.  Related note, I LOVE Johnson's Sewing Centre and Quilter's Dream.  So nice and friendly.  And they saved me money!  

But I digress.  Moving on.

The collar, 8" of the skirt hem, and 4" of the sleeve hem will be black velvet.  It will be a lavish swing coat that will probably cause me to twirl all the way to work.  Meh, it's Jasper Ave.  Unlikely the weirdest thing to happen on my route.


Wednesday, 30 September 2015

1810 Friendship Dress

Finally, a completed project post!  Whew! 

I've been so busy sewing things for others that I've completely neglected the blog.  My bad.

Behold!  My 1810 Friendship dress...

Challenge #9: Brown
What I call my friendship dress...
Fabric: brown synthetic shot with burgundy flower pattern. 
Pattern: Laughing Moon 126
Year: 1810-ish
Notions: thread and two straight pins
Accuracy: pattern is based on extant examples. Fabric pattern and style is appropriate, but it is a synthetic. Maybe 70%? 
Hours: about 8 
First worn: photo shoot on Sept 26, 2015
Total cost: $0! 

One day, a lovely friend brought this fabric to me and said, it's just so Meg.  You must wear it!  And so, I did.  As cheesy as it sounds, I feel truly blessed to have people in my life that sacrifice fabric in my honour.  Ok, maybe that was too cheesy...

In preparation for the Regency Sewing Guild's dressmaking class I figured maybe I should make the dress I was going to be teaching.  Probably a good call.  I completed this dress in under 8 hours.  I'm getting faster and more accurate.  Huzzah!

It's made from the Laughing Moon pattern #126, which I absolutely adore!  My heart belongs to Laughing Moon anyway, but this dress pattern is just divine!  It cuts and sews beautifully.  I also discovered that I am exactly a LM size 14.  No adjustments needed.  First time for everything.

I'm pleased to say it was ready in time for my photo shoot with the lovely Natalie D'Aoust photography.  We work together in our 9-5 lives, but have connected through our own creative endeavours.  She agreed to take photos of my outfits!  Yay!

A sneak peak:

How great is it that she travels with a step stool? 

Once the photos are done, I'm sure you'll enjoy them as much as I do.  Can't wait to share!


Tuesday, 15 September 2015

The To Do List

Since I'm home sick with a cold I think today is an excellent day to take stock.  Between commissions and personal projects I have some many things to do!

I have four regency gowns on the go, with a fifth coming this weekend.  What fun!  I love building dresses for each client to suit their personality and use.

I'm also making some rompers and baby things for a local photographer.  Totally new market, but so nice to try something different!

And did I mention I'm coordinating and designing a friend's wedding?  Yeah, super fun!  A Frozen theme is the best way to start the holiday season.

For me, well...

- Net overlay for my gold silk ball gown.  Beaded, of course, because I can't make my life easy.
- Wool winter coat.
- Miss Fisher trousers
- 1780s Robe a l'Anglaise

That's doable, right?  Right...?

I'm also involved with the newly formed Regency Sewing Guild.  Beginning on October 16th you can join us for Regency stay-making classes complete with tea and scones.  Details here.  The fee includes all the materials and pattern so you just show up, sew, and eat scones.  Did I mention scones...?

Saturday, 8 August 2015

Catching my Breath

The past few months have been complete chaos.  Good chaos, but still.

I opened my website mid-July, which took considerable time considering I have so few proper pictures of things I want to showcase.  Check it out at NutmegSews.com!

Have I mentioned how great Instagram is?  It takes wonderful photos!  I know it's just a social media app, but truly the filters make my amateur photography skills look good.  I have professional photos scheduled for September so Instagram will have to do for now.

Now that the site is mostly up and running, I can refocus on my blog.  Oh wait, no, because I have so many new clients!  I'm terribly pleased to be working with some lovely ladies to make a total of 5 Regency gowns.  I took a week off work to try and catch up, though I'm not entirely sure I did.  I have 1.5 dresses done and two projects for me done.  I'm also 2/3 done my friend's wedding favours.   And almost done B's 1932 housecoat.

