Costume College 2017!

What a week!  I am mostly recovered now, and my thoughts on the week are more or less settled.  It was a lovely time, with lovely people in lovely clothes at a lovely location.  Short version, the end.

Long version:

This was my first year teaching.  How crazy and insane is that?  This was also the first year with all-day Thursday workshops, and I ended up being one of the first teachers for the first Thursday workshops.  Yikes!

I taught “Understructures of the Victorian Skirt” as a workshop on Thursday to four students.  We got a good start on our skirts, with everyone at least getting their panels all flatlined and interlined.

Laying out Fabric

Laying out Fabric

So that was all day Thursday.  In the evening, there was the pool party.  It was Disney themed, but I didn’t feel like making anything new, so I wore my Birka Viking clothes, because Vikings–> Lords of the Sea–> Water–> Pool Party!

I'm a pretty Viking Princess!

I’m a pretty Viking Princess!

At the pool party, I met this really fantastic group of ladies, who also did not follow the Disney theme.

Vintage Star Trek!

Vintage Star Trek!

These girls are all my heroes forever.

Friday, it was hit the ground running for classes and classes!

First up, was my lecture on Victorian Knitting.  I think it was overall well received.  I really like knitwear, so this was a good time for me to share my love of wool!

Victorian Knitting

Victorian Knitting

There is a disturbing lack of knitwear in this photo, but trust me, I brought such as I have so far and would fit in my suitcase.  (Photo taken by my friend Kristina, who I finally met in person at CoCo!)

After the Knitwear class, I had a quick lunch, and ran off to my Nålbinding class.  As usual, all my students were brilliant and were able to pick it up.  I’m always very pleased with my nålbinding students.

With no time for a proper supper, it was time for the Friday night social!  (I ate something, I just can’t remember what.)

The theme was “Our Favorite Spies”.  It was so much fun to see all the spies from pop culture and history in the great hall, as well as the other characters, historical, non-historical, and more.

I wore my soutache walking suit, which still doesn’t have a blog post of its own.  I’ve mostly been gleaning photos that other people took of it from Costume College also, because I didn’t take a lot of photos, and the lighting wasn’t awesome in the public photo space.

Soutache!

Soutache!

I will never not love the back of this bodice.

I will never not love the back of this bodice.

I really kindof wish now I had made it into Shotwell booth to get a professional photo taken, not that that would help me for the blog here and now…  Oh well.

Saturday, I didn’t dress up!  For real.  I decided that for my whirlwind schedule, it would be better to be comfy and easily able to maneuver through groups of other people.

First up, I had a wonderful Victorian purse class with Lynn McMasters.  I made an acceptable purse in the end. However, as all good projects will do, it taught me more about what not to do and what to do differently than I got right the first go.

Purse!

Purse!

After my purse class I had approximately 15 minutes to run to teach my lecture on the Understructures of Victorian Skirts.  It was really well received.  I am so happy that I was able to demystify aspects of the Victorian skirt making process and the supports built in for so many people.  I may do a blog post sometime in the future.

I then went to my velvet millinery leaf class with Lynn McMasters (again!).  She is such a delightful and knowledgeable lady.  I made three serviceable leaves, and got to take home a silicone stamp for making more.  Now I’ll have to watch for the remnant sale on Silk Baron to get more velvet for more leaves!

Velvet Leaves!

Velvet Leaves!

Then it was time to get ready for the Gala!

This dress will get its own blog post soon enough, I hope.  It’s my favorite thing I’ve made to date.  Raspberry silk taffeta, lined with black cotton sateen, trimmed with black silk net, antique silk lace, and antique jet beaded motifs.  I felt incredibly regal wearing it.

1893 Raspberry Silk Evening Gown

1893 Raspberry Silk Evening Gown

1893 Raspberry Silk Evening Gown Back

1893 Raspberry Silk Evening Gown Back

There were so many other awesome dresses at the Gala.  Here are just a few of my favorites:

Pinks!

Pinks!

(Taylor and I both had pink dresses inspired by Worth gowns.  PINK!)

Rebecca's Gorgeous Blue Gown

Rebecca’s Gorgeous Blue Gown

Stripey Goodness

Stripey Goodness

I was seriously impressed with the stripe placement and fit of this gown, made by Jessica.

Lovely 1830's

Lovely 1830’s

I wish I knew who this delightful young lady is.  She really knew her stuff, and did a wonderful job on her 1830’s gown.  Her buckle is antique!

The Fluffy Skirt Gang

The Fluffy Skirt Gang

Flemish?

Flemish?

I always really like seeing well done clothing from the lower classes of history.  It wasn’t all glitz and jewels, it was actually mostly sturdy wools and linens, in case we’ve forgotten.  But that didn’t mean people were sloppy or ill-dressed either.

Gorgeous 60's Gown

Gorgeous 60’s Gown

So I’ve never liked the fashion of the 60’s.  Never, until Costume College this year.  There was so much of it so well done, that I was warming to it.  When I saw this dress though, worn so well by the other Kelsey, it completely won me over.  It’s kinda like you see random abandoned bits of 60’s furniture in your grandparents’ basements, and think “ugh, how could anyone like this?”  Then you see a room done well all in 60’s and suddenly, you understand why it was a thing.  Kelsey showed me exactly how and why 60’s fashion was a thing.

Roomies!

Roomies!

