Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Costume tiaras

I have many titles...The Beguiler, The Ruiner, Tiara Pusher

So in that vein I would like to share my source for all my tiaras.  Seperwar at Ebay.  Hands down the best collection of affordable historically inspired tiaras I've ever come across.

Here is the Gloucester tiara c. 1913 for the Duchess of Gloucester

Here is the tiara available for $33.95 from Seperwar:

Here is the Queen Mary Fringe tiara:

Here is the tiara available from Seperwar for $35.95:

The Prussian tiara given to Princess Victoria Louise in 1913: 

Here is the tiara available from Seperwar for $29.95:

There are a dozen more, so go get yourself some affordable bling.  Even if the only place you have to wear it is in your living room while watching Downton Abbey!

Speaking of Downton Abbey, doesn't that tiara on the Marchioness of Flintshire look familiar?

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Kat Does the 1860s

Remember how I said "never say never"?  Yeah, I used to say I'd never do 1860s...until I met a group of ladies who love 1860s and wanted to go to Gettysburg for the 150th anniversary of the Gettysburg Address.  A whole new era means weeks of research to see what fabrics to use and how gowns were shaped and constructed.  Whew!

I had to start with the undies.  I bought a hoop online because it was cheaper than making it...shhh!

I made flannel drawers using Simplicity 2890.  Went together very easily!

The chemise is the Simplicity 9769.  Let's just say I found the sleeves and gusset VERY challenging.  I need to take good care of this chemise as I will never construct another using that pattern.  Turned out super cute, though, and was very comfortable.

I needed a cold weather day dress as it was in mid November and mostly outside.  I chose a mulberry moire bengaline with a curly lamb's wool trim and used Simplicity 4400 View B.  Lots of hand sewing and pleating in that skirt!  The bonnet is Butterick B4210 in black velvet lined in white silk.  Green moire ribbon from Timely Tresses, and paper flowers by the wonderful Damesalamode on Etsy

We were attending a ball, so I needed a ballgown.  I bought the Past Patterns 1860s ballgown bodice, but had too much trouble trying to get the back and side back pieces together, so I ended up using the Truly Victorian 1860s ballgown bodice with the Past Patterns double sleeve, the Simplicity 5724 for the bertha (altered to fit the neckline of this bodice) and Simplicity 4400 for the skirt.  Black embroidered lace on sleeves and bertha from Marynotmartha on Etsy.


Pink and white striped Natural Form Era gown

Every year my friends and I go to Belvidere, NJ for the annual Victorian Festival in September.  You never know if it's going to be hot or cool at that time of year.  I took a gamble and made a warm weather gown.  I got lucky and the weather cooperated!

Using all Truly Victorian patterns

And one of Dashwood, who came to sit on every project I worked on for 11 years.  This is the last gown he "helped" me sew before he broke my heart and died a few weeks later of cancer.  Good bye, my Darling Boy.  I love you now and forever.

1880s Court Presentation Gown

Last June I was attending the Dress U Court Dinner.  I needed a Court gown!  For fun I had been researching late Victorian Court etiquette and dress, and decided upon an inspiration gown from The Met:


I found some champagne satin and matching tulle and set to work using Truly Victorian patterns.  Since the TV trained skirt pattern wasn't out yet, I had to wing the long court train, which was typically 3-4 yards long in the mid 1880s (!!!).  Mine is detachable.

I had to hand pleat and hand set sequins on the net trim.

The train is 4 yards long and made of white and silver brocade lined in champagne satin.  I even made the requisite court feathered headdress and carried a feather fan and bouquet.

The New York Times, 1902:

Mrs. R.J. Kennedy in Court Presentation attire, 1898
Courtesy of Lafayette Studios, V&A Museum

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Things I have learned since I started sewing

I was thinking yesterday of sharing some of the things I've learned over the years!  So here goes...

~Use quality thread.  Cheap thread tends to break.

~Use the right needle for the job.  Thin fabrics require a different sized needle than thick fabrics.

~Change your needle more often than you think you should.  They get dull and that can affect the quality of your sewing.  In fact, keep several packets of machine needles.  You will break one at 2am the night before your event.

~If you are sewing along, and you hit a pin, and then suddenly your machine acts or sounds funny...don't keep sewing until you break the machine.  Stop immediately.  Change the needle, rethread the top and bottom threads.  Make sure there isn't a piece of pin lodged in or under the bobbin case or some thread wrapped up in there.  This can save you hundreds of dollars in repair bills.

~Speaking of pins...they are your friend when sewing.  Especially if you are sewing together wiggly fabric like silk velvet (or in my case...rayon velvet).  Do throw away pins that have been damaged or become dull because they will cause pulls or runs in your fabric.

~ Use the right fabric for the garment.  If the pattern shows draping, don't get something stiff.  If the pattern requires fabric that has "body," don't get something drape-y.  Wearing the garment in hot weather?  Avoid polyester and go for cotton or linen instead.

~Investigate the different "feet" available for your machine.  There are some helpful products out there that can help you insert a zipper or ruffle trim.  Hell, I still need a "walking" foot.

~If a pattern says to use interlining somewhere, do it.  They didn't write that step for kicks.

~Make a mock up.  Make a mock up.  Make a mock up.  (still learning this one!)

~Velvet has a nap and changes color when held up from different angles.  You need to remember this when laying out your pattern.

~Most Big 3 patterns (Butterick, Simplicity, McCalls) are not historically accurate.  This only matters if you care about being historically accurate.  It's ok if you don't care.

