Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Pink Windowpane Check 1860s Day Dress

So, I took basically no photos of the making of this gown, nor did I document it...because I made it in about a week and didn't talk about it online because I wasn't sure if I'd be able to finish it or not!

Fortunately, it was a very simple dress and turned out to be perfect for the quite-warm weather we had over Memorial Day weekend this year.  The fabric is a semi-sheer cotton from Fashion Fabrics Club, and the dress is constructed with a fitted half-high lining, gathered bodice, simple coat sleeves, and a pleated skirt.  I'd love to say it's worn over perfectly period undergarments but in reality it's probably whatever chemise I could find (likely linen, regency), my Redthreaded 1860s gored corset, and cotton knit shorts, because I'm super lazy about my undies.  Sorry!  Oh, but I do have a Needle & Thread small wire hoop and two crisp cotton petticoats, so I've got that going for me.

Being so simple, the dress is really a blank canvas and the accessories do a lot to dress it up.  The belt is a length of velvet ribbon with an antique buckle from Originals by Kay, and the bonnet is a straw form from The Dressmaker's Shop.  My friend Elizabeth from That's Sew Minnesota decorated it for me and did an *amazing* job!  She used velvet millinery flowers from A Pink Swan and Timely Tresses, along with cotton net from Dharma Trading and checked ribbon from Fini Ribbon on Etsy.  The collar and cuffs are embroidered cotton lace from The Dressmaker's Shop on cotton organdy. 

Monday, November 26, 2018

Plaid Wool 1860s Day Dress

I made this dress to wear to Gettysburg Remembrance Day 2017, but then it was so cold and rainy that I got hardly any pictures of it the whole time we were there!  Fortunately it fit perfectly into my plans for Costume College, and I had a lot of fun wearing it again despite the possible pitfalls of wearing wool in July in California.  I was indoors most of the time, after all!

The gown itself went together super fast with no hiccups.  I love projects like that!  The collar and cuffs are cotton organdy with embroidered lace edging, and a velvet bow from M&J Trimming ribbon finishes things off nicely.

This is the gown where I used my modified coat sleeve hack to change up the sleeves that came with the pattern (Laughing Moon #111).  This is just one variation that you see in period sleeves--some of them are incredibly intricate!  This one was relatively simple but I love how it turned out.

Photo by Gloria from In the Long Run Designs
Featuring Samantha of The Couture Courtesan in her splendid black 1860s evening gown!

Since I didn't want to pack any bonnets for cross-country travel, I decided to make a fun, silly hair net instead.  I ordered a readymade base from Timely Tresses and decorated it with silk ribbon that I already owned, with a bow at the top and gathered loops down each side.  Again, this is on the simple side compared to some period examples but I think it gives just enough fluff to balance out a bold pattern like the big plaid.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Gold Striped Regency Gown

Photo by Gloria from In The Long Run
Like a lot of my ended-up-being-my-favorite projects, this one started mostly by accident.  I bought the fabric, a light, smooth striped cotton, several years ago from Regency Revisited, with no real plan as to what it would become.  I've offered it up for sale a few times during various periods of sewing room cleanout, but it remained stubbornly in my stash each time.

Then the V&A released this photo of a gown in their collections that previously had only had a photo of the back available. As soon as I saw those diagonal stripes on the front, I knew exactly what that fabric needed to become!

I used the Laughing Moon #126 drop-front gown pattern as a jumping-off point (which, to be fair, is how I use most patterns.)  I rotated the dart in the front bib piece so that the waist edge would be smooth and I could put a drawstring at the neck edge.  I ended up having to fudge a sleeve off a different pattern because I could NOT for the life of me find the sleeve piece in my pattern.  (I found it three months later in a perfectly sensible, obvious place, of course.)  I cut my skirt freehand and assembled everything in a period manner, ignoring the instructions almost completely.

The braided trim is extremely simple.  It's three straight-grain strips with the edges pressed under, braided together in a standard three-strand braid.  I love how it was so easy to do, but makes such an impact!

This gown's first wearing was at Jane Austen Festival in Kentucky, where it was H-O-T!  As you can see above, my enthusiasm levels were really excessive.  In all reality I had a lovely time, but it was definitely hard to feel motivated in the heat and humidity.

I also got to wear this gown at Costume College, which was much more hairdo-friendly.  I didn't bring my big bonnet to California with me, but I did add a red coral cross from Dames a la Mode to supplement the coral set that my mom helped me make.  I'm missing one bracelet in the above photo, but the set contains a necklace, earrings, and matching bracelets (and now of course a cross!)  Someday maybe I'll be able to add one of those gorgeous regency tiaras to the set, but until then, I'm super happy with how everything came out and look forward to wearing it again!

Monday, November 19, 2018

Striped Linen "Lewis & Clark" Gown from Past Patterns #031

At the William Holmes McGuffy Birthplace, Greenfield Village
For a while there it seemed like everyone and their mother had made a gown out of this pattern, and I've always loved the tiny back and unique shape of the armscye that it creates.  I also originally fell in love with this fabric from Burnley & Trowbridge, only to have it almost sell out before I could get any!  I ended up ordering a remnant and wistfully figured I could make an apron or something out of it.

