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Friday, 16 December 2016

Vintage Capsule Wardrobe Update - Simplicity 1590 Blouse

I've been working my way towards a capsule wardrobe for some time.  A capsule wardrobe (at least my interpretation) is one where you own less items of clothing, but they all coordinate.  It avoids the daily 'what should I wear?'  or 'where's the matching blouse?'.  And since I'm truly lazy about mornings (seriously, just bring me tea and back away!), it helps that I can just grab whatever is clean and looked put together.

For my capsule, I've selected purple, blue/navy, turquoise, and green, with the occasional hint of yellow accessories.  Black and white are acceptable as long as they match at least three outfits.  I tend towards more vintage styles anyway so it just made sense to focus on using more vintage patterns for the items I make.

Enter the Vintage Capsule Wardrobe Sewing group!  First, so lovely!  We may not be interested in the same era or colour-scheme, but it's wonderful to have a like-minded group for encouragement.  For December they've created a blouse sew-along.  I struggle with blouses!  It's so much more fun to make a fancy frock or skirt so that's where I focus my energy, but with my job now being in a costume shop trousers and a top are much easier!


I picked out several items to sew for December.  Ideally, I'd like to get three finished before I start school in January as who knows what my time will be like!


I started with one that's been in the UFO (unfinished object) pile for longer than I'm willing to admit.  I found some lovely green rayon with navy dots awhile back and decided it would be great for Simplicity 1590.  So cute, right?


I couldn't remember how far I'd gotten, but I just had to finish it first.  And I did!  I basically had to finish the front edges of the peplum and buttons and buttonholes.  No idea why I left it when it was so close to being done! 


The pattern instructions were a bit interesting.  As always, I wrinkled my nose and made up my own. 

One new blouse in the closet!  Huzzah!

Tuesday, 8 November 2016

1805 Summer Bonnet

Oh my heavens!  I completely forgot to tell you all about my summer bonnet.  Let me do so now.

After last summer's Promenade I wanted a light, airy bonnet for the inconsistent summer here in Alberta.  June could snow, rain, or scorch us, or quite possibly all three!  July is usually quite warm.  August could be the same as June, though typically in the reverse order.  (I promise I don't jest!  It snowed the day after our end of August wedding)

I discovered this lovely bonnet by FestiveAttyre:


The unlined straw is exactly what I'd been looking for!  While in LA I discovered California Millinery, which has an entire section of straw braids of every shape and colour.  I came home with three different kinds, one being a navy blue that would suit my outfit nicely.

Festive Attyre's blog was the only useful source I could find regarding where to start.  I tried a few Facebook groups, but they all suggested a buckram base, which I was hoping to avoid.  As usual, I just decided to give it a go and hope for the best.

I made my frame out of bristol board, did a quick check for fit and shape, and then started pinning my straw.  As I only had a short length I decided to start with the brim and work backwards.  I was hoping for a longer bonnet, but buying materials in a foreign place with a long line behind you makes it nearly impossible to think straight.

I quickly spritzed my straw with water before starting to pin it to the base.  It did nothing to help and I was so frustrated I nearly gave up on the whole thing.  I remembered reading something somewhere about soaking straw to get it to behave, but only for a short time.  I soaked my straw for 25 seconds in tepid water until the dye started to leak out and I panicked and pulled it out.  I let it sit in a strainer for a few minutes before starting.

You'll notice I wrapped my base in plastic wrap so it didn't get too wet.

From there I just started pinning.  And pinning.  And pinning.

The dye didn't fade at all to the naked eye, but my hands were purple-ish blue for a week!

I decided to pin the entire thing before sewing as I thought for sure I'd make a mess of it.  By the time I finished pinning the crown the brim was dry enough to start sewing.  I used a sturdy thread and just started stitching, removing the pins and I went.


I wanted the brim flipped under at the back so I basically just made a bucket hat.  It was a rather boring shape until I flipped the back, close pinned it in place, and let it dry again before stitching it down.

