Thursday, February 23, 2017

Tailor's Guide Riding Habit

My first project for 2017 is the Tailor's Guide Riding Habit. It's based off of the Snowshill Manor riding habit (also found in Janet Arnold's Patterns of Fashion). Even though I do own the book, I'm a patterns sort of girl and found it well worth the money to pay someone else to scale up for me.

I treated myself to red wool from Military Heritage. It was a little on the expensive side, but what a dream to work with! The color is fabulous. The wool is deliciously warm. Shipping was fast. When I can afford to, I will be ordering from them again. The black wool accents are leftover pieces from a past project.

We both made up the same pattern!

SPECIAL NOTES: The pattern is for the jacket only! There were a few minor issues with the pattern that may have thrown me off in the past. (1) The cuff pattern piece calls for 4 of the fabric and 2 of the lining to be cut. It's actually 2 of interfacing, NOT lining. (2) The pattern markings to match up pieces are drawn on the outside of the pattern piece vs. the inside. If you cut the pattern out, you loose those markings unless you draw them onto your piece first. (3) The sleeves are TIGHT. Super tight. I made mine out of a size small, and I'm planning to go back and use the medium. I don't have large arms by any stretch of the imagination. Maybe super tight sleeves are historically accurate but I like more motion than a T Rex has. It's also possible the thickness of my wool contributed to the tightness, but I remain suspicious that the sleeves would have still been tight.

This pattern comes in sizes small, medium, large, and XL. I took a chance and just made up the size small because my measurements were very close to the highest measurements given for that size. I would suggest a mock up for this pattern if you have the time.

Despite these few bumps, I would recommend this pattern! It went together very well, and I loved how the pattern pieces had the seam allowances marked on them. The instructions were very clear and I didn't find myself confused over anything in particular.

TIME: I failed at tracking my time. Grabbing an hour here and there when I could, I manage to get the jacket done within 3 weeks. The petticoat was completed in a single evening.

PETTICOAT: I made mine using some help from tutorials from American Duchess and Koshka the Cat. To be able to pleat the waistband, I did a strip of cotton at the top. The wool would have added far too much bulk. You can see a bit of the black cotton in the above photo where I am sitting enjoying some wine. I wish I had done that with the lining of the jacket skirt. Live and learn! The petticoat is worn over pocket hoops. I had decided to make my petticoat a little on the short side. It's going to be a winter costume (all that wool would kill in warmer weather), and I anticipated showing off boots and avoiding the slush winter tends to bring.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

2016 sewing in review

It's 2017 already. Time does fly by when you've having fun. And sleep deprived.

I really had hoped to document my sewing as I went. In the end, it came down to either sewing or talking about it, so I went with actually sewing.

2016 sewing presented several challenges for me. I decided this year I would sew mostly from stash. I had a lot of changes in my weight post pregnancy to wrestle with. Most difficult was adjusting to the time limitations on my sewing (babies really don't understand the concept of a sewing marathon, nor do they care).

My very first project for the year was a bustle gown for a seaside themed party. It was made entirely from stash. I was so happy to return to sewing I was perhaps over ambitious. I love love LOVE my underskirt with all those pleats. The overskirt ended up not looking how I wanted it too, but I didn't have time to redo it (I still have ample supply of that striped fabric, so it's going to get redone eventually). I also took the opportunity to draft a shawl collar for the very first time. That was a learning curve. Due to weight loss the bodice no longer fits.

It's quite big when the dress form is set to my current measurements.

I used Truly Victorian 201, 362 and modified 403 for the bodice. The overskirt is apparently my cat's favorite place to nap (which I'd love to know how because it's been hanging in the closet...). Overall I was happy with the outfit at the time. I need to bring the waist in on the underskirt, and redo the bodice (to one that fits) and overskirt (to one I like).

My second project (and the first completely 100% totally finished staying the way it is outfit of the year) was my 1920s Miss Fisher inspired outfit. I always love wearing 1920s fashion. It's fun, it's comfortable, and it's very forgiving. I scored a straw cloche hat from Modcloth and plan to decorate it to match the outfit. I really can't wait until the weather changes and I can wear this again.

