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!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Sense & Sensibility Elegant Ladies Closet: (modified) Sari Dress

First of all, let me express my fear of Regency dresses. The first ever costume I made was a Regency dress (Simplicity 4055). Not having any idea of how to read a pattern, or instructions, I was tramazied. I can't fault the pattern (knowing how new to sewing I was) but I was completely scared away from the style.

For some time I was able to avoid Regency clothing. The, slowly but surely, more events popped calling for that style. As my sewing skills progressed I looked at that first dress and knew I could do better now if I gave myself a second chance.

My first step back into the era was for a Christmas party a friend was hosting. Knowing all the effort she was putting into her party, I would not dream of appearing in my old green dress of absolute fail.

I had to find a new pattern to use. Despite being told it's the same thing as the Simplicity pattern, I went with the Sense & Sensibility Elegant Ladies Closet pattern. I LOVE that I could download a pdf (in true form, I started this project much later than I should have. Waiting for a pattern to ship would have lost me much needed time).  S&S is also extremely helpful, and somewhere on her site is a step by step how to with photos. Always a win for me.

I would like to point out that I had access to two of the same saris for this project. I often see people complete a dress with just one. I'm not sure if they draft a pattern themsevles or what. I found I needed two to get all the detail I have at the bottom of my skirt (otherwise only the front would have had the detail, and I was obsessed with having that border go all the way around). I'll be the first to admit it's completely possible to do with only one sari if one knows what they are doing. I need to follow a pattern, and my pattern (and the pattern on the sari) required more yardage than one sari provided.

Super wrinkle time! I must do a better job of photos. I promise to return to this post and update with better images. But I need to get off my butt and back to posting.

TIME: A major fail. I have misplaced my notebook that I was using to keep track of my time. I'm searching high and low for it.

ALTERATIONS: I wanted the cross over bodice, but I didn't want the opening flap going down the front of the skirt. It was just a personal preference. So I had to modify the back to open so I could get in and out of the costume. I wasn't able to raise my arms very high in the dress, and this might be why Or it might just be that it isn't designed for the arms to have as much movement (I can't say for certain, as I changed the pattern). I also had to shorten the overall length of the dress. I'm about 5'3" and was wearing flats. I would have been tripping everywhere if I hadn't. I also lined the dress. My saris were shockingly see through, and even more shocking... I didn't make a shift. I have one, but it's white, long sleeved, and wasn't long enough to cover all that needed to be (anyone would be able to see it stopping at my knees. Then there would have been this band of semi see through fabric, it would have driven me insane). I also thought the white under the burgundry would change the overall look of the color so I just calmed myself down and lined it in some gold slubby silk from Joann's. Is it historically accurate to line a Regency dress? NO CLUE.

EASE OF INSTRUCTIONS: The step by step with photos on the site was a major bonus. If a company offers that I rarely even peek at the instructions sent with the pattern. I imagine the instructions are very similar to the online help.

BONUS: I made a matching turban with left over fabric. Using the tutorial from the Oregon Regency Society, I made "the cap turban". Their tutorial worked wonderfully and really finished off my look. I liked that I could just pop it on my head and not worry about it coming unwound.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Fort Fred Adventure!

A few friends and I gathered again for a day of shopping and fun at the annual Fort Frederick 18th Century Market Fair. I didn't make a new dress (I rewore my Period Impressions polonaise), but I changed it up with some new accesories. I wore some mitts given to me by a friend, jewelry from Dames a la Mode, new shoe buckles from American Duchess and  a market basket I wove just for the occassion. To top it all off, the wig I had ordered from the Wigmaker of Colonial Williamsburg was ready.

Here I am at the end of the day. A little tuckered out, but loving it.
And a back view:
up to no good...

My haul from the day: my wig, picked up two large, lovely white male ostrich plumes, a hat blank and a few hat pins. My friend Kat gave me a present of a pocket kit with embroidery! Loves! She knows I have been itching to learn that skill, and saw me eyeing up the kit. I some how left the fair with money.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Liebster Blog Award

I've been nominated!

Which makes me feel very guilty for not updating more often. It's been a very busy few weeks. That feels like a very lame excuse when I see so many people with lots of amazing costumes and updated blogs who I know have just as busy a life as I do.

1. Thank the blogger who nominated you. A big thank you to In the Long Run for this nomination!

2. Nominate 10 other bloggers, and notify them of their award.

I'm going to have to break this rule. I checked and the blogs I would like to nominate, and all have already been so (I'm even newer to blogging than I am to sewing, and my circle of blogs is small). If there's a blog out there you think I should check out, link me! I could really use blogs that have a lot of instructional photos and tips. While I do love looking at the pretty pretty, learning how to make the pretty is usually more useful.