Sunday was a lazy day for me.  I went to only two classes, one on Byzantine Clothing, and one on kilts.  I did dress up, but in stuff I wear all the time at Stuhr.  As such, it’s comfortable for me to wear, and actually only took 10 minutes to dress in.

1890's Waist and Skirt

1890’s Waist and Skirt

1890's Waist and Skirt

1890’s Waist and Skirt

Monday, before I went to the airport, was fabric district day!

Home Fabrics, Land of Silk

Home Fabrics, Land of Silk

First stop was Home Fabrics.  It’s a wonderland.  I restrained myself pretty well, considering most of the silk on the second floor was only $6 a yard.  I got enough blue plaid for another silk shirtwaist, and some pink stripe and green stripe for a couple of Gibson Girl style vests for myself and a friend.  (She gets the pink!)

The second stop was a trim store.  I was looking for some specific trim for a 90’s wrapper, but they didn’t really have it.  They had some that looked similar, but it was pretty plasticy.  Maybe I’ll just have to be insane and weave some.

Trims Galore!

Trims Galore!

The final stop was B. Black and Sons.  They have been one of my favorite places to order from online for years– I used to order whole bolts of wool flannel when I was doing Viking orders.  It was a magical kingdom of wool, wool, and more wool.  I really love wool.  I didn’t buy any wool though, because I might have a glut of it at home.  Just maybe.

B. Black and Sons

B. Black and Sons

Fun fact: B. Black and Sons was founded the same year my house was built.  Also, all those movie posters are movies and shows they have provided wool for.  (I told them they need to find a poster for The Originals.)

Then it was time to go to the airport and fly home.  Travel went well, everything arrived mostly undamaged at the airport in Omaha, and I flopped into bed incredibly late.  (I’m always very afraid of my luggage not arriving.)

Costume College Haul

Costume College Haul

I got a nice little variety of items to bring home.  The fashion plates were a steal, actually– I got them two for one at the very end of the day in the Costume College Marketplace.

I hope you enjoyed all my pictures and tales of my shenanigans!  Until the next time I’m actually able to put down the sewing and write!

Published in: on August 9, 2017 at 12:00 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Ageless Patterns 1889 Cooking Apron

Ageless Patterns 1767

1899 Cooking Apron from Ageless Patterns

Last Christmas time, Kay at Stuhr Museum lent me this apron pattern.  I had just made a white apron from the National Garment cutter, and she thought I should make another apron for wear at Stuhr.

Who doesn’t need another apron?  Really.  Aprons are pretty necessary when you’re in the past.

So I held onto it for a while, waiting for the right fabric to show up, because cambric, much less figured cambric, isn’t really available anymore.  Around January, I bought some Civil War print calico from my friend Christine, and she included a two yard piece of some fantastic dark blue and white print that would be appropriate for the 1890’s.  I didn’t even think of putting the two together until late March.  Silly me.  As you can see, the description of the original apron says “Figured Cambric with a Navy Blue Ground is the material of which this apron is made.  The edges are piped with Red…”

Once I finally decided the fabric should become the apron, I had a bit of a problem.  The pattern calls for 3 1/2 yards of 32″ wide fabric, and I had two yards of 45″.  I decided the only way to make it work was to cut it on the cross grain, which is not recommended.  (That makes the garment less likely to wear well.)  But I did it.  And, it ended up about 6″ shorter than I would have liked.  I had to cut the flounce for the bottom mostly in extremely short sections, but I got it all!

Leftover Fabric Pieces

This is all the fabric that was left.

So, the front of the bib has a little section that is piped, which also makes the front a bit stiffer.  I learned that one should wait until you attach the shoulder straps to pipe the top edge.

1889 Cooking Apron

Piped Front Section

The pattern calls for this bit to be embroidered as well, but I decided this was really enough.

The rest of the apron went together fairly smoothly, but I’ll mention a few key bits:

Like most patterns from Ageless Patterns, there isn’t a lot of instructions. There’s just one size, not specified, which seems to be about mine. (34″ bust, 26″ waist. ) I made my apron shorter than I would have liked, due to fabric restrictions.

The amount of piping required is not specified either. I think I used about 8-9 yards, which is a lot. I had to make more several times because I kept underestimating how much I really needed.

The pattern pieces go together well, but judging by how they do, I think you could take off the 5/8″ seam allowance and sew the pieces together with a 1/2″ seam allowance and be fine. Coincidentally, this makes the pieces fit within the original specification for fabric width. (32″).

The front panel of the apron is gathered.  This is achieved by sewing a casing on the inside with two channels, and running tapes through and tying them at each end.  This makes the front very adjustable, so this apron might be a good bet for maternity or for wear by different people IF you also add extra buttonholes to the belt.  My belt is maxed out.  I gave it a buttonhole, but mostly because I was supposed to.

1889 Cooking Apron

Gathers on Inside

1889 Cooking Apron

Front of Belt. I really like little china buttons.

I used little china buttons with pie crust edges for my apron, because I like them, and a while back I got a pile of them for cheap on Etsy.  I need to look for some a little large though, for aprons and such.

The side seam, which you should align with the side middle of the belt, is the seam where the back panels of the skirt attach to the rest of the apron.  NOT the vertical darts which appear to be side seams on the main front piece.  If you sew the apron with the dart aligned as side seam, the whole thing pulls funny around the hips.  I had to take it apart and redo.