Project 3 was definitely out of my comfort zone. It was all from stash and my first step into the 1830s. This project required a lot convincing to do (I am NOT an 1830s fan, or a big sleeves fan) and a ton of searching on my part to find something I would feel comfortable in. 1830s is such a fussy, feminine era, and not my style at all. I went with a riding habit because (1) I always feel safe in black and (2) the men's inspired wear was the least girly look I could find. The bodice is a mish mash of Laughing Moon 114 and Truly Victorian 455. I used the Truly Victorian pattern for the skirt, and corded petticoat pattern from Historical Sewing. I drafted a shawl collar again, doing a little better this time around.

It rained, so we spent the picnic portion of the event at a butterfly sanctuary. In most photos I am a blur, as I activated my ninja skills to defend myself from the winged menaces.

Channeling George Sand with my look...
The hat a loan from Madame Modiste

The riding shirt is just a regency chemisette with a stock (total cheat, I know, but after all those buttons and piping I was ready to call it quits). After all that sewing the dress was TOO BIG. I was actually really happy about that, until I realized that the corded stays I made last year are now also too big. I'm not so proud I can't admit I had more fun in 1830s than I thought I would, but I have a feeling that was more to do with the company than the era. I promised my hostess that I would give it all another go if she hosted the event again and that I will remake my riding habit to fit me (and out of wool this time).

Project 4 was an ultimatum with the Regency era. I have tried and tried again to find "me" in the style, and have come up wanting. Again, it's a very feminine style that just doesn't call to me. Searching and searching, I saw an outfit with a very military inspired look. I thought to myself if this doesn't win me over, nothing will and that will be it for Regency sewing. Not only was I thrilled with the end result (now known as the Velveeta dress) but I actually have photos of me in it!


I made this hat too, and I stole the plume from my husband.
He'll never know.

With my hostess The Lady Detalle and Madame Modiste.

I used Rocking Horse Farm Regency Riding Habit for the jumper, and Laughing Moon 129 View C for the spencer. Both patterns made up quickly and easily. I didn't get the chance to make the riding shirt, so I had to keep my spencer on the whole time. I loved how it looked, so that wasn't really a complaint.

My last outfit for the year was a winter Victorian bustle, made for a holiday tea with friends. The red wool was stash. I used Truly Victorian 261, 365 and 466. I had wanted to make an outer coat and add more velvet trim for a second event I planned to wear this too, but life decided to throw a major curveball for a friend. Sewing was put on hold and that portion of this outfit will be finished another time (the coat has even been cut out!).

It might not have been the most productive year in terms of the number of costumes, but I felt like I had some major successes. I tried drafting, I stepped into a new era, I finally made friends with Regency. Pulling mostly from stash, I put more planning into each outfit. I found myself doing more trims and little details that added a lot to the overall looks.

Now, on to 2017!

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Miss Fisher Inspired Outfit

My first 100% completed project of the year is my 1920s outfit inspired by one of Miss Fisher's many amazing ensembles. This amazing ensemble to be exact.

NOT my version. I wish it was.

I've drooled over almost every article of clothing Miss Fisher wears (her "muppet" pajamas being the only thing I can think of I don't like) and I paid the outrageous shipping charges to have the catalogs from the costumes exhibits sent from Australia to the US so I could drool some more. GET THOSE COSTUMES ON DISPLAY IN THE STATES ALREADY!

Ahem... sorry.

If you love Miss Fisher's clothing the way I do, those catalogs are worth every penny. Marion Boyce provides lots of useful information about the outfits (what they're made out of, lengths of fabrics used, when something came from her stash that she purchased it 20 years ago so all your hopes and dreams of finding it are crushed).

The outfit is made up of two pieces: a pinafore and a blouse. Unfortunately my budget is a little more restrictive than the show's, so I had to go with more cost friendly and locally available fabrics.

My pinafore was made from linen fabric and is a combination of two patterns mashed together. I came across a lovely vintage 1920s skirt pattern in my size and price bracket on etsy. Not only that, but it looked darn close to the details on Miss Fisher's outfit. To make the top portion of the pinafore, I used Past Patterns Flapper Combination Underwear.


Not as bad as the famous Victorian line of "assemble in the usual manner" but the instructions were on the light side. They were printed on the pattern pieces instead of a separate sheet and didn't really order the steps in which to do things. So I had to wing it. I doubt it makes a world of a difference for this project because the shapes are basic but it is something to keep in mind when shopping vintage patterns. The combo pattern also only includes the original instructions, however I think most people can work out what to do.

Kind of blah, right?

At least it had this really fun pleating detail on the side.