3. Come up with 10 questions you want your nominees to answer.
I haven't nominated anyone, so I can't directly ask anyone these questions. But the following are what I usually ask when I meet someone new. And what I think would be useful for people to tell in their blogs from time to time.
(1) How long have you been sewing?
(2) Are you self taught, or did you go to school for a costuming related field?
(3) What got you interested in costuming?
(4) What is your favorite part about dress up?
(5) Least favorite?
(6) Strangest thing anyone has ever said to you while in costume?
(7) What was your funniest in costume moment?
(8) What is your favorite event to go to?
(9) How many garments a year do you make?
(10) What advice would you give to someone just starting to get interested in costuming?

4. And lastly: Answer the questions you received from the one who nominated you.

I was asked about the story behind my favorite garment that I have made. At first I thought "luckily for me there weren't 10 questions to answer!" Then I thought "crap, I don't have a favorite."

I  do have outfits I like less than others. I was not a fan of my 1860s ballgown. The 1860s was entirely new to me. With time and money as factors, I randomly picked a fabric and made a fairly basic dress. I was not happy. It didn't look bad or incorrect, but I didn't feel comfortable (mentally) in it. I'm not sure if I'll ever go to an 1860s ball again. The ball itself was fun. I might take this as a challenge to try a different dress and see if I can't change my mind. I did like my 1857 day dress, so I don't think that era is entirely on the outs, I just haven't found the right ball gown look for me.

 I don't really have an era or style that I would call "mine." I haven't put something on and thought "" That might be why I can't pick a favorite. I'm not sure if it's because I still consider myself new to the whole world of costuming, or if I haven't found the look that speaks most to me. Maybe it's not a sudden realization but years of being drawn to a specific style. 

Each time I have made something, I have learned something new. It's all probably fairly basic, boring skills most people learn early on. But that first "AH HA!" moment of fabric matching, to understanding why the thread of the machine is doing what it's doing, to finally learning why grain lines are important to pay attention to; things like that always show up on a project. And just when I think I've mastered a skill, something new presents itself for me to learn. Once I get the bustle skirt down, I think "what's stopping me from making the bustle cage?" and so on.

Monday, February 10, 2014

worn out!

I haven't really be able to post, because I haven't had much time. I have actually been sewing (!). But the more I think I have a handle on how much time something will take me, I am proven wrong.

February may be a little late to do a costume in review post of my 2013 sewing. The only outfit I did finsieh that I haven't posted a photo of is a Regency evening dress made from burgundy saris complete with matching turban.

2013 complete projects are:
robe a la Francaise
husband's velvet 18th century suit
polonaise (with bum roll)
18th century officer costume for the husband
Mey Rein Costume (for a friend)
The Burton Dress
hoop skirt
1860's ball gown
1857 day dress
and finally the Regency dress with turban

So 11 projects in 12 months! No too shabby.

So far this year I have made a Dr. Girlfriend costume, a regency bibb front dress, and a pelisse (that I have not finished trimming).

The 3rd Annual Francaise Dinner Party is less than 3 weeks away and I still haven't started that yet (eeek!!!!). Luckily a friend is going to help. I've picked out pink and green as my colors this year. I am going to be a watermelon! My goal for the dinner: at least 1 good photo of myself in my dress.

I have a few goals for this year:
a nice Regency costume for the husband (something less costumey than the officer outfit)
teens era corset
teens era picnic outfit (for when a group of us visit the costume exhibit)
new 18th century stays
a medieval outfit (part of a costume challenge)
17th cenury dress (part of the same costume challenge)
polka dot Victorian dress.

Which is also 11 projects total for 2014 if I don't add anything... weird.

But I probably will.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Simplicity 3727

This pattern is out of print, unfortunately. But with a little digging around you can snag one for a good price. The major pro of this particular pattern was the directions were AMAZING. I understood exactly what I was being told to do the first time every time. The major con was there was a lot of hand sewing. A LOT. Far more than I expected, and depending on how you trim, a lot that could have been avoided.

My absolute favorite part of this dress is actually the back. It makes me think of later Victorian styles.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Simplicity 9764

I started my sewing for the 150th Anniversary of Remembrance Day by sewing my very own hoop. I decided to make the hoop myself for a couple of reasons. One of the main reasons was because of all the "lamp shade" skirt warnings that many people said came with the purchased hoop skirts. And my OCD being what it is, I thought it was less trouble to make the skirt than the overwhelming paranoia I would suffer if I purchased one.

I used Simplicity 9764. It seems to be out of print, but it's still fairly recent enough that you can find fairly priced copies on ebay or etsy. I only made view A, which is the actual hoop. I didn't have time to make the petticoat.

 Here's what mine looks like: