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Binding Stays and the Sisterhood of the World Bloggers

I have been