Friday, October 17, 2014

a sewing room of my very own

In very exciting news, my husband and I recently purchased our very first home (yay!). We had outgrown our one bedroom apartment a while ago, and had started the official house hunt last spring.

The house needed to have space enough to accommodate both of our hobbies. My husband is actually a professional model maker, and that has spilled over into his home life of building hundreds of little things that for some reason need lots of big things to make them. Which is sort of funny because I make life sized things, and the machines to do that are quite small.

We made an agreement that he would take over the basement as his work space of any house we did buy, and lucky for him (and me) the basement of our new home is the full length and width of the house. So he has plenty of room.

Which means I get to have an ENTIRE ROOM just for me! Very very very excited about this! My old craft area was a corner and a dining room table. The prior owners of our home had enclosed the carport between the main house and the garage and used it as a dining room. Since the kitchen is an eat in, and there's only the two of us, we don't need to dedicate that much space to food.

The room is a little narrow (11 feet across) but very deep.


What? A window for natural light?
Enjoying that they just put up some plywood over
 the old window and painted it.
Of course, since it's just an old carport there's no closet to speak of, and the walls are brick. I think that's kind of fun, giving it a warehouse/industrial feel to it. The carpets are gross (they don't look that bad in photos, but they are). The plan is to put down some faux wood flooring. I had thought about finishing the walls, but I think I'll loose too much space. The back wall in the second photo has an outlet about every foot or so; I'm thinking a L shaped desk for the sewing machine and serger.
Along a side wall I think something like this Stolmen system from Ikea would be great for costumes.

Plus an additional full length bar for more dresses.
I admit I am slightly hesitant about the everything exposed to everyone look, but some curtains would easily solve that problem. Storage would be needed for stuff like books, hats, and patterns. Again Ikea would come to the rescue with those cube shelves they sell.
The husband has promised to put together a cutting table for me (more Ikea shelves with a butchers block secured on top). I usually like dark wood and colors, but for sewing/crafting, I really think white and light is the way to go.

Odds are my space will look like a show room until the first project. Then it'll look like a nightmare. But a roomy, all mine nightmare. That I don't have to put away or clean up to eat dinner. 

shoe time!

American Duchess is having another shoe give away! Check it out for your chance to win!

Thursday, October 16, 2014


The gown was completely finished and on time! Horray!
It was a great day at the fair (our original planned day had been rained out). I was very pleased with how the dress turned out, and will do a write up about the construction later. I thought I would finally share a photo of myself wearing something. 

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Anne Boleyn Dress: COST

About four months ago six friends and I all decided to get together and go to the Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire as the six wives of Henry VIII. I nabbed Anne Boleyn as fast as I could.
This was a VERY big project for me. I have never done anything Tudor before. I researched what I could about Anne's style (her favorite color was green, her favorite gem were pearls, her style was "simple"). Unfortunately there don't seem to be any contemporary portraits of her.

I followed my usual style of using a commercial pattern. I'm just not at drafting skill yet. I used Simplicity 2589 and the companion undergarment pattern for everything except stays. For the stays I used the Elizabethan corset generator.  The Simplicity patterns are out of print, but still available for purchase on their site, as well as all over ebay and etsy.

Let me say now that this is probably the MOST expensive outfit I have yet made. I couldn't give the exact cost, but I will break it down as best I can. Amounts are approximate:
$80 - 9 yards of green velvet (purchased on super sale at Joann's, this color is no longer available there. I know I used the rare an elusive 60% off coupon for this purchase)
$5 - felt
$40 - gold and black silk for the forepart and foresleeves. (I ordered too much and have a bunch of left over)
$20 - faux pearls. I started pearling with a necklace I had purchased years ago that fell apart and I never restrung. Once I ran out I purchased 99 cent strands from Micheal's crafts in similar size and color.
$20 - bracelets taken apart for the black "jewels" on the neckline and foresleeves
$40 - cotton for the farthingale, inner sleeves, shift, bum roll
$15 - faux fur

This does not include some supplies I already had on hand. I have a never ending roll of twill tape I purchased from Jomars. I used it for bone casing. I think I paid $3 for the whole roll, and easily have another 500 yards on the roll after this project. I had fill for the bum roll (left over from the 1857 day dress bum pad). Hoop steel and connectors left over from my civil war ventures, as well as zip ties from 18th century projects Thread and notions also were on hand. The patterns had been purchased while they were still in print for $1 each.

All this put this project at about the $220 mark. If I had to pick up the supplies I didn't have on hand it would have probably cost about $250. Some of the cost does come down to my fabric choices. There are cheaper (and less annoying) fabrics than velvet and silk. I didn't need to embellish the dress. Nor did I need faux fur on the turn backs. I also didn't "need" to make this dress, so it's all relative!

More to come at a later time, hopefully with pictures!

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

wonky pattern matching is wonky

I've tried to pattern match this fabric on the back and side backs, and it continues to foil me. This is my best attempt thus far, and I'm still fairly displeased with it. I have, however, run out of fabric for these excessive attempts. So I have to accept this as is.

The right side back and back match fairly well.  My mess ups are far more obvious on the left side back. I'm hoping a lot of moving about will prevent anyone noticing it in person. I thought it would be easier to match since the pattern is not anywhere near as busy as others I have done in the past. HA! Oh well. At least my skirt panels match up!