While waiting for it to dry we went to Chintz and Co.  It's one of our favourite stores, though we mostly spend time at the back in the fabric section.  It's the only place in Edmonton you can get really nice quality silks and velvets.  They are mostly a home decor store and so have excellent quality petersham and faux flowers.  I was able to grab a few items to match my bonnet, and then finish that same evening.

Ta da!

My very, very late HSM entry:
What the item is: Regency Summer Bonnet
The Challenge: #6 Travel
Fabric/Materials: Straw braid, faux flowers, feathers, 
Pattern: My own
Year: 1805
Notions: thread, ribbon
How historically accurate is it? Very.  Based on a fashion plate from 1805 and entirely hand-made
Hours to complete: Oi.  About 16-20
First worn: August 21st, 2016
Total cost: $40 CAD

A bonnet fit for a good frolic!

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Pride and Prejudice Ball 2016

O.  M.  G.

I've scarcely had time to sleep let alone to write!  What an adventure the past few months have been.  After the May Regency Costume Fair I met so many lovely new clients!  Gowns and tailcoats were ordered.  Fabric purchased.  Mock ups were made and fitted.

And then at the second Costume Fair in September I had more inquiries about custom gowns!  With the ball fast approaching I hunkered down and put the pedal to the metal, so to speak.  I don't think I've ever sewn so fast in my life!  I made 35 custom pieces, all due and worn in one weekend.  That doesn't include in the various reticules and cravats I made, or any fans or feathers.

I'm pleasantly overwhelmed by the abundance!  It was a joy to meet with so many lovely people just as crazy as I am who want to join our Regency events.  How lovely it is to grow our community in such an immense way, and in such a short time no less!

We managed take group shots both evenings, which I'll post at a later date once they are available.

For now I'll leave you with this gem.  (Do please see Nanc Price's beautiful photos here: Saturday Photos .  I'm so pleased to have her as the photographer for this event!)

Do check out the hashtag #AustenYEG for more lovely photos!

Saturday, 10 September 2016

1920s Zig-zag Dress

In my other, other life, I do a few events around Edmonton, and sometimes they are even themed.  Hello?  Right up my alley!

Behold my new 1920s gown:

The outer fabric is a sheer black with flocked zig-zags.  How fun!  I got it at the FIDM scholarship store for a steal of a deal.  The best part?  I cut out the whole dress while matching patterns, which takes so much fabric, and I still have a ton left over.  Huzzah for 60" wide!

The green silk charmeuse is part of the great silk heist of 2015 from my lovely friends at Fashion Under Siege.  And I have enough *I think* to make a blouse, too.

It fits perfectly in the Pattern challenge as well, even if a bit late.  It's my second entry so I think it'll pass. 

Challenge #8: Pattern

What the item is: Evening Dress & Blouse
Fabric/Materials: Silk charmeuse, flocked sheer fabric
Pattern: Decades of Style Tier-rific Ensemble
Year: 1924-ish
Notions: Bias, thread
How historically accurate is it? Maybe 75%-ish?  
Hours to complete: About 8
First worn: Sept 8th, 2016
Total cost: Maybe $15

I'm also quite impressed with myself for doing finger waves in my hair.  I set the front myself and then had the hair and make up peeps finish the back.  Fab, right?  And check out my new Besame lipstick!  I truly hate lipstick, but I actually like wearing this one.  It's not drying and stays put!

I'm going to call this a win!

Sunday, 28 August 2016

1817 Velvet Ballgown

With another Regency Ball looming I started considering my wardrobe for appropriate attire.  I have multiple gowns, true, but with the completion of my 1806 Hortense gown I feel the need to further my skills and create another gown.  I've settled on this portrait:

1817, by Antoine-Jean Gros

I love everything about this!  The colour, the floof, and the jewels!  In trying to dissect the gown, particularly the white trim piece, I reached out to several costuming groups online for insight into how to start my reproduction.  I did a little more digging on the Duchess, and noticed her predilection for a particular gown style.  





Favourite style much?  It certainly makes it easy for me to recreate the bodice with all the different views and angles.  The gown is fairly straightforward (famous last words!).  The sleeves will require a bit of testing, and beading, but they are a repeating design so I think doable.

The trouble is the hem.  Because it's not shown I have quite a bit of artistic license.  Based on the way that the trim hangs away from the body at the shoulders it's likely a separate train worn over the gown, like 1816 portrait above.  


The plan as it is today is to make a velvet gown with the floofy, pearled sleeves and lacy hems.  Including of course the gathered satin across the bust line.  I can't wait to add crystals to the waistband!  Pearls!  Crystals!  Floof!  YASSSS!


Thursday, 4 August 2016

1770s Robe a la Francaise

I'm just back from Costume College so I hardly know what to write!  I'll write a post about that soon.  You know, once my luggage arrives home...

My 1770s gown started as it so often does; it all started with a gorgeous striped silk I picked up for $11!  I've had it in my stash for over a year knowing it would become a Francaise one day.

I already had the stays so I just had to make panniers.  I followed The Dreamstress' pannier along tutorial.  I highly recommend it!  The only adjustment I made was that I decided not to put a bottom in my panniers.  Stupid, stupid idea.  Ignore me and follow the directions!

It started as a 1760s gown with this delightful number from the MET as inspiration:

MET, 1750-1775 European gown, silk
I used Katherine Caron-Greig's tutorial on making a Francaise gown.  I found it quite easy to follow.  Check out the nine part series here: http://koshka-the-cat.blogspot.ca/2011/03/draping-sort-of-sacque-part-one.html

I started with the back in order to make sure I had enough fabric.  Matching the stripes was the only tricky part.  

Once I had the pleats in I could add the side panels and start pleating in the skirts.  Once I knew how much fabric I needed for the back I could cut the petticoat.  Then, came the trim...

This was quite the trial and error! I did my best to replicate the trim in my inspiration photo, but honestly I was just winging it!  I cheated and machine sewed the trim on the petticoat.  Not ideal, but I was running short on time.  The straight line was a little finicky, but doable.  The wavy part was completely crazy!  I made a guide and just started pinning.

But it worked:

Knowing the amount of trim I had to do on the gown I was feeling a little apprehensive.  With a little advice from various sources I just dove right in the to the rest.  I finished the rest of the gown.  I'm especially proud of the back robings :)

Now, this is where things got tricky.  I found a delightful little ship for my hair.  A SHIP.  FOR MY HAIR!  I wasn't willing to sacrifice the ship so I had to adjust the gown.  Ships in hair were worn specifically to celebrate a naval battle fought and won against the British by the French in 1778.  I had planned to create a stomacher for my gown, but that was WAY too early and wouldn't hit that middle ground I was aiming for.  Then I came across a compere front gown.  

It's a perfect blend of styles.  It's a sewn in stomacher with functioning buttons.  How clever!  It also makes it easier to get in and out of.

I draped it like a normal stomacher and then just marked the centre, added my seam allowance, and away I go!  

After sewing on MILES and MILES (I just got back from the US!) of trim, here's the final dress:

I'm so proud of it!  

The Challenge: #8 Pattern
Material: Silk stripe and trim, cotton lining
Pattern: Draped based on Katherine Caron-Grieg's Sacque tutorial
Year: 1770s
Notions: silk and cotton thread, covered buttons, ribbon for bows
Accuracy:  I'm going to give myself about an 80% on this one. Materials and pattern are spot on.  I did cheat and use modern techniques for the sleeves, and a button cover kit, but it's almost entirely hand sewn.
Hours:  Oh boy.  I have no idea.  If it weren't for very dear friends helping me sew this it would have been impossible!
First worn: July 30th, Costume College Gala
Total Cost: $25.  No, that's not a typo :)

Special shout out to Jenny La Fleur for the AMAZING hairstyle.  The ship and flowers were absolutely perfect!  And jewellry by Dames a la Mode!