Yesterday I came home with 20.5m of fabric and I didn't spend a single cent!  Not that you can spend a cent in Canada anymore...


I bartered time helping friends for ALL THE FABRIC!  Victory is mine!

August is another super busy month for me.  I'm working a second job as a production assistant, which is terribly exciting, but of course takes time.  As I mentioned, I still have custom work to do.  And of course trying to get as many things as I can into my Etsy shop.  Oh, and did I mention there's another ball coming up?  Details here: Regency Encounters.  So many exciting things!

Clearly writing 'what's next' at the end of my blog posts has nothing to do with which project I actually post next.  I have no idea what I'm finishing next, but it likely won't be for me.  For the September ball I will wear my gold 1811 silk gown.  I've decided to make an open robe to go over top, but who knows if I'll actually finish it.  I also have to fix B's breeches as they were a tad big.  And make myself garters.  And a spencer.  Oi!

I should probably get sewing before I hyperventilate.


Sunday, 12 July 2015

Overdue Post and Lost Stays

It's been so long I hardly know what to write!

So many things have happened in the last few months.  First, Regency Encounters was kind enough to host a ball in Calgary.  As you've seen I made an outfit for B to attend with me.  He decided to be more Darcy than Bingley and sit pridefully looking on from the corner.  He did look dashing if I do say so myself.

I finished sewing all our garments on the way to Calgary.  On four hours sleep.  Not my brightest move, but necessary.

Sewing-wise things were quiet for a few months after that until last week I was asked to participate in a promotional photo shoot for an upcoming Regency event: a Promenade and Tea!  How exciting!  That's when I discovered my stays did not come home from Calgary.  They 'stayed' too long at the ball.  (necessary pun)

I already needed a day dress for the Tea, but now I needed stays too.  Somehow I managed to get my new stays and day dress done in 4 days in time for the photo shoot.  Go me!  I still want to add some Van Dyke trim to jazz it up a bit, but I'm quite happy with the stripes.

Photo by Bryan Young/St Albert Gazette

The St Albert Gazette did a wonderful job on the photos and article!  See the whole article here:

The dress was based around my new bonnet. It was made completely of stash materials, which I'm super happy with.  I recycled some sketchy interfacing, repurposed some satin, and used up the last of the random ribbon I bought for my wedding.  I'm quite pleased with the results.

Up next, a new stove pipe hat and Van Dyke trim.


Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Regency Waistcoat

Two projects in one weekend.  Boom!

Challenge #4: War & Peace

Fabric: poly brocade, cotton lining

Pattern: Laughing Moon #123

Year: 1806 - 1830

Notions: thread, interfacing, lion buttons

How historically accurate is it? 60%.  Fabric pattern is ok, but not natural.  Modern interfacing.

First worn: Will be worn May 16th

Time: Maybe 4 hours including a fabric store run for the buttons.

Cost:  $8

This was a really easy pattern.  I'm loving Laughing Moon patterns.  Super easy instructions, great diagrams, and a bibliography!  I love how the collar stands up and frames the face.  Obviously will look better once the cravat is done.

Next up is the tailcoat.  Any advice?  I'm feeling a little apprehensive.


Monday, 6 April 2015

Getting Back on Track

My sewing has stalled of late.  I'm working on a gaggle of projects for a Regency ball in May, but stopped to make a lovely Spring dress for myself for a fundraiser I was volunteering for.  It's a beautiful SpoonFlower fabric I bought last year.  It's a buttery yellow with a pink and turquoise flower border.  What could be better for a springtime-themed event?

Of course I was still sewing the day of the event.  Of course.  I just finished the zipper and tried it when I realized that I've somehow changed shape since I padded out my mannequin in January.  The dress was 3" too big!  All that work for naught.

Blast and damn!

I won't lie, this set me back a few weeks.  I was planning to make a new set of Regency stays since I've had so many issues with my February set plus make a new ball gown for May, but it's a tad tricky when you don't have an appropriately sized mannequin.  (Note: I drape as many patterns as I can because I don't particularly like drafting.  Draping cuts out the first round of fitting which saves time when I'm making things for me.)