Monday, July 28, 2014

the Anne Boleyn Project

I've been told lots of people like to have two projects going at one time. This way if they get bored of one or need a break, they can pull the other out and make progress there. It might explain why some costumers seem to bust out a new outfit every other day (or they're just super fast, maybe both).... I'm currently giving this method a try. The Regency day dress was a bit of a surprise, otherwise I wouldn't be juggling these two projects together.
A month or two ago a group of friends and I decided it would be fun to go to our local Ren Faire dressed as the 6 Wives of Henry VIII. As fate would have it, the faire is changing from Elizabeth to young Henry and Katherine this year (but that's just a weird coincidence).

I jumped at the chance to dress as Anne Boleyn. My interest in her began the first time I saw Anne of the Thousand Days staring Genevieve Bujold. Since then I've seen and read so many different portrayals of her. She's always been an iconic figure (good and/or bad) and I am so excited to be doing this.
There only seems to be one period portrait of her (which really is a late Elizabethan portrait). It's been said her favorite color was green and her favorite jewels were pearls. Her "B" necklace is another trademark I cannot leave out. Unfortunately I have blue eyes and pale skin (Anne was described as having black eyes and a darker complexion), but there's not much I can or will do about that (not tanning, thank you).
I'm going to be using Simplicity 2589 and 2621 for this project. My fabric choices are probably a little on the conservative side (but I'd rather make something a little more plan but correct then something all crazy and wrong). I'm using "hunter green" cotton velvet for the majority of the gown (which apparently Joann's no longer sells, glad I picked it up when I did). The forepart of the skirt and the foresleeves with be the black and gold silk damask (purchased at The folded back portion of the sleeves is going to be black faux fur. I found the "B" necklace on Amazon for $20 (with free shipping) which looks suspiciously like several "handmade" necklaces on Etsy selling for a little bit more.
If time and patience allows me, I plan to fancy up the foresleeves and forepart with pearls stitched on here and there (the most important thing is to make sure I have something to wear before obsessing over small details).  
I have started a little bit of sewing for this. It worked out I was able to make the chemise for a Historical Sew Fortnightly challenge (the challenge was "Under $10"). It's made of black and white striped cotton (I picked up 20 yards for $20 at an opera sale), and the pattern I picked  up for $1. I know the cotton isn't historically accurate, but no one is going to see it and I had to cut some budget corners somewhere (velvet is not cheap). 

It has a very, very wide neckline.

I've also finished the bum roll using scrap fabric and have started on the farthingale. I will not be using Simplicity's stay pattern. I already know I'm a bit short waisted, and a friend who had made it in the past found it very long. I tried her set on and it was digging into my sides. Also, the boning did not extend into the tabs at the bottom of the stays. Usually they do, which I believe is designed help take the weight of the clothing off of the waist and keep things from slipping down. I can't say all this with 100% authority, but it's my working assumption. So instead I will be using the Custom Corset Pattern Generator.

Fingers crossed I don't somehow sew the Regency bodice to the Tudor skirt....

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Regency day dress: beginning stages

Yet another Regency event has popped up, and I must sew! A friend is putting together a Regency Tea event. My only two current options are a wool day dress (sort of bad for August) or my sari evening gown (not so "tea" looking).

For prior events I have borrowed a dress from a friend, but I really feel like I'm taking advantage of that benefit. Once or twice, not a problem. Over 5 times? Probably starting to get a little annoying. And she's also going to this tea and *might* want to wear her own costumes. Weird, right?

I've already picked up my accessories, which I purchased from In the Long Run. I've ordered from her before, and have nothing but great things to say about her work. It's all very well made, looks perfect for the era, and arrives super quick.

I nabbed this festoon necklace, matching earrings and my same friend gave me the a matching bracelet (maybe a hint to start my own dress to go with it?)

Since I have this jewelry sitting around waiting to be worn, I thought now was as good a time as any to find some fabric to match it. I'm under the impression that white was very popular during Regency. If not white, then pastels. Soft, delicate, girly-girl colors and prints and everything that is so not me. I'm certainly not the most knowledgeable of Regency fashions, so please don't take my opinion as fact.

My assumption of white standing, I'm sure there was a color rebel or two during the time, and I want to channel them. But I also don't want my dress to look, well.... like a gag dress in Austenland. There's got to be a balance.

I found some fabric at a Joann's in the red tag section. I wasn't sure of it (in terms of Regency wear). I know it would be great for some 18th century looks, have seen it used for such, so I knew they had access to making fabric that looked like it. Is it the equivalent of someone today walking around in 1980's neon? Maybe, but someone could have done it and thought "damn I look stylin'" or whatever the slang Regency ladies used when they thought they looked good.

I can't say for certain why this is different from other floral prints that I would normally turn my nose up at. While it is feminine, something about it seems sturdy. Does anyone else apply such odd adjectives  to fabric designs? Maybe not sturdy, maybe practical is better.

I was hidden under some outdoor fabric until I could be purchased!

So I jumped online and started asking anyone I knew about this fabric. Then lo', I was sent this image as support for the fabric:


I know it's not EXACTLY the same (the original dress being embroidered) but I think it's close enough. Luckily after finding the fabric, hiding it, having to wait a few days and then going back to the store the fabric was still there to be purchased. There was just over 7 yards, so I grabbed it all.
I think I will be using Sense and Sensibility's Cross over bodice dress for this project. But I also really like the neckline of that example photo. Is it a drawstring waist with a V neck? That might be too dangerously close to drafting something myself.
I have an event, I have accessories, I even have fabric. Now I just need to sew!