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!

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.