Sunday, February 27, 2011

Midwinter Ball 2011

The 8th Arkansas' Midwinter Ball is without a question one of my favorite dances of the entire year. It's five hours long, with an excellent caller and excellent company, and lovely refreshments. To me, a long event like that with several breaks and a great variety of dances feels very authentic. People used to do this for fun, right? After an event like this one, I can definitely see why!

Our dear Michael was in attendance again this year, looking dashing as always. There was actually a quite good ratio of men to women, and the mingling was quite pleasant. Some familiar faces, some new ones, but everyone did a good job of dancing his or her duty.

My lady mother* attended with me, and the plaid evening bodice got another outing. Since it was made for me, it's a bit large on her narrower shoulders. However, having bought eleven yards at the time of purchase, there should be more than enough to make yet another bodice (or two...), this time specifically for a smaller frame.

*Romeo and Juliet, anyone?

Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Civil War is Everywhere

In lieu of actual content (just until I take photos!), I'd like to share a link to one of my favorite distractions web comics. It's about a charming group of young adults who work at a historic site in Arkansas. It is called Dovecote Crest, and definitely deserves a look (and another, and another...)

Sunday, February 6, 2011

A Sewist's Poem

Frustration by Katie Jacobs
Stupid whitework lace,
I basted you in four times.
Why won't you behave?

Friday, February 4, 2011

The Real Regency

One of the hardest things I faced when getting into 1812 reenacting was to divorce myself from the Hollywood idea of regency fashion and adjust my aesthetic to a more faithfully historical style. In the past several years, there have been many wonderful (and not so wonderful) movie and television features set in the early 19th century, with costumes ranging in accuracy from "why God, why?" to "hey, that's not bad." However, upon continuing my research, I've found that few of them offer a satisfyingly immersive idea of regency fashion.

For a lot of people, Jane Austen films and BBC miniseries are their first introduction to regency fashion. I could go into design choices and appealing to a modern audience, but really, it's probably all been said before. The real point is--where do you go for a more historical approach to early 19th century clothing? How do you go one step beyond the stage and screen?

This past year, my dear friend Nuranar provided the world with a wonderful resource. She laid hands upon hundreds of fashion plates for the 1800-1813 and created a set for each year on Flickr! Her photostream is here, where you can access all the 13 years of fashion-y goodness. Here are a few of my favorites, too!

To a Good Home

Why no, this is not a new project. Actually, it's quite an old one...and now it's for sale on my Etsy. There's absolutely nothing wrong with these stays...except that they don't fit me. I made them, and they were beautiful...and they weren't what I wanted, so I made another pair. As such, however, they're basically brand new. I put them on literally long enough to decide I didn't really love them, and then took them off again, and they've been staring at me mournfully ever since. It is time for them to go to a good home.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

At One Fell Stitch

I make no secret of the fact that I was trained as a theatrical costumer. True, my current creative outlet is historical reenacting, a field in which historical accuracy is highly prized--including the methods by which one constructs one's garments. However, I also make no secret of the fact that I don't really enjoy sewing. As such, you'll be able to pry my sewing machine out of my cold, dead fingers about the time Santa relocates his workshop to the frozen plains of Hell. Machine sewing is sturdier than (my) hand stitching when it comes to long seams, and is invariably neater and quicker. I have immense respect for people who construct garments entirely by hand...but I'll probably never be one of them. There are a few things, though, that I insist upon doing by hand. One of those things is lining installation.

A popular method I've seen for lining garments is bag lining, which involves making your lining and outer layer separately, sewing them together with right sides facing, and then turning the garment right side out. This method, while quick and machine-able, has never really worked for me. I've used it before, and it can be done to look well on a historical garment, but I find that the lining tends to want to roll to the outside, and be visible around the edges. Instead, I prefer to install my linings by hand, wrong sides together, with a fell stitch.

In this method, I construct my lining and outer layers separately, and then press the seam allowances around the edges to the inside. I try to make the lining fractionally smaller than the fashion fabric, so that the lining won't roll to the outside. After that, line up the main seam lines, and stitch away! Threads magazine has a great tutorial here.

Another stitch to be used in the same method for period garments is mentioned on page 8 of Linda Baumgarten's Costume Close-Up. It's called le point a rabattre sous la main, give or take a few accent marks. (Sorry...not a French-speaker). On principle, it works similarly to a fell stitch, but it's not as invisible. On the wrong side of the garment, the stitch is angled to look like a whip-stitch. On the right side, a tiny stitch is taken through the front of the fashion fabric, like a wee little running stitch. The needle comes back up through on the wrong side, catching a few threads of the lining on the way. Wash, rinse, repeat. A larger version of the photo above can be seen here, which illustrates the look of the right and wrong sides of a garment lined in this method.

I hope you find this interesting, if not helpful. As always, any questions, feel free to contact!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The Grand Stash Cleanup

Well, friends, I have entered the future. I set up an Etsy store.

At the moment, I'm clearing out my fabric stash. There are some hidden gems in there, and I've owned most of it for years. Time to admit to myself that I won't be using it...and to pass it onto someone who will! Keep an eye out, though. I'm hoping to offer more in the future, fabric and clothing-wise!