Last weekend I decided to tackle my stays.  I was debating whether I should stick with the pattern I have or buy a new and start from scratch.  When I get in these indecisive moods it can take quite a bit of time to sort myself out.  I usually spend my time 'researching' on Pinterest and convincing myself of several different things at once affectionately known as procrasti-pinteresting (not a word, just a Meg-ism; note variations as procrasti-sewing, procrasti-cleaning, and procrasti-shopping).  I was also trying to find buttons for B's 1932 housecoat, his frockcoat and vest, and figure out if the silk I bought for my gown was even appropriate or it pogey bait.  For a description on pogey bait, see the Dreamstress' posts here.

Anyway, I decided to stick with my current stays.  I'm trying to limit the amount of UFOs and miscellania I keep around.  Truns out, I only needed to add a busk pocket, tie the ties higher, and take in one hip gusset.  Victory!  I will spare you the photos of my Regency 'shelf' until I have a proper chemise.

Since I'm starting from scratch for B's outfit I've decided to put his sewing first.  As much as I wanted to sew his shirt entirely by hand I just don't have time.  Yesterday I finished the shirt.

Historical Sew Monthly Info

The Challenge: #4 War & Peace. Though I'm also counting this a #1 Foundations since this is the first time I've strayed into men's clothing and done these type of hand stitches.

Fabric: Hankerchief linen

Pattern: Kannik's Korner Man's shirt, 1790-1830

Year: 1790-1830, will be worn for a Regency ball

Notions: Cotton thread, buttons (eventually)

How historically accurate is it? I'd say 70%. Accurate fabric and pattern, but mostly machine sewn. Edges are finished by hand so you can't see the machine stitches.

Hours to complete: 7

First worn: Will be worn May 16 to a ball. Fingers crossed there's a frock coat to go with this or madness will ensue!

Total cost: $32

The vest is cut and ready to be sewn.  Maybe done by tomorrow...?  Then frock coat mock-up.  And I suppose I should make him breeches...


Monday, 9 March 2015

Why I shouldn't carry my own credit card

So... I went fabric shopping yesterday.

Fabric stores in Edmonton are pretty limited.  The cheapest silk I can find is $45/m.  Ouch!  Thankfully we were in Calgary this weekend so I could take time to find a few things I can't get at home.

Since I've convinced my husband, B, to come with me to the Regency ball in May I figured I should maybe make him a costume.  I ordered all the patterns I need from Spencer's Mercantile in Hamilton, Ontario.  I lived 45 minutes away and never knew it existed!

Back to fabric - there's a odd little fabric store in Calgary called Reena's Fabric and Saris.  You'd never know from the outside, but it has a great selection at reasonable prices.  Plus, saris!  Great for making Regency dresses.

We found B's fabrics right away.  Nice cream satin for the breeches, green and gold damask for the vest, and a heavy wool suiting for the tailcoat.


Of course I spent more time figuring out my dress... I was thinking about making a crossover dress, but now I'm thinking I should make a gold gown with a red overdress.  Yes, I think yes.  Now that I've written here I'll stick to it.  Yes...

Sari with beads already attached!  Yay!

 New projects are exciting and all, but I still have to finish B's 1930s housecoat.  It's one of my projects for HSM Challenge #3 - Stashbusting so I have to get a move on.


Sunday, 1 March 2015

1818 Regency Ballgown

So, I got to go to a ball.  A real ball!  I didn't expect to get tickets, as it was sold out, but I did with a week to spare.  Thank goodness I had part of a pattern done.

I took a dozen or so dresses from fashion plates and extant examples and put them into this:

I look pretty good if I do say so myself.