1889 Cooking Apron

The whole apron from the front, before buttons. Fun little gathered pocket!

1889 Cooking Apron Back

This was figuring out the straps before doing buttonholes and buttons.

1889 Cooking Apron Back Closure

Lots of china buttons.

Overall, this is a good apron pattern, even if all the piping is a bit fussy.  8/10, would make again.  (But would probably make the yet-unreviewed Garment Cutter apron first– it gets a 9.)

Thanks for reading, and as always, let me know if you have any questions!

Published in: on April 23, 2016 at 12:58 pm  Comments (2)  
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An 1869-1870 Work Dress

Some time ago, I was asked to help at Rock Creek Station for the Oregon Trail Day that is put on for 4th graders studying Nebraska History.  Rock Creek Station is a place where there was a bridge over a river for travelers on the Oregon trail, was a Pony Express Station for a time, a stage coach station for a while, and of course, where Wild Bill Hickok killed his first man.

I did not have a dress both appropriate to the era of the Oregon Trail and suitable for working outside demonstrating spinning and weaving, so I decided to make one.  (Both of the dresses I have appropriate for the range of years the Oregon Trail was in use are fancy.)  My friend Marna very kindly drafted a pattern for me off an original dress she had, and I proceeded to scale it up to my size (the original wearer was very short– maybe 4’8″), and adjust it to fit.  I also ordered in a dark calico with a bright paisley pattern appropriate to the 1860’s.  I decided to go with a more 1860’s aesthetic over all, rather than 1870’s, so I would be able to wear it at Stuhr Museum in the 1860’s cabin as well.

Basically, I sewed it with Victorian speed sewing techniques– which you’ll have to take my word for, because I didn’t really take pictures as I went.  The neck, sleeves, and cuffs are piped, and the cuffs are sewn in such a way that the facing flips to the outside, finishing the edge and making a decorative band all at once.  The flounce on the skirt is sewn with a bias band on the outside, machine stitched down, finishing the seam and creating reinforcement all at once.  The hem is machine done– pretty much everything but the neckline facing and hooks and eyes are done by machine.  This is how the original was done– as soon as our ancestors had sewing machines, they used them as much as they could!

1860's Dress Collar

The Collar

Oh yeah– I made a bonnet too.  It’s appropriately historically awful, but a real wonderful thing to have on your head in the sun.  Verdict: these may look rather horrible, but they need to come back.  This one is corded in bands, and then starched within an inch of its life.  Starch is an absolute must.

The Ugly 1860's Corded Bonnet

The Ugly Bonnet

I didn’t get many pictures when I was at Rock Creek Station back in September, but I did go out with my husband later and get some really good photos at the park.

All Ready for Work, 1860's Dress

All Ready for Work

But I'm Reading Tennyson Instead

But I’m Reading Tennyson Instead

I wore my sontag too, for pictures, and a plain pleated apron.  The apron has a good deal of grime already worn into the bottom of the hem.

I picked Tennyson’s Poems to carry as a prop because I read a book in high school about a pioneer girl in Nebraska, and she memorized a poem by Tennyson– “The Eagle”.  It seemed appropriate.

Oh, Tennyson. . . 1860's Work Dress

Oh, Tennyson. . .

I'm reading about Lady Claire, I think. 1860's Work Dress

I’m reading about Lady Claire, I think.

A Good Close Shot to Show the Pleats

A Good Close Shot to Show the Pleats

Relaxing in the Leaves

Relaxing in the Leaves

Side View, 1860's Work Dress

Side View

Back View, 1860's Work Dress

Back View

This is where I pause to enumerate my historical undies, because almost none of them are correct for this time, but I made it work.  1860’s Chemise and Drawers, 1890’s Corded Corset, 1840’s Bustle Pad, 1840’s starched petticoats.  I really long for a small hoop, after my day at Rock Creek.

The Park is Alive, With the Sound of Music!

The Park is Alive, With the Sound of Music!

Running Through the Greenwood

Running Through the Greenwood

My dear husband had me running and running all over to get a good shot of me running.  I usually look ridiculous when I run.  I am just not a runner.  But I like this shot.  It shows how much mobility you do have in a corset and long skirt.

It just so happened that this fit into the Heirlooms and Heritage Challenge for The Historical Sew Monthly, so here are the details!

What the item is: Late 1860’s Work Dress

The Challenge: Heirlooms and Heritage

Pattern: Drafted off an original in the collection of Marna Davis, greatly enlarged because the original was for a tiny lady.

Year: 1868-ish.

Fabric: 7 yards of cotton calico.

Notions: Thread, hooks and eyes.

How historically accurate is it? I did everything the way the original was made. This is probably 95%, accounting for fabric made in a modern way.

Hours to complete: 20

First worn: For an Oregon Trail day at Rock Creek Station, doing spinning and weaving demos for fourth graders.

Total cost: $36 for fabric, $5 for hooks and eyes. $41 total.

This is a heritage piece because Rock Creek Station and the Oregon Trail are a big part of my state’s (Nebraska) history. Also, my dad’s ancestors came to Nebraska in the 1850’s, so it is possible one of them might have worn such a dress.

And for the bonnet, which fit under the Brown Challenge:

What the item is: Corded Bonnet

The Challenge: Brown

Fabric: 100% cotton fabric, 1 yard

Pattern: The Godey’s 1850’s corded bonnet pattern, plus tips from the Sewing Academy and my own alterations from pictures of originals of the 1860’s.

