Monday, October 13, 2014

Tudor dress: Inspired by Katherine Howard

The Tudor Dress

What a labor of love!

Cotton damask, cotton brocade, faux fur
beads for hood and neckline by Style Linkx (
pearled by hand for HOURS

Blackwork cuffs by

Simplicity 2589 for the underthings, gown, and hood

Photos by Jubileel:

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

New Exhibit coming to The Met this Fall!!

"For the first time in 7 years, the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Costume Institute will host a fall exhibition, which will be on view this October (through February 2015) at the Anna Wintour Costume Center. Today the museum announced the exhibition—called Death Becomes Her: A Century of Mourning Attire—noting that it "will explore the aesthetic development and cultural implications of mourning fashions of the 19th and early 20th centuries."
The collection is made up of approximately 30 ensembles, some never before exhibited, which will "reveal the impact of high-fashion standards on the sartorial dictates of bereavement rituals as they evolved over a century."
Can you see me vibrating from excitement?  CAN YOU???

Monday, June 16, 2014

Victorian Party/10-Year Wedding Anniversary Vow Renewal Dress

Over the weekend I had a Victorian Party.  Since it coincided with our 10 year wedding anniversary, we thought it was a great time to renew our vows!  I needed a pretty epic dress, and I found the perfect inspiration fashion plate...dress on the right

But first I needed a new petticoat!  I used Truly Victorian 170, view 1

On to the dress!  I found a lovely white cotton organdy and a pretty lavender cotton at Jomar.  I already had tons of embroidered eyelet trim I'd gotten at Jomar a while ago, so I was ready to start!  The bodice is a combination of the following Truly Victorian patterns: 400 and 403 with a touch of drafting (Frankenpatterning at it's best!), the overskirt is a combo of TV 305 and a bit of drafting (and cursing) to make the shirred side panels, and the underskirt is plain old TV 201.

Since it was a Victorian wedding theme, I wanted some classic waxed orange blossoms like I see in vintage photos.  Etsy to the rescue!  I found a 3-piece set and pinned one piece to my bodice and another to my hair.  I was going to pin the 3rd piece somewhere, but it felt complete so I left it off.

I got the super long flowing veil from China on Ebay, and it came with a free purple terry cloth SARS mask.  LOL!!  SO random, right?  I threw that out and just wore the veil.  Hope I made the right choice.


Custom cake by the local supermarket curtesy of Judy and her family connections!  I couldn't find anyone who would make a small round wedding cake, so she really saved the day.  Topper by

All party photos by

Here are all the photos so far...some by me and some taken from guests:

Friday, May 30, 2014

Reproduction tiaras

Those of you who know me know I love tiaras.  They just make me so happy!  Not surprisingly, I have a few.  A while ago I came across a seller on Ebay who periodically sells reproductions of authentic tiaras.

The Girls of Great Britain and Ireland:

Available at Seperwar

or in a smaller version:

Prussian Diamond Tiara of 1913

Available at Seperwar

Diamond and pearl tiara of Queen Maud of Norway:

Available at Seperwar

1910 Cartier tiara:

Available at Seperwar

The Swedish Nine Prong Diamond Tiara:

Available at Seperwar

And they also have come out with popular antique tiaras, like these original star tiaras

Available at Seperwar

and even pieces inspired by films, like the Great Gatsby bandeau tiara

A similar design available at Seperwar

They have many more reproduction tiaras that I have not shared here, including the Queen Mary Fringe Tiara, the Belgium Scroll Tiara and Queen Victoria's Oriental Circlet Tiara.  If you do not see them for sale today,  just wait...they reappear for sale!

(Disclaimer:  I am not in any way affiliated with Seperwar of Ebay.   I do not get kickbacks of any sort.  In fact, they probably wish I would stop emailing them with wishes for tiara designs.)

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Downton Abbey Costume Exhibit

The Downton Abbey Costume Exhibit is currently in a close neighboring state, so my friends and I made plans to go see it.  Of course I needed a new afternoon outfit to do honor to the collection!

I was inspired by the red, black, and white suit ensemble from 1913

The Jacket:
I remembered seeing a cool suit in the Edwardian Modiste that had a cutaway jacket that I liked, so I used that as my pattern.  I cheated, and the sleeves/cuffs were from the Simplicity 2581.  Red cotton, black poly lining, black soutache trim on collars and cuffs.

The Blouse:  I decided I wanted a blouse instead of a vest.  I used the Laughing Moon #104 guimpe blouse pattern with a striped cotton gauze from Fashion Fabrics Club and some cotton crochet lace on the neck and cuffs.  Underneath the blouse is a nightgown from JC Penny.  Perfect cheat for an edwardian sleeveless chemise!

The Skirt:  I had a cool variated stripe in black and white in my Fabric Stash which was perfect.  I used the Butterick 4092 and added some black linen covered buttons.  I made a belt from wide black grosgrain ribbon and an antique buckle I had on hand.