1818-ish Ball gown
Challenge #2: Blue
Fabric: discount bin satin and drapery lace
Pattern: Self-draped based on fashion plates and extant examples. Bits and pieces of various dresses combined into one.
Year: 1818-ish
Notions: stash lace and organza flowers, thread
I'd say 50% accurate. Poly satin and lace pattern are way off; however I tend to wear slightly off fabrics anyway so for me it's 70% accurate.
Hours to complete: 10-ish. I was on a super tight deadline!
First worn: Feb 28th at a Regency ball.
Total cost: $60 CAD

I found the fabric in the discount bin (hurrah!), but didn't realize until I got home that it smelled like moth balls.  Now my entire sewing room and my ironing board cover smell like mothballs.  Because that's an easy smell to get rid of...

There's another ball in May 2015 which I'm planning to make a new dress for.  1. I want a mothball free gown and, 2. I really want a crossover gown.  I'm planning to use Sense and Sensibility's Elegant Lady's Closet.

I know the lace is a bit off for the period, but as you'll notice in my accuracy post I'm likely to wear something off anyway.  

Thoughts?  How do you represent yourself in historical sewing?  

Up next...
1930s men's housecoat.

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Interpreting Myself in Times Past

One thing I've been thinking about a lot lately is how to keep my sewing as a reflection of contemporary me.  We've all gone into a fabric store and bought something 'pretty' without a particular use that then sits in the stash waiting for a purpose because it never quite fits.  I have two lovely silks in my pile that I take out and pet every so often, then carefully place them back in their cubby until I think of something 'really good' to use them for.  As much as I love them, they don't fit for me.

When the Dreamstress wrote this week about Historical Accuracy, I knew I was on the right track.  I want my sewing to reflect not only who I am now, but who I think I would've been in each time period I work in.  At first I thought I would create a persona for each outfit or dress to focus my whole outfit towards a common goal, but that wasn't quite enough.

I've decided to make a list of things that represent not only my station in life (very important for historical sewing!), but also things that make me want to wear a garment.  So, here's the start:

1 - My family started a lower-middle class, then rose to upper-middle later on.  Being an only child helped (simple math, only so much to go around), but most 'special event' garments were paid for by my Grandparents or made by my mother.  Also plausible that about the time I'd be 'coming out' in society my family's resources would have allowed me to make a more favourable match than 5 years earlier.

2 - I like working.  I simply can't bear to be idle.  I imagine I'd be constantly embroidering or gardening (a.k.a. killing plants...).

3 - I'm a HUGE klutz.  No, seriously, I walk into a wall about once a week.  Any costume I make has to stand up to my particular brand of 'grace' and 'agility.'

4 - I like an element of fun in my clothing.  Whether it be a fun print, or a snappy colour, or simply a quirky accessory, I like things that are just slightly left of centre.

5 - I like to be comfy.  I'm comfortable in a suit though so take it as you will...  Clothing that fits properly and has the right amount of structure is more comfortable to me than leggings (hello muffin top!).

6 - I'm usually a few years off current fashion.  Whatevs, I'm cool with it.

With these in mind I've refocused my projects for the next few months.  For example, I'm making a complete Regency outfit for a ball in May.  I've been putting off adding the busk to my stays and couldn't figure out what I was afraid of.  Seriously, it's a paint stick, not a torture device!  But then I thought about the above, particularly 3 and 5, and realized to me it IS a torture device.  I'm going to pull the bloody thing out partway through the ball anyway, so why bother.

I'm keeping a fair bit of boning in my Regency stays simply because I can't imagine myself simply tossing out a) all that whalebone and b) going completely away from such a structured garment like 18th century stays.

Enough said. Now, back to the grind.


Up next...
Regency Stays & Petticoat

Monday, 2 February 2015

1760s Stays. FINALLY.

I'm pleased to post my 1760s stays!  I'll spare you the photo of me in it with the excessive 1760s boob-age.

Not perfection by any means, but I'm quite pleased with myself.  I learned so much! Binding by hand was a bit more than my carpal tunnel could handle, hence the late entry.

This is my second entry for the January Historical Sew Monthly Challenge.  At least one was finished on time...  


What the item is: 1760s Stays

The Challenge: #1 Foundations

Fabric: 100% cotton. Toile fashion layer, canvas inside, broadcloth lining.

Pattern: Butterick 4254

Year: 1760s-ish

Notions: Cotton thread, cotton embroidery floss, plastic cable ties.