Year: 1860’s

Notions: Thread, twill tape, starch.

How historically accurate is it? 85% I don’t know. It’s the right shape, but the fabric is a little iffy. But it was $3 a yard at Walmart so. . .

Hours to complete: Five. There is lots of cording. Then it took 7 hours to dry after starching.

First worn: For an Oregon Trail day at Rock Creek Station, at which I taught fourth graders about spinning and weaving.

Total cost: $6, if I bought it all for project. Some was stash.

Running Towards the Camera

Running Towards the Camera

Thanks for reading, and as always, let me know if you have any questions!

 

An 1840’s Summer Dress

This year, as I have told you before, I am participating in the Historical Sew Monthly.  The challenge for March was “Stashbusting”, meaning you had to use ONLY items from your stash.  I took that to mean items which I have had for a year or more.  Right away, I knew what I wanted to make!

Last year, I was at Hancock Fabrics getting some muslin or something, and as is my habit I was browsing the economy fabric section when a bolt of fabric caught my eye.  100% cotton in a charming print that just looked like it stepped out of the 1840’s, only $3 a yard regular price!  To make things even better, I had a coupon for 50% off any piece of fabric at regular price!  So I went home with 8 yards and only a vague idea of an 1840’s dress.

I commenced to research, and after a long stint of gazing at original dresses on Pinterest and comparing them to original patterns, I bought the Laughing Moon 114 Mercantile Fan Front Dress pattern.  I had everything together and I had a plan!  Except then we moved, and life got really busy, and the fabric just sat on my shelf, and waited.

Fabric and a Pattern

Fabric and a Pattern

So when I heard the challenge for March was “Stashbusting”, I knew I had to pull that fabric out and start that dress

But first I had to find that ONE dress that inspired me, that I wanted to take cues from and design features from to make the perfect dress,

Original 1840's Dress

Original 1840’s Dress

This dress, in a private collection and pictured on an auction site, fit the bill nicely.  I loved the opening at the front neck, and the little ruffles on the mancherons.  I was less a fan of the poofy lower sleeves though.  I absolutely LOVED the flat pleating for the fan front.  It just seemed more my speed than the frilly smocking at the front of many fan front dresses.

So then I had a plan.  Now I just had to put it into effect.

First, as all good seamstresses should, I made a mockup.  I traced and cut the pattern to the size suggested on the pattern envelope, only to find it was far too large in the waist.  This is why you always make a mock-up!  I was able to take in the darts on the final lining then, and properly fit the bodice to the lining.  I also boned the darts with spiral steel boning, because I feel it is closest to whalebone, having carefully felt the flex of the real thing on an antique once before.  (Cutting out the dress was only interesting in that I had to cut the right and left bias sleeves the opposite directions.)

Fan Front in the Making

Fan Front in the Making

Pleating the fan front was far easier than I thought it would be, and it went together nicely.  You can see the beginning of the partial front opening here too.

Next step was to put the whole bodice together.  This involved far more piping then I ever thought it would.  I had to make more.  First time I’ve ever had to make more piping.  My last two dresses with piping I had feet and feet left over.  (This time I piped the shoulder seams, the armscyes, the ends of the mancherons (short sleeves) above the ruffle, the long seam on the sleeves, the neckline, and the bottom edge.)

Piping Bodice Edge

Piping Bodice Edge

To finish the seams, since the bodice fabric was applied to the lining and then sewn together, I sewed bias strips over the seams.  Not the fastest way to finish seams but definitely very neat!

Finishing Seams

Finishing Seams

Finally, I had the bodice together, less sleeves.  Time for a fitting!

Fitting Selfie

Fitting Selfie

Yep.  Seems close!  (Actually, this picture is prior to the piping, it seems.  I tested the fit before and after, and after sleeves.)

So then, sleeves.  First step was to make the mancherons.

Mancherons!

Mancherons!

Let me take just a moment to talk about mancherons.  If you look up mancheron, you will see that it is either a sleeve used as a charge in French heraldry, or that it is an ornamental trimming on the upper part of a sleeve.  The latter definition more aptly applies here.  In the late 1830’s it was the style to either “band down” the great big poofiness at the tops of the puffed sleeves or to have a narrow upper sleeve connected to a poofy lower sleeve.  By the 1840’s this upper sleeve seems to have detached itself and become its own entity, known as the Mancheron.  Mancherons were a thing through much of the 1840’s, with many variations, though they were mostly (but not always) tight around the sleeve.  They were a place where one could add more lace or trim, and sometimes confined a more poofy lower sleeve.

I decided to add a little ruffle and more piping to mine, like in the original dress that inspired me, but I decided against the zig-zag lower edge.  I lined my mancherons with white muslin to enclose the piping and ruffle edge, and everything looked nice!

Now the actual sleeves.  I basted down the piping, and sewed my seams with the recommended seam allowance, and WOW!  They were way too big and just not flattering!  So I pinned them on my arm to get an idea for the tightness and took them way in, and WOW!  They were just too tight!  (I was doing this to just one sleeve.  Get one side right then copy onto the other side.)  So I let out the seam a measly 1/8″ and they were just right.  (And Goldilocks smiled at the sleeves and decided to keep them for herself.)  Every adjustment on these sleeves meant ripping off the piping again too.  Of course all this adjusting meant that my sleeves were just that much smaller than the mancherons, so I basted them together, easing the mancherons to the sleeve.  Good thing they were cut on the bias!