Imagine my delight, then, when this lovely striped linen came back in stock!  I made sure to buy enough for a dress this time.  I deviated from the pattern a bit with the skirt--the original upon which the pattern is based had piecing and a shaped tuck in it to shorten the hem in front, but I didn't feel the need to copy that exactly.  Instead, I added three 1" tucks for decoration (and a little bit of body), and omitted any piecing.  I do want to extend the drawstring casing in the front waist--there is a LOT of linen gathered into a very small space right now and I can't actually get it as tight as I would like.  If I make the casing a little longer, the fabric will have more space and I will be able to tighten it fully.

The back of the bodice ended up being quite long on me when I made it as the pattern directed.  This final length is actually shortened--and I feel like it could still be shorter!  I already moved the skirt once, though, so I'm not terribly motivated to take it off again to move it up.  It's within the realm of acceptable which is good enough for me right now.

Fortunately if I do decide to raise the waistline, there's plenty of length in the skirt.  I certainly wouldn't want it any longer, since this is a nice sturdy dress that I can do work in!  For the event pictured, we madevarious fall-themed recipes over a fire to demonstrate historic cooking.

This is what I *actually* looked like for the whole was cold and a bit rainy, and since we were cooking I had my trusty checked apron on for almost the whole time!  But the dress served me well and I'm very happy with how it came out.  With a couple of tweaks I can see it becoming part of my regular reenacting wardrobe for a long time to come!

Friday, November 16, 2018

What I'm Working On: Larkin & Smith Gown x2

Back in 2016 I raved about the Larkin & Smith English Gown pattern, even though my first attempt ended up with some fitting issues.  They weren't super terrible, but enough that they bugged me and I sold the gown to someone presumably a little taller than I am.  Anyway, I always meant to try again, but it's only been this fall that I've finally gotten around to it.

I actually started two gowns at once, one in a luxurious maroon worsted wool from Burnley & Trowbridge, and one in a now-discontinued Williamsburg floral print cotton.

Because my last gown ended up too long in the waist because I neglected to account for the bulk of petticoats at the waist, I made both my petticoats first and did all my fittings over them.  I also took about an inch out of the bodice length right off the bat, and ended up shortening the shoulder strap as well.

My plan was to make one gown directly from the pattern, and one with a modified bodice to close in the center front.  Once I figured out the length pretty well, I cut a second muslin for my modified bodice.

Oops...cut my mockup a little too big!
Much better!!
After that, assembly is pretty straightforward!  I love the instructions, illustrations, and explanations in the pattern.  I think the back pleats are my favorite part.

Super duper glamorous fitting in the bathroom.
Then it's time to fit sleeves
Let me tell you, that is NOT easy on your own.

Then it's time for robings or shoulder straps!
I decided to add lacing to the stomacher-front gown for ease of use.  In a throwback moment to the early days of blogging and costuming online, I recalled that Jen Thompson of Festive Attyre once used lengths of ribbon to create ladder lacing on her Italian Renaissance gowns.

Jen's original idea, found on Google Images via Pinterest.
I decided that it would be quicker and more convenient to use twill tape to lace through rather than making eyelet strips and attaching them.  This also allowed me to butt the lacing right up to the edge of the bodice so that there wasn't any funky tension anywhere.  I can't document this method AT ALL (unless you count documenting it to the late 90s or early 00s as historical documentation?) so please don't think this is some great discovery of 18th century fashion.  This is just me wanting to struggle less while dressing myself in this gown!

The stomacher will pin to the bodice under the robings but over the lacing.

I think the Fitbit wristband really pulls it all together.
This is where I run out of photos, but as of this posting, I've hemmed both gowns and petticoats, finished the robings, and just have a stomacher left to make.  So close!  We'll be in Williamsburg this time next week, so A) I'd better get that stomacher done right quick! and B) I hope to take photos of the completed gowns while we're there!

Yearly post? Hope not!

Some friends and I were talking yesterday about how we missed long-format internet interaction, i.e. blogging.  I suppose I really started with LiveJournal, over a decade ago now, and I used it like an actual journal (which means my earlier entries are SUPER cringey since I was both recording my private thoughts and also a teenager...eeeek!)  But anyway, over time that platform sort of passed into the ether and blogs became the Big New Thing, but now even those have given way to Instagram and Facebook.  I love the convenience and instant engagement with both, but it's really hard to make actual *records* of things and have them be searchable afterwards.  My blog was never super popular, but at least I could go back and find my own posts on things!  I should get better at titles though.  Puns are fun but make searching archives harder!

Anyway, I've been thinking about blogging-and-or-journaling a lot lately, even before the discussion came up.  This fall I've been in a real funk and haven't felt very much like communicating at all, much less taking the time and effort to write things out--and feeling like I haven't got anything worthwhile to say anyway (thanks, depression.  You're a real pal.)  But, I really miss reading blogs and journal posts (come join us on Dreamwidth!) and the saying is something like, be the change you want to see in the world, right?  So here I am!  Blogging.  No shiny pictures or anything.  No ground-breaking, compelling research to share.  Just...trying to get some thoughts out there to knock the rust off my ol' brain.

What would you like to read about?  I've done stuff, I even have pictures...I'm just all at sea about what to post.  But I went to Jane Austen Festival in Kentucky and never said a word about that, and Costume College was really great.  My husband and I are going to Williamsburg for Thanksgiving so that would be probably fun to talk about at some point, me pick material!!