How historically accurate is it?  Maybe 60%?  The toile pattern is a little off, but I love it.  Mostly machine sewn except the binding and lacing holes.

Hours to complete: 30+ It feels like forever, but it was so worth it!

First worn: Just for a photo.

Total cost: Maybe $25 CAD

Things I learned:
- How to sew eyelets.  Definitely something new and something to continue to grow my skills in.
- How to fit a corset.  I wouldn't say I'm the best at it, but I followed a great tutorial on how to use cardboard to fit stays before cutting everything.  

Things to change:
- The straps are too short and quite difficult to put on properly.  
- It's hard to see, but there's one too many tabs in the front.  A note for next time.

Up next...  Regency stays!

Sunday, 18 January 2015

1760s stays part 2

Two posts in one weekend!  Whoa!  Perhaps I'm a tad excited to share my progress on my stays...?

I've put all the pieces together AND sewn all the channels.  WOO!  But seriously, just let that sink in... Sounds quick and easy, yes?

Since I'm sewing the mostly by machine, I attached all the pieces together first.  I'm using two layers of cotton canvas for the inside, cotton toile sateen for the outside, and cotton broadcloth for the lining.  I marked my channels on the good side of one of the canvas pieces.

Don't mind the minty toes!

Before sewing ANY channels, I carefully stitched all the seams together.  I was petrified things would shift and I'd be so discouraged I wouldn't finish them.  I'm not saying that's happened before or anything... It was surprisingly easy to sew all the channels.  Time consuming though.  Even by machine it took me almost two hours.  I hope I'm not the only crazy person that super enjoys sewing channels...


Don't you just LOVE toile??

Hard to see in this one.  Bloody iPhone.
Tonight's project: making yards and yards of bias.  Fingers crossed I have enough left to line the inside with.  I have plain white, but who wants that!  And also sewing hand bound lacing holes.  Hrmph!


Saturday, 17 January 2015

Stay the Course

As promised, an update on my 1760s-ish stays.

To check the fit of the finished stays, I found this most interesting blog describing the use of cardboard as a replacement.  See Slightly Obsessed for more details.  So great!  I'll spare you the photos of me half-laced into cardboard and duct tape.

I made a few adjustments to the front tab.  You'll notice it's just a little nub now whereas it was was a full tab before.

I'm using Butterick 4254, which is made for modern seamstresses and not historically accurate ones.  Since I'm machine sewing my channels and am therefore already cheating, I feel justified.

I'm using a lovely piece of cotton with a sage floral pattern.  It was ear-marked for another project, but that's just the way things go sometimes.  I've searched high and low for linen for the inside of the stays, but no luck.  Edmonton simply does not sell linen canvas.  I was lucky enough to find all cotton fabric so it is at least accurate fabric if not my first choice.

Here's my progress so far:

I've pieced it together and marked my button holes.  Just marking the casings tonight so I can fully assemble tomorrow.  Hopefully.

In other news... Meet Judy:

Judy came home with me from College one day after the school replaced all the mannequins and sold off the old ones to students.  I believe I paid $125 for her.  Originally she would have cost upwards of $2000!  Even through my moves across the country I've toted Judy with me.  I was close-ish to Judy's size when I purchased her; however, she needed some adjustments now.

I read a few different ways to recover a mannequin, but since I need every inch to be pinnable, I decided that a muslin cover padded to my size was the way to go.  I started by making a princess seam tunic that was exactly my size.  I used a zipper in the back to check the fit, then removed it before starting to fluff.

Then I started padding.  I used 100% natural cotton quilt batting left over from the 'year of the baby' in which I made 8 quilts.  I simply cut it to the shape needed and tacked it in place.  I even sacrificed a bra in the name of appropriately placed boobage.

A little fluff here, a little fluff there...

Seriously, I have no rump.

Then, just tacked the cover closed.  It was actually quite simple.  I highly recommend this process!  It's semi-permanent, pin-friendly, and allows for any weight changes quite easily.  

The new improved Judy!

Cheers all!