With my sleeves assembled, I sewed them into the strangely shaped armscyes of my bodice, using a zipper foot because of the piping.  It all went together smoothly, relatively.  Time for a fitting!  Well, I had to let out the back closure just a bit because sleeves change a lot of things, but it was all good!  So now, the skirt.

First I sewed my skirt seams.

Find the Seam

Find the Seam

I used mad pattern matching skills.  I had to take a very narrow seam on the edges of the fabric, as otherwise I would have lost quite a bit of the width of my fabric.  My skirt was three panels 60 inches wide, and either I would have had a lot of seam finishing, or I could make a careful narrow seam.  As the fabric had a very firm but not bulky woven selvedge, I went with a narrow seam.  It was barely 1/4″.  (In my defense, many original dresses have very narrow skirt seams as well.)

I had been fussing a bit over how to do the pleats on the skirt. The top edge of the skirt was straight, and the pattern recommended pleating it and sewing it to the waistline of the dress.  But I wanted the pleats to fan out from the point of the bodice like in so many extant dresses.  Then, I saw a wonderful video from Historical Sewing (http://historicalsewing.com/)  in which Jennifer was explaining how she intended to get her cartridge-pleated skirt to follow the bottom edge of her 1840’s bodice. (I’m not copying her, I swear!)  (You can find her video here: https://www.facebook.com/video.php?v=879267112131364&theater )  So, I followed Jennifer’s lead and pressed down the top edge of my skirt for the cartridge pleats, pressing the top fold deeper at the front where the front point was.  I measured how deep the point was below the waist line and made my fold that much deeper in the center, but the width was an exercise in “That looks about right”.  I did have the points for the side seams marked into the skirt, so I was just right, actually.

Stitching the Cartridge Pleats

Stitching the Cartridge Pleats

I ended up doing three rows of stitching for my cartridge pleats.  It took me about four evening to get them all done.

Then came the fun part– gathering up the pleats and attaching the skirt to the bodice!

Stitching Pleats Down

Stitching Pleats Down

Before I stitched the pleats down, I gathered them up, laid the skirt flat with the hem level, and held up the bodice to make sure the top edge was right– it was perfect!  So I started sewing the pleats down, one at a time.  As you can see, I made my pleats quite small and close together.  I counted and I had about 25 per inch in the back half and 20 per inch in the front half.  I had the same amount of fullness in the skirt all around, but there was more distance for the same number of pleat in the front due to the slope of the bodice point.

After stitching them down on the inside, I blind stitched every other pleat to the piping on the outside for a perfect effect.

All Stitched Down

All Stitched Down

This section took me about 5 hours, from gathering to skirt all the way on.

Now, I am a chicken, and I never hem skirts until I have them attached to my waistband because I am afraid I will make them the right length, so I measured and pressed the hem, using a different dress I knew was the right length and is worn over the same petticoats as a guide.  I laid them on the floor one on top of the other.  Simple but effective.  I opted to make this dress half an inch longer than the other dress.  At this point, it was Tuesday morning, and it was the final day of the Stashbusting challenge, so I had to hurry!  I sewed up the deep hem, sewed on hooks and made thread eyes, and finished the cuffs of the sleeves.  (They ended in little slits with hooks at the bottom so I can open them if needed and get my hand through when putting on the dress.)  As soon as my husband got home from work, I pressed the whole dress, got dressed, grabbed my handmade 1830’s-1840’s shoes and an old book for a prop, and we walked to the park to take photos!

(Let me just say here that my dear husband, Philip Patton is a wonderful photographer, and all of the photos that follow are his work and copyrighted by him.)

Perfect Hour of Sunset

Perfect Hour of Sunset

This was the first photo we took.  Up to this point, I had not seen myself in the dress, as I had put on the undergarments upstairs and the dress downstairs, where there was no mirror.  I was very pleased to see a nearly perfect 1840’s bell-shape silhouette!

Back

Back

Side

Side

I am wearing under this dress my 1830’s bloomers, my old 1840’s chemise from my first year of college (The 1830’s chemise has poofy sleeves which  won’t fit under the tight sleeves of this dress.), my old Silverado Bust Gore Corset I made when I was 16 going on 17 (still fits, but then again that is after I stopped growing), my tucked petticoat with lace, my corded petticoat, and my flounced crinoline and organdy petticoat.  No corset cover.  The bodice doesn’t really require one.

Ankles!

Ankles!

Also, my mustard stockings.  You can also see my handmade shoes in action here.

So Romantic

So Romantic

Looking at the Book

Looking at the Book

Hi!

Sigh…

I Feel Lovely

I Feel Lovely

It was the hardest thing to keep those little sections of hair over my ears.  I could hardly stand it.

Golden Light

Golden Light

Bodice Front Detail

Bodice Front Detail

Piping!

Piping!

Piping and Pleats!

Piping and Pleats!

Reading the Psalm Book

Reading the Psalm Book

This is a very sweet old Swedish Psalm Book I have, published in 1884.  (Yep, too late for this dress!)  It has in it the standard Scripture and Hymns for every Sunday of the year.  I just so happened to open it right up to the reading for Easter in this photo.