In hindsight I wish I had given myself the time to line up the wait of the skirt with the waist of the slip pattern a little better, but it still worked. The pinafore looks kind of sad and silly by itself. I admit at this stage I was worried/disappointed/nervous the project was not working out.

The blouse is made of a chiffon of questionable content and origin. I found it at Jomar, a discount warehouse than stocks whatever anyone sells to them. The Miss Fisher blouse has a striped print, but what I found looked good enough to me for it to work. The details around the neck, sleeves and waistband are made of the same linen that the pinafore was. The buttons are self covered. The shoulder scarf is attached with a round plastic tortoise buckle.

To make the blouse, I heavily modified my 1925 zig zag dress pattern from Decades of Style. I didn't take photos of my process, because I didn't know if it would work or not. I loved how the blouse turned out, and plan to make something up with the same format again. So I'll document it better then. I'll explain as best I can, and hopefully someone will understand me!

 I used the front, back and sleeve pieces only. On separate sheets of paper, I traced out the neckline, shoulders and sides of the front and back pattern pieces, and drew straight lines at the bottom for the new straight waistline design. I made sure the side seams were the same length. Once I had done that it was very easy to create the facing for the linen details. I just drew them out on the same pattern pieces I had just made, and cut them out after I had used the new paper pattern to cut the chiffon. I just shortened the length of the original sleeves to where I liked them.

Something that I had forgotten to do and did not notice until later was change the armscye on the front pattern piece. The original pattern calls for gathering which I did not want to do for this project. It was an easy enough fix after the fact but it's something to keep in mind if you'd like to make this outfit up using the techniques I did.

When I did the linen details, I cut two of each piece (one would show on the outside, one on the inside). Right sides together, I sewed all the details pieces together at the side and bottom seams. I ironed down the reaming seam allowances on the top ends. With right sides together, I sewed the details to the chiffon. After that I flipped the linen so that the last remaining unsewn edge was on the inside of the blouse, and could be sewn through the chiffon to the front of the facings. I opted to hand sew because I didn't want visible stitching on the front, and I am HORRIBLE at stitching in the ditch. Ultra super bad at it.

The shoulder scarf is just one long rectangle. I used a rolled hem on the edges to prevent it from unraveling everywhere. The buckle was loosely stitched in place at the should and the scarf fed through. I might stitch the scarf down or knot it to prevent it moving forward or backward.

Once the blouse was over the pinafore, I was thrilled! It looked pretty good to me.

Accessories and other details were assembled. Some worked out, others didn't.
  • I had attempted to reshape a straw hat into a cloche, but it ended up looking to much like a 1980s bucket hat. So I made a chiffon scarf and tied it into my hair (my hair is short, and works for the 20s so this was an easy option for me).
  • I owned white crochet gloves, but to work modern technology (which was needed that day) I had to remove them.
  • I couldn't wear my stockings; it was in the 90s and I was outside all day. Passing out was NOT desired.
  • My 1920s inspired shoes were purchased years ago at DSW and I love them. Unfortunately with no stockings, it was blister city on my feet. Oh well, the price one pays for fashion...
  • I found red teardrop earrings on etsy, which I thought were perfect
I didn't track my time. Working on this project was sporadic. I grabbed an hour here and there. I did the hand stitching on my lunch breaks at work. However, I did get it all done in less than a month with a young baby in the house. So I'm confident in normal time that's about two weeks of light work. And probably two days of serious sewing time.

I really look forward to wearing this one again, and making it up in a different color combo!

Thursday, June 30, 2016

return to costuming!

Hello costuming world! Long time no contact! I'm afraid I've made very little since my last post (IN AUGUST OF LAST YEAR!) and attended very few events because.....


My husband and I welcomed our first child in March. I had plans for several costumes while pregnant, but the fates conspired against me.

