Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Simplicity 2589

Yet another project made from out of print patterns. These just very recently went out of print, and you can still snag them for about $5 each. I *highly* encourage anyone that even thinks they might one day remotely consider making this dress to get them.

I'll start with the outer layer of the costume (it's part I like best). It was a fun gown to wear, and I can see the allure of making more after spending a day in one.


TIME: Roughly 35 hours for all outer layer items. My arch nemesis, hand sewing, was required for certain parts of this costume. The hems and fore sleeves required the most hand sewing, and it was necessary for all that cartridge pleating on the green portion of the dress. I hand sewed the hems because machine stitching would have been EXTREMELY visible on this fabric, and while I am not a purist by any means, I was trying to obtain a certain level of correct with my appearance.

This time also includes the hundreds of pearls, "jewels" and gold trim detail attached to to the dress and French hood. Those things were also hand sewn down. In retrospect I should have done the pearls before I added the felt backing to the forepart, but I wanted to make sure I had something finished I could wear vs. an embellished portion of a costume with nothing else attached to it. There is a small but growing benefit of the mass amounts of hand sewing I've been doing: getting better and ever so slightly faster.

Look at those tidy, tiny stitches!

ALTERATIONS: I did make a few.

The forepart directions called for a ribbon waistband. It just didn't seem like a substantial enough way to secure so much fabric to me. So I made the skirt with a normal waist band.

I had to change the shoulder straps to this gown. If I had followed the pattern markings, the gown would have slipped off my shoulders. Seriously. I had to remove about two inches off the straps to get the gown to sit where it wouldn't fall off. I'm not the most busty of ladies, so I'm sure that had something to do with it. Also, since this is a pattern made for a large commercial company, I'm sure they go by the "easier to take in than let out" motto. This changed how the sleeves were attached. I have to gather the fabric to get them to fit the opening. I have no idea if gathered sleeves are period correct or not, but I am not skilled enough to fool around with pattern scaling.

After some advice and research, I change the placement of the veil on the hood. The pattern called for it to be attached at the bottom part of the hood. It didn't seem right. It would have looked deflated. So it was moved to the top of the hood and flowed much better.
I did not use the gingham for the cartridge pleating. I marked my fabric with a chalk pencil and made the pleats that way. I didn't have any gingham on hand and I didn't feel like buying any.
The length of this dress had to be shortened. I'm 5'3" and I would have been tripping all over.

EASE OF INSTRUCTIONS: Very good instructions are included in this pattern. I had a bit of trouble with the steps involving how to turn under the fabric to create the pleating in the front. I'm not sure if how I did it was actually what I was supposed to do, or it just worked out for me.

FUN FACT: it is entirely possible to ride an elephant while wearing this dress.

My "sewing room" is in a fair state of chaos right now, but I'm hoping that once trim is down and the closet installed, I can unpack this costume and share more detailed photos of it.

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....