Also, these are my favorite sleeves I’ve yet done, I think.  I love everything about them!

So, as this is for the Historical Sew Monthly, I suppose I should give you the facts!

Challenge #3, Stashbusting!

What the item is: An 1840’s Summer Dress

The Challenge: Stashbusting!

Fabric: Lightweight 100% Cotton Print

Stashed for how long?: About a year.

Pattern: Laughing Moon Fan Front Dress, altered to my own liking.

Year: 1840’s.

Notions: Thread, hooks, spiral steel boning.

How historically accurate is it? I did a LOT of handsewing on this dress. A lot more than I typically do. The print I think is close enough, and I was inspired for the bodice pleats and frills on the sleeves by an original dress. I did use a machine for the long seams, though. 85-90%?

Hours to complete: Considering I spent about 5 hours on just attaching the skirt to the bodice, I don’t even want to know. I would guess 40+.

First worn: For pictures!

Total cost: Drumroll…. At $1.50 a yard for the fabric, the pattern cost more than everything else combined. $35 total. Ish.

Happy Easter!

Happy Easter!

If you have any questions or comments, I’d love to hear them and answer!  Thanks for reading!

 

A Plaid 1830 Dress!

A couple of years ago, I ordered in seven yards of silk taffeta for a dress for a customer.  It was a glorious blue and yellow plaid.  I whacked off a yard to send to them for a hat, only to be informed that they had wanted a different fabric.  Cue lots of furious rush-ordering to get the proper fabric in, and the taffeta languished on my shelf, bereft of meaning.  I offered it to several customers, with nary a taker.  None of them wanted such a loud fabric.

Then, I found this dress, made in 1830 and housed in the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

1971.47.1ab_F

Plaid Dress

1971.47.1ab_TQL

Dress Back

Suddenly, that silk had a purpose!  It would be six months between discovering that dress and making my own, but at least I had a plan.

Fast forward to the first week of August, 2014.  I just finished moving from Minnesota back to lovely Nebraska, and was in fact still unpacking the house and starting to get burnt out by boxes.  “Hey self,” I said to myself, “how about you make that dress you’ve been wanting to make?”  So I dug out my other 1830’s pattern, that I know fits me, and a bunch of paper and mock-up muslin, and got to work!

I took flat patterning in college.  Figuring out the pleats in the bodice was not difficult, but getting the neckline sorted was another story.  I checked, and counted, and there are nine pleats in the front, with only seven going into the shoulder, and there are five pleats in the back.  So far as I can tell, in the original the pleats are an overlay blindstitched down. Easy enough, right?  Well, for starters, I had about an hour of counting and recounting pleats on zoomed-in images before I was finally satisfied that there are different numbers of pleats on the front and back at the shoulder.  At least I don’t have to line them up, right?

Secondly, I put my brown dress on the dress form and used string to mark out a tentative neckline.  Thinking it looked good, I made markings on a copy of my pattern and started cutting.  I then made a mock-up.  WRONG.

Eeek.

Mock-up number one!

Well, my pleat technique was obviously right.  (I flat patterned that.  No draping for me!  Yes, I started taking draping in college too, but I dropped that class because my schedule was too full.  I should learn how some day…)  But the neckline was too narrow, and the pleats looked too narrow because of the angle.

So I started chopping and rotating on my pattern, til I came up with a mock-up that suited me.  I never did put it completely together, because really, what’s the point?

I have clipped a pattern piece for the lining to it for safekeeping.

Random View of my Sewing and Weaving Room with the Final Mock-up In It

(For the pleated overlay, I made pieces the shape of my finished piece, then slashed them where I wanted the pleat edges to be and spread them and taped them to a new piece of paper.  It was easy.)

(I also used my final mock-up for the lining.  Waste not, want not.)

So then it was on to cutting the fabric.  Yikes.  Cutting silk is always a little nervewracking.  Cutting plaid is plenty nervewracking, even though I can do it with the best of them.  Cutting a silk plaid that you can never get more of was worse.  But I made it through!

If you look closely at the original, the two front pieces of the bodice proper are cut, well, not on the bias, but not on grain either.  Just at a pretty angle.  Well, I can do that too!

Cutting out the Bodice

Cutting out the Bodice

I cut two of these.  Yay!

The rest of the bodice pieces went easily enough, then it was time for the sleeves!

Most of the fine ladies on The Historical Sew Fortnightly had agreed with me that the sleeves on the original dress were two pieces, but then, I found a pattern in “The Workwoman’s Guide” that looked pretty darn close. Like almost identical close.

Circle Sleeve

Circle Sleeve

The instructions in “The Workwoman’s Guide” are as follows:

THE CIRCULAR LONG SLEEVE

This takes rather more of the material than the other shapes, but it is so easily cut out, and looks so well when made up, that it is allowed a place here.

For the full size it is a perfect circle, in a square of about 15 nails.  (A nail is about 2.25 inches.)

After the circle is formed, double it in half (see Fig. 8); measure at A B a sufficient width to admit of the wrist, and slit up, in a slightly curving line, from B to C for about 4 nails, to form the arm of the sleeve.   A little of the circle, from E towards B, is then sloped off to form the hollowing.

When made up, this part E is all taken up and gathered into the shoulder strap.  It is considered to hang particularly well, falling over the tight part of the sleeve (see Fig. 7).  