Several twists of costuming fate:
  • I had made a Regency ball gown from a Nehelenia pattern, but early pregnancy symptoms made it difficult to track my time/opinion of the final outfit. Not to mention making me feel ill while at the event itself. I often forget I even made it.
  • I had planned on making the Mockingbird dress worn by Sansa Stark for a Game of Thrones themed event I co-hosted in October. Turns out I did not have enough black silk to correctly fit that gown to my then size. I was able to make one of Daenerys' more flowing gowns from Season 1, but it was a sort of quick and dirty never plan to wear this again sort of dress and I'm not particularly proud of it.
    • However, I did manage to make full costumes for two friends (a Sansa and a Littlefinger) and parts of costumes for my husband and one sister (Tywin and another Daenerys).
    • If I can get the chance and round up some photos I'll post about the event itself. It was good fun and I'd love to do it again sometime (with a costume I like)
  • I made my husband a Regency suit for an outing in Baltimore. At this point I was running low on sewing energy (and energy in general) so I didn't track my time, and I wasn't that happy with the final product. I'm just not sure I like Regency enough to keep making it. I have one more outfit I plan to try and if that doesn't win me over, I'll call it quits on making Regency.
    • I did make myself a new wool spencer which turned out fairly nice, but it needs a button
  • Finally, my last plan was to make a Victorian maternity dress for two events I was attending. And then I came down with a massive upper respiratory infection that knocked me out for all but 3 days in December. So that was a huge no go. I couldn't attend the one event and the second (which allowed for any era) I ended up wearing my summer 1920s outfit to. It was the only think I had that I could fit in. 
Recently I was able to get a Victorian gown (mostly) done for a friend's annual Victorian party. I say mostly done because it lacks the finishing like buttons and trim, but it was wearable for the event, and is still on my dress form so I remember to finish it up. I did, however, totally fail at keeping track of my time. I will post about the dress soon!

Because we're still adjusting to life with the bean, we've planned to attend fewer events this year (which means less sewing in general). That doesn't mean there's nothing on my to do list though!

Some hopefully to be done projects include:
  •  a new 1920s summer outfit for the Jazz Age Lawn Party. Creating a look inspired by Miss Fisher, I've found a vintage 1920s skirt pattern and the right fabric. Now I just have to get to work.
  • an early Victorian riding habit and evening dress (not to mention the required undergarments) for an event in early October. A friend suggested I make one skirt and two bodices to help save time. GENIUS!
  • a Halloween ensemble for myself and the baby (I asked my husband if he wanted to do a group costume thing. He declined saying he'll wait to embarrass the child when he's older)
  • my last ditch attempt at a Regency dress that speaks to me
  • a Victorian dress for a Christmas event (the same annual event I missed last year, so I'd love to make something really nice to make up for my missing it)
Maybe too ambitious? I'm not sure. We'll find out!

A few other things related to costuming are going on:
  • Firstly, GET MY SEWING ROOM IN ORDER! This is an official command from me to me. It had been in order at one time. Then it became the dumping grounds for everything when we cleared out a bedroom to make space for the spawn. I'm not productive in a messy environment, so this has to change.
  • Secondly, I'm stash only sewing this year. This doesn't include things like notions, or linings. It only includes fashion fabrics. I gave myself two fabric passes, of which I've already used one (1920s inspired fabric). My most recent Victorian dress was made entirely out of stash, and a roll holding 25 yards of black taffeta I found in a corner of my sewing room can easily cover those three Victorian gowns I have planned. And probably a few other things.
  • Finally, learn to use my embroidery machine. I bought a embroidery machine over the winter from a friend for a super steal. And it's been sitting there, giving me the sad puppy eyes, wondering why I've yet to try it out let alone have it make something cool.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Laughing Moon Mercantile: Pattern #115

I finally did it! I conquered my absolute fear of making stays and made this pair. Is it the greatest pair of stays ever? No, but for a first timer I think I did myself proud.

I had decided to make these stays when I realized one of the issues I always have when wearing Regency is that I never feel comfortable in it. Sort of weird considering how very physically comfortable it is (and how easy it is to drive in!). I'm certain my discomfort rises from the fact that I'm far more used to styles where I'm corseted, and I expect that hugged feeling from my underwear. I don't mind wearing a corset at all, and when I wore Regency short stays I felt like I have left the house with no underwear on at all. Quite awkward.

SO! On to the stays themselves. This set was made using the Laughing Moon Mercantile Pattern 115. I love Laughing Moon patterns. The instructions are always very detailed and if there is something I don't understand, they're always glad to help me via email.

(Sorry about my poorly painted door. It leads to the garage and I just haven't retouched it yet)

TIME: Close to 20 hours. I wanted to be as precise as I could be with the cording, so I spent a decent amount of time making sure my marking were where they belonged. Also, this set of stays has bust and hip gussets, two for the each hip, two for each boob, and then double that with the lining and you have 16 gussets in all. I find gussets annoying and time consuming. I used metal eyelets instead of making my own thread ones because that's the sort of detail I'm always read y to take a short cut on. Not to mention that is perfectly accurate for the later period that these stays can be worn for. 