~Never say never.  Someone will find an example of what you claim was "never" worn or done in a museum somewhere.  Or you might suddenly fall in love with an era you hated 6 months ago.

~If your fabric is washable, wash, dry, and iron it before you begin.  Iron your seams as you go along.  Iron or steam your garment before you wear it.

~Research your project before you choose fabric.  Nothing like spending money on fabric only to realize it's wrong.

~You need one more day to finish your project than you think you do.

~Read the pattern before you begin and make sure you have all the fabric and notions needed.  No fun to realize you need and don't have interfacing when you begin your project at 9pm on a Sunday.

~Seam rippers, seam gauges, rulers, marking pens/chalk all disappear.  Buy two.

~Don't cut anything but fabric with your fabric scissors.  Keep a pair of separate scissors in your sewing room to cut patterns or fabric with heavy beading or sequins.

~Trim your seams before you turn the garment to the right side.  Especially at corners!

~If you have a cat, it will end up on your project at all stages.  There is nothing you can do, so just accept it.  Keep a lint roller handy.

That's all I have time for today.  I'm sure I'll think of more later :)

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Some notes on the Mill Farm Riding Habit Pattern

After consulting the sizing chart, I saw I was the size 12, so I bought the size 12/14 pattern.  I noticed when I cut it out that there isn't a choice to cut a 12 or 14.  There's just one set of cutting lines with a 1/2" seam allowance.  I scoured the pattern directions looking to see what seam allowance produced the size 12 measurements.

Finally I wrote to Burnley & Trowbridge to ask.  They wrote back the same day, and said that Sharon just made one size for the 12/14 and that the size 12 would fit "comfortably" and the size 14 "just".  She advised I make a mockup and see what works for me.  Sound advice!

I'm impatient and just want to jump into making the garment, so making a mock up is something I always avoid and always regret having avoided.  So this morning I made a mock up of the jacket, and then realized that without the corset, shirt, and vest on, I really have no idea if it fits.  Looks like I need a mock up of the vest, too.

Before I came to my senses and did a mock up, I admit I'd already cut out the fashion fabric and flatlined it with cotton canvas, but I haven't sewn any of it together yet, so I can still make adjustments to the pieces before I sew them together.  Hey, I'm getting better!  LOL!

*edit*  Well, I cut out the waistcoat, and it seems to be several inches too big.   I had this problem with the Wingeo #410 jacket pattern, too.  All the extra ease from a company producing historic patterns, not costumes, strikes me as odd.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Mill Farm 18th c. riding habit

I'm finally going to Ft. Fred!  Will it be cold or hot?  Who knows!  I decided to make a cotton riding habit.  If it's warm, I won't roast, and if it's chilly, I can throw a cloak over it.

I found a pretty lilac cotton at Jomar, but it's not very hefty, which I think a habit needs, so I was advised to at least interline the front pieces with something mid-heavy weight.  I have a cotton canvas remnant, so it should be enough to do that.  It'll be lined in beige linen.  I spent 4x as much on the lining because I got sucked into having a historically accurate lining fabric.  I'm silly sometimes!

For the pattern, I heard the Mill Farm pattern was pretty good, so I'm going to try that.

I washed and ironed all the fabric, and I've cut almost everything out, so I need to get sewing!

Is it possible I haven't posted in a year??  I don't believe it!

Using the Truly Victorian early Edwardian patterns, I made this 1903-ish evening gown and corset (corset under gown ;) ) from black sequined net over black taffeta

I made a fun 1890s day suit for a Mad Hatter's Tea by combining the Truly Victorian 1880s riding habit bodice front, Truly Victorian 1885 curiass bodice back, and  the sleeves and skirt from Simplicity 4156 with a harlequin print cotton:

Here's my inspiration:

I made a 1920s day dress for the NY Jazz Age Picnic - self drafted using graphic black and white cotton and red piping.

A regency outfit using the Sense and Sensibility wrap bodice gown pattern and the Timely Tresses Virginia bonnet pattern

An early bustle outfit using Truly Victorian patterns.  Still have to trim that skirt!

A Regency chemisette using the Simplicity 4052 pattern

A regency evening gown from the Sense and Sensibility Regency gown pattern of dusty purple satin and black net with silver beads and sequins

bodice detail of silver metallic sequin braid trim

For the Francaise Dinner this year, I wore the same black brocade sacque dress, but I added new mitts and a muff!  I also made muffs for my friends.  Muff pattern from Stephanie Pool, mitts pattern by Mantua Maker (and adjusted to fit my little wrists).

Here are all three muffs I made; Photo courtesy of http://inthelongrun.wordpress.com/

Here's a detail of my "portrait" muff.  I used dark fabric photo transfer paper as advised my a fellow costumer, ironed it onto my fabric, and sewed trim around to hide the edges

An Elizabethan partlet from a pattern shared by http://www.festiveattyre.com/

For the Titanic: The Artifact Exhibit at the Franklin Institute in March, I made a 1912 suit from the Wingeo #410 suit jacket and skirt from the Butterick B4092 from gabardine and cotton velvet.  the suit jacket was VERY square and ill fitting.  The recommended size was several sizes too big in the shoulders, bust, and waist.  I also clipped down the lapel which went past my armcseye.  I added cuffs and made the jacket front a "cutaway" style popular at the time.

I think that's it so far since I last posted.  Apologies to anyone still watching this blog!  I promise to be better about keeping it up.