This seems quite a bit easier than a two-piece sleeve to me.

So, I made a tiny sleeve to test it.  It worked!  So I cut my silk.  I was pretty trusting of this pattern.

Circle Sleeves

Circle Sleeves

Close-up of the Curved Cut

Close-up of the Curved Cut

After cutting out the waistband and the skirt (one panel, full width of fabric, 90-some inches long) and TONS of bias tape in differing sizes, I was ready to sew!

First step: lots of piping.  I made piping in two sizes and it took a while.

For the back, I just basted the curved panel on, since there would be a bias strip covering the raw edge.

Back Piece Step One

Back Piece Step One

Then I hand-tacked the bias tape down on the back pieces, covering the seam.

Bias Tape on the Back

Bias Tape on the Back

Most dresses of this time frame seem to have piping on the back, but this one had a bias strip.  It makes sense, actually.

Then I pleated and tacked down the back pleats.

Back Pleats

Back Pleats

Then I sewed together the front pieces and made the pleated overlay for the front.  I sprayed my silk with a mixture of water and white vinegar to set the pleats and it worked like a charm!

Pleated Overlay

Pleated Overlay

Here you can see how well the front seam matches.  The front seam that will never be seen.

Matching Front Seam

Matching Front Seam

From this point on, I have only two construction photos, but I will still explain my process.

I sewed all bodice pieces together and did a preliminary fitting to check the neckline.  So far, so good.

Bodice Fitting

Bodice Fitting

I think I bound the top edge with piping and bias tape at this point, before I did the sleeves.  Of course, I also put piping around the armscyes.

Then I pleated and repleated and repleated the sleeves until they fit the armscyes.  Literally, I pleated them about six times.  And even though the sleeves were equal size and the armholes were equal sized and I was measuring pleats, one sleeve had to be tweaked a bit to make it fit right.  Not that you can tell from the outside.

Bodice with Sleeves

Bodice with Sleeves

See?  The bodice is all finished except for the ends of the sleeves and the hooks and eyes up the back.

After this, I hand-finished the cuffs with a narrow rolled hem and added hooks and thread eyes to close them.

Then, I made a wide waistband with large piping on each side.  I attached it to the bodice, then pleated the skirt to fit the waistband.  (I handfinished the placket and hand felled the skirt seam first.)

Then I gave the skirt a great deep hem.  I think it was 8″ .  No facing, just a deep hem.  That’s what the original seemed to have.

The last thing was the hooks and thread eyes all down the back.

Then I was done!

Of course, then I had to get all dressed up, and my husband and I went down to the park for some photos.  I brought my 1830’s shoes with me intending to wear them for the pictures, but it was pretty damp so I never did put them on,  I just held them while wearing my modern business heels.  Tee-hee.

 

1830's Dress

1830’s Dress

I really should have made the back closure a little tighter.  If I ever wear it again, I’ll add new thread eyes further in.  It kept slipping off my shoulders and slipping down.  Ooops.

1830's Dress

Back

1830's Dress

I’m holding my shoes!

Actually, holding my shoes gives a pretty good effect.

1830's Dress

Look, I have shoes that I’m not wearing!

1830's Dress

Droopy Hair

Fun fact:  I actually spent a great deal of time on my hair.  I had perfect ringlets, but as it was August in Nebraska, they fell out right away.  That was before I knew about curl papers.  Phooey.

1830's Dress

Back Detail. There is much piping!

 

1830's Dress

Happy That It’s Done!  Sad That My Hair Drooped!

The next day, after these photos were taken, I brought this dress to the Nebraska State Fair.  There I won Best in Division, Best in Show, and Best Sewn Garment!  (Lots of prizes!)  My 1830’s work dress which I have yet to show you won best garment of quilting cotton too!

Thanks for reading about my 1830’s dress, and please ask if you have any questions!

Published in: on December 4, 2014 at 10:21 pm  Comments (9)  
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Ravensborg Return of the Sun 2012!

The Edge of the Mead Hall

The Edge of the Mead Hall

This past Friday, I loaded up the car with my Viking chest and food and wool blankets and sewing stuff and Icelandic wool and my spinning basket and lots of weird shoes and a giant wooden bowl and apple cider and Dr. Pepper and a couple energy drinks and my friend Jessica and her bags and we went on a 6-hour drive to Knox City, Missouri and Ravensborg Viking Longphort.  (I thought it was a longfort, or a fortress, but nope, everyone is saying longphort this year.  It’s the cool thing to do.)  There were a lot of people there this year, but not as many as there have been other years.  I guess the high price of gas is getting to everyone.  I mean, really, only four people from all of Skjaldborg came.  Still, I can’t complain with 26-ish people.

Friday evening, we settled in and got our sleeping area set up, and met some new people and caught up with old friends.  Jessica was dead tired, having just gotten done working a temp job that also happened to be night shift, but I stayed up late, finishing a few sewing projects by candlelight.

Sleepy Jessica

Sleepy Jessica

Sewing Sewing Sewing

Sewing Sewing Sewing

This is my favorite shot of the weekend.

This is my favorite shot of the weekend. I'm sewing tablet weaving trim on the edge of my new apron dress.