ALTERATIONS: I made up the corded corset. The pattern had advised that with the cording, there was going to be some shrinkage with my fabric. Following the directions, I added an inch to the areas that they indicated. At the stage when I tried them on for fit, I was able to determine where I should remove the extra I had added and where I should leave it. In retrospect, I should have removed more since my stays almost completely close at the back. From what I've seen this type of stays always has about an inch gap. This is the only alteration I made, and it was on advise of the pattern itself. 

EASE OF INSTRUCTIONS: The instructions for this pattern were very good. There aren't that many (there are few pieces and the bulk of the work is the cording itself), but they were clear. I would suggest this pattern for the intermediate sewer looking to push their boundaries. There are a ton of markings that need to be transferred, if you're uncomfortable with that practice a bit before taking this one on. 

So in the end did I feel better about Regency when I wore my stays? I couldn't tell you because I got sick the night I wore them! Cursed stomach bugs!

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Embellishments: Constructing Victorian Detail

The mailman recently delivered this book, and I LOVE IT. This book was clearly written with the DIY/self taught sewer in mind, and shares a lot of great instructions on how to do period details on Victorian garments. The directions are clear, concise, and come with illustrations that are easy to understand.

The topics covered are ruching, pleating, piping, ribbon work, cording and braids, and appliqu├ęs. Measurements are including with some of the pleating examples if you want to recreate what is shown on the extant dress.

My current project doesn't require any of these techniques, but I look forward to some downtime to try them out. I highly recommend this book!

Friday, May 8, 2015

1920s Day at the Races

The other weekend I attended the Point to Point Races at Winterthur in Delaware. OODLES of fun! Everyone was super friendly, the grounds are beautiful, and there was something to entertain you every time you turned around.

I decided to make a 1920s ensemble for this event for no other reason than I really wanted to use the bonsai bridge fabric from Joann's for something. ANYTHING. I had been stalking this fabric at the store for some time, certain that sooner or later I'd think of a project for it. Then about a year ago I ordered Decades of Style 1920s Tulip Kimono, the 1925 Zig Zag dress and the Foxtrot bag (which I ended up not making). So fabic I loved + patterns + event = finally doing it.

Normally I find cloches in every store at every time of the year, but because I was on the hunt for a simple black one, there were none to be had. A quick etsy search lead me to Elsewhenmillinery where I ordered the Madeline cloche pattern.

I channeled my inner Miss Fisher and was really pleased with the results. It ended up being quite warm that day (cotton and linen for the win!), and I could have gotten away with not wearing the coat. But I loved it so much I wanted to have it on anyway.

Here I am with Madame Modiste 
(who allowed me to call her Aunty Prudence all day) 

Parasols were a MUST!
TIME: My entire project (the coat, dress and hat) took a total of 14 hours.
1920s Tulip Kimono: When I tell you the coat just fell together I mean it. It's an amazing pattern and I'm looking forward to making another when the right inspiration hits. Seriously, I have nothing but pure love for this coat.
1925 Zig Zag Dress: Deceptively simple looking. I decided to pipe the gores and the zig zag detail around the waistline. It was tricky going. Attaching the goes to the upper portion of the dress took lots and lots of pining. The pattern calls for the lower portion to be attached to the top by hand. I found that since I did the piping I could machine sew it on using the piping as a cover for the stitches. Otherwise they would have been visible. Had I not done piping I would have sewn it on by hand. Another great pattern by Decades of Style. I really look forward to using more of their stuff.
Madeline hat: A pleasant surprise! The pattern requires you to add the seam allowance, which normally sends all sort of red flags off for me (I couldn't tell you why!). The pattern also come with 53 steps which at first was terrifying. The instructions are EXTREMELY detailed. I found that the pattern maker included a lot of steps that most leave off. To some it may seem unnecessary, but others might appreciate all the insider hints and tips. I was very happy with how my hat turned out and will gladly buy from this seller again.
ALTERATIONS: Absolutely none. The Decades of Style patterns are just.frigging.perfect.

EASE OF INSTRUCTIONS: Instructions for the Decades of Style patterns were wonderful. I didn't come across anything that confused me or didn't make sense. The hat pattern was extremely detailed, but still easy to follow.
Strolling about was so easy in 20s wear.