The cuffs are a combo of soutache I sewed down in a pattern I drew out, and a roll of vintage zig-zag soutache I got at a local "opera house" sale.  I also edged the collar in the vintage soutache:

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Posing with a fan in costume

How to hold a fan when posing for photos in costume
How to hold a fan when someone is taking a photo of the dress you spent weeks making. This way, the fan doesn't cover up your bodice or skirt trim someone is trying to see.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Using The Edwardian Modiste pattern book

Many of us have the beautiful Edwardian Modiste book by Frances Grimble.  It's filled with dozens and dozens of lovely patterns...that I had no idea how to enlarge.

Thankfully, when you Google it, a wonderful tutorial by Festive Attyre pops up!  She posted a two-part video series explaining how the rulers work and how to draw the patterns.

Here it is:

The Glorious Tutorial by Festive Attyre

So I got out a big roll of brown paper, a clear ruler, a French curve, my carefully chosen rulers (I needed three of them) and set to work.

Ahh, look!  I did it!!  I made the front piece!


I moved on to the side front piece and noticed something I didn't understand.  One seam allowance said "1/2 space" and another said "E-space".  I assumed 1/2 space meant half an inch (it didn't...more on that later), but what the heck does "E-space" mean??

I knew the author was a regular over on a FB Edwardian costume community, so I posted my query there.  Turns out I wasn't the only one who didn't know, and that made me feel better.  But finally someone DID know: Heather McNaughton of the most wonderful patterns I've ever used, Truly Victorian (if you like Victorian costume and haven't used her patterns, buy them all now.  You'll save buying in bulk LOL).  She explained that "1/2 space" didn't mean 1/2", it meant the first "1/2" marked space on the ruler you are using from the book, not a regular ruler.  E-space meant to use the first "E" marked on that same ruler.  OOOOOOOOH!!!  Now, which ruler??  I needed three for this garment.  She said to use the horizontal ruler (bust measure) because my garment uses that for ALL horizontal measurements even though it continues to the floor.

Eventually all the information pertaining to how to use these patterns will be in one place.

So wish me luck!

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Costuming Books

A friend just turned me on to this book by Rachel Pollack called "Sticks In Petticoats".  It's all about modern parasol construction and design.  Whoo hoo!

"Written as a resource for costumers and propbuilders in the performing arts industry, this reference volume contains a range of in-depth information on the design, construction, and repair of parasols. Chapters include a brief history of the parasol, step-by-step instructions on different patterning methods for parasol canopies, and suggestions for making material and trim choices. Numerous illustrations, diagrams, and photographs augment the text, and appendices include a thorough glossary of parasol component terms. Sticks in Petticoats is an invaluable addition to any costumer or propbuilder's professional library. This edition contains over a dozen full-color interior photographs by Ryan Jones."

Friday, March 7, 2014

New "new" parasols on the market

Hello everyone!  I had posted a little while ago about buying modern made parasols when you don't want to bring a fragile, beloved antique parasol to your event for whatever reason.  Maybe you're afraid you'll lay it down at a picnic and it'll get stepped on or even lost.  It's happened to the best of us!

I had shared an image of a black lace parasol for which I could no longer find a source, but that's all changed!!  Check it out from Old Mill Mercantile on Ebay:

Here's another I hadn't spotted before.

Comes in red, white, or black and has a natural wood handle for only $9.99!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

3rd Annual Francaise Dinner

Wow, I had no idea when I helped launch the 1st Francaise Dinner that it would turn into an annual thing.  I didn't run it this year (Judy did), but attended as a guest.  I wore the same gown the first and second years, so I wanted a new one this year.  One that would actually show up in photos, which my lovely black with black trim gown did not.

As usual, I used a commercial pattern.  The Simplicity 3637, which is OOP, but not too hard to find on Ebay or Etsy.  If you have patience and ask Ebay to email you whenever it pops up, you can get it cheaper than the usual BIN high prices.

I like this pattern a lot.  I find it pretty easy to put together as long as I transfer all the markings and follow the directions carefully.  The pattern calls for something like 20 yards of fabric, but I used 13-15 yards of 60" fabric to make mine.  I could have gotten away with less for two reasons:

1) It's possible to make the back of the petticoat out of a less expensive fabric because no one sees it.
2) I'm 5'5", and I had to cut off like 8" from both the petticoat and the overgown skirt when I hemmed them.  I suppose the pattern maker gave directions for the tallest possible person (or the highest heels?). Seriously, all that extra hem fabric could have gone towards sleeve flounces or trim strips.

Things I'll remember for next time:
1) Cut out the big pieces first and then use the scraps to cut out the bodice.
2) The upper sleeve flounce is just a suggested size and shape.
I didn't use the bottom sleeve flounce pattern piece because I used my left over embroidered net lace trim from the Regency bonnet (trim from
3) I used almost all of the 24 yards of gold trim I bought to trim the trim.
4) The sleeves are on the small/more fitted side.

Snowbear loves to show off how much her eyes match the fabric

I shortened the horizontal length of the petticoat skirt because my hip pockets are not as large as the pattern calls for.  

It's together, but not trimmed yet.  Hrm...those sleeves need to be rotated!

Almost done!  Needs decorations on the stomacher

Here I am at the dinner

It was a truly lovely event!  We had prizes and giveaways from American Duchess, Portmanteau Fashions and shopping from The Bohemian Belle, In The Long Run, and Dames a la Mode.  The company, however, was priceless!

(photo by Bohemian Belle)

Here are all the photos I took as well as some from a few other guests