The next morning, we got up fairly early to clean up the longhouse before the public started arriving to see the phort and the displays (us).  There was a Viking craft contest, and I entered several things– John’s caftan, a pair of hand-woven legbands, a piece of tablet-woven trim, my new apron dress, and the Viking belt pouch and belt I made a couple falls ago.  I also collaborated with John and Chris for the new Skjaldborg Boar Banner.  I made the windsock part, out of red silk.  The local art teacher judged all the entries, but we had no idea who won anything until the feast that night.  (More on that later.)

So Jessica and I sat and wove and spun for a while, then we heard the men were going to fight.  No sooner did we get over there and find a good spot to sit and watch, then they all clamored for us to join them.  So we changed into our fighting clothes, and joined the fray!

Valkyries!

Valkyries!

Yes, Jessica has a lavender tunic.  Also, yes, I haven’t yet put on my legbands in this picture. Shush. I realize that.

Jessica may possibly be the most amusing fighter I have yet seen.  She swings wildly, with a saex too heavy for her, hardly able to lift a shield, and shrieks and giggles and jumps away from her opponents the entire time she fights.  The crowd loves her!  I think a lot of the people watching sympathize with her in a way that they can’t with the expert warriors like John and Chris.  Jessica is an inexpert warrior, doing the best she can, and having a fun time with it.  They can put themselves in her shoes more easily than they can do so with John or Chris.  (Who are awesome.)

For the shield walls, we split up mostly into those wearing mail and those not.  Those of us without mail outnumbered those with, but we still lost a LOT.

Resting

Resting

The rest of the afternoon, I changed back into proper women’s clothes and worked alternately on my tablet weaving and spinning, since all my sewing was done.

This is Phil.  He took a lot of pictures this weekend.

This is Phil. He took a lot of pictures this weekend.

After a while, I asked Philip Patton, a phenomenal photographer with an awesome camera if I could get him to take some pictures of me in my Viking clothes, since, well, I don’t have any good recent pictures of my kit, due to a poor camera, poor camera people, and usually running my camera myself.  He was happy to oblige (or at least I hope he was) and I finally got some wonderful shots for my portfolio!

Swedish Work Dress

Swedish Work Dress

With Yrsa

With Yrsa

New Dress!

New Dress!

I made a new dress.  The underdress is white linen.  I plan to pleat it finely in the next few weeks.  The overdress is silk, and the apron dress is fine wool, edged with tablet weaving.  After all this time making good clothes for others, I finally have good clothing for myself!

Ready for the Feast!

Ready for the Feast!

Fight!  Fight!  Fight!

Fight! Fight! Fight!

Oh hej, I didn't see you there. . .

Oh hej, I didn't see you there. . .

Best Friends!

Best Friends!

She's the cutest!

She's the cutest!

Boar Banner Shot.  I am so in love with this series of photographs.

Boar Banner Shot. I am so in love with this series of photographs.

This is Where I Want to Be Right Now

This is Where I Want to Be Right Now

After photos, we had the feast!  We ate lots and lots of food, including the photogenic greens, and had an all-around good time which included folk dances and trophies. (!) Skjaldborg cleaned up the trophies, with Jessica, yes, Jessica, winning Best Warrior Showmanship, Chris winning Viking Craftsmanship for Category A (items completely from scratch), and I won Viking Craftsmanship for Category B, which was for items with some element not made by oneself.  My Viking Belt Pouch won.  Not surprised, actually.  It’s a good pouch.

I won a trophy!

This is Olaf.  He says I did a good job. He weighs 12 pounds.

This is Olaf. He says I did a good job. He weighs 12 pounds.

It was a wonderful weekend, but it was over far too quickly.  The next morning, I got up with a couple of the others far too early and just sat by the fire, warming my feet and wishing the weekend would go on forever.  But life is life, and time keeps moving, so all too soon I had to rouse Jessica from the bed and pack up our belongings and leave.  My bedroom smells like woodsmoke, and heaven only knows I do sleep better in my own bed, but there is such a sense of peace at Ravensborg, away from the modern world. . . Maybe heaven will be like that.  A good feast with friends, but without the sad morning afterwards, knowing you have to leave again now for a few months.

Group Shot!

Group Shot!

It was wonderful to see everyone, and I can’t wait til Tivoli!

Published in: on April 24, 2012 at 10:34 pm  Comments (1)  
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So now I’ve got a blog. . .

And I’m not sure what, exactly, to talk about.

I like costumes.  I like to make costumes.  And it hurts me a little inside when someone who should know better does a terrible job on a costume.  Case in point:  “As You Like It” last night.  Rosalind’s first dress was heinous.  I’m sorry, but it was.  In a play where everyone else was wearing clothes from the 1780’s, she was wearing a dress from the 1580’s.  This would be like me wearing my empire dress to a party here in Lincoln, or some guy wearing a tricorn around for fun today.  It does not work.  Plus, the colors were horrible, and the style was terribly unflattering on this girl.  I felt so sorry for her, but what can one do?   The rest of the costumes in that play were AWESOME, especially for “Mosieur Le Beau” and “Touchstone”.

In other news, I made a Roman dress a few weeks ago, based off of Gladiator.  Pictures below.

 

Lucilla's Gold Dress

The dress I based mine on.

 

Roman Dress

My Roman Dress, after a week of sewing.

Apparently, I still need to work on Roman posture and walking.  I don’t see how Lucilla does it. . .
Published in: on November 15, 2008 at 6:32 pm  Comments (7)  
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