Special, special shout out to some very lovely ladies for helping me pleat all this trim and hand sew it on!  Without their love and support this gown would be me in a puddle of silk, crying.  Ladies, you are truly amazing friends!


Wednesday, 22 June 2016

1912 Post-Edwardian Tea Gown

Have I mentioned I love my job?  Like really love my job?  To commemorate the suffragette movement in Alberta the Legislature organized a costumed-rally  and invited Fort Edmonton staff to join.  What fun!  Of course I volunteered.  While I didn't actually get to attend because I'm a klutz and injured my foot, I did make this little beauty.

I based my outfit on this fashion plate:
Ladies Home Journal, January 1912
Soutache: check.  Pattern I already have: check.  Excuse to re-design my boater: check.  Use only stash materials: check.

I used a lovely aqua-coloured linen with white soutache for the gown.  The blouse is made from ikea curtains originally destined for a regency gown, but alas.

The pattern sews together beautifully.  I used the same pattern for Mrs Banks so I was able to whip it together quickly.  I did interface the facings as soutache appreciates a little something to hold on to.  The bodice and skirt hem don't have facings in the pattern so I quickly drafted them.  The other change I made to the pattern, which was more time consuming than it needed to be was that I removed the pleat from the skirt.  It made me look a tad more poochy than I really needed it to...
Butterick 6093, 1912

I wanted to keep the pretty tulip hem without the pleat.  I'm sure the lack of tea contributed to my troubles.  I swear it took longer to redraft that one piece than it did to sew the damn thing together!

Once the pattern was in order it assembled super quickly.  I made my soutache template as usual, marking the intersections with my iron-away marker.  And then, I soutached.  And soutached.  And soutached.  

Just keep stitching...
I'm quite pleased with the result!  It hangs beautifully and gives a lovely post-Edwardian silhouette.  I'm reserving the full photo for post-CoCo so patience, dear friends!  But, here's a sneak peek:


Sunday, 19 June 2016

Catching Up & Francaise Progress

The spring got away from me a little.  And by a little I mean HOLY HELL I WAS BUSY!  I adore my new job, but it was crazy costuming so many people on such short notice.  Such is the way of the world!  I'm so thankful for the opportunity.  That said, I've had little time to focus on NutmegSews.

At the end of May, Regency Encounters held a Regency Fashion Fair to outfit all our newcomers with Regency regalia.  How exciting!  I jumped at the chance to participate.  I had a comprehensive plan to make all kinds of ready-made items in all sizes and styles.  Because of all the free time I have.  *eye roll*  I did get a few items ready to sell, plus I had a ton of patterns and fans to offer.

It was a huge success!  For my first craft sale I'm exceedingly pleased with the result.  I worked hard at making sure my booth was on brand and welcoming to guests.  B even came with to be the money-taker, simple-question-answerer, bag-boy, etc.  I spent most of the time discussing custom orders with clients and he sold the ready-made items.  I'm glad I didn't finish all the dresses I planned to as most people want something made just for them.  I finished a few sample dresses in my size so we could discuss styles and desires on the spot.

It was so fun to meet all the new people to our little Regency Community!  I'm delighted they've found us.  With all the events coming up this summer and fall, I'm now booked until November.  YAY!

That's in addition to Costume College..

Right.  Costume College.  It kind of snuck up on me.  Best laid plans and all that.

My Robe a la Francaise is coming along.  I FINALLY dug it out of it's laundry basket this week.  Yes, I use laundry baskets for fabric.  Turns out I was a bit farther than I remembered.  I've draped the back panels and tacked them together to trim to size.  Now I need to remove the tacking, cut the other side, and sew together properly.  The petticoat is hemmed and now on Judy pleated and ready to be sewn into the ties.  Now I need to drape the front and the sleeves.

I've started to think about how I'm going to decorate the dress.  I really love the skirt on this guy:
From the MET collection, 1750-75:
For the sleeves and robings I'll go with something like this:
Portrait of a Lady by French School, ca 1772-85 France, the Bowes Museum
I did find one in almost an identical print that has self-decoration, but I have a fondness for silk organza so I'll just do pleated rows of that.  I still have no idea what I'm doing for the stomacher.  That's future Meg's problem.  Likely lots of bows, because BOWS!

And that's it for now, friends.  I'm snowed under with commissions.  Back to sewing!


Friday, 25 March 2016

1806 Soutache Gown

I'm pleased to say that I finished my elaborate soutache gown in time for the ball!

To recap:  I've been dreaming of this lovely portrait for ages.  It's elaborate and subtle at the same time.  The folds of the sleeves have me captivated.

1806, Hortense de Beauharnais with her son Napoleon Charles by Fraincois-Pascal-Simon Gerard
I'm not a particular fan of white dresses so I opted to use some lavender satin from my stash instead. I substituted the gold trim for a white soutache (have I mentioned I LOVE soutache...?).

I started with Laughing Moon #126 as my base dress.  It fits me perfectly so I didn't need to do another fitting.  Or so I thought...

Figuring out the exact pattern of the skirt panels took longer than I'd like to admit.  It's four separate pieces sewn in a zigzag to make the criss-cross pattern.  Since I used my machine to sew it it didn't take long at all.  I started the project early thinking I would have to hand sew it, but once I figured out how to do it by machine it zipped along quite well!

Marking out the intersections with dots.

The sleeves were a bit of a puzzle.  Since I can't see the back I just sort of guessed how they were pleated.  I have to say, I truly love the affect of pleated sleeves.  I interlined them with cotton so give them a bit of body and did three panels of soutache.  It's the same pattern as the skirt, but in a smaller scale.  Again, figuring that out took longer than I'd like to admit!  I also had to angle the outside lines of trim so they'd look straight once pleated.  Man, am I glad I thought of that before sewing!

Skinnier version of the skirt detail.

The delicate sheer trim along the neckline didn't entirely turn out the way I'd like, but it'll do.  Mine didn't stick up the way I'd hoped :\

The bodice front was easy; I sewed a 3/8" piece of folded silk organza into the top edge of the bodice.  Easy peasy.  This had to be done before the trim along the top as it was too close to the seam allowance to do afterwards.

I had quite the time fitting the bodice!  I've never made the fitted version before so it was a bit of trial and error to get it to sit properly around my stays.  I have a large cup size and small band size so I often need an arm scythe dart.  I don't believe it's period appropriate, but that's what I had to do here.  See the GIANT side dart?
The neckline was WAY too high so I lowered it about an inch.  Felt like I was wearing a Regency turtle neck!

The rest of the neckline trim is just a tube of silk organza held in place by loops of ribbon.  Again, I'd like it to have a little height, but it was done the night before the ball and I was done with this dress-puzzle.

Making things up as I go!

Have you ever made a tassel?  They are quite therapeutic.  I made sure mine hung down a little to avoid a pasty look.

What the item is: 1806 Regency Gown

The Challenge: #2 Pleats and Tucks

Fabric/Materials: Poly satin, cotton/rayon soutache, cotton interlining, silk organiza

Pattern: Laughing Moon #126

Year: 1806

Notions: So. Much. Soutache. 24 yards, in fact!

How historically accurate is it? I'd say 50%-ish.  Mostly synthetic materials and I machine stitched it, but the overall look is quite close to the portrait.

Hours to complete: About 20-25.

First worn: February 27th, 2016

Total cost: $30.  I only had to buy the soutache and some thread.

Up Next:

P.S.  Look what I found!  It's a crochet turtle measuring tape.  Much delight was had by all at work the day I brought this friend to say hello.  He's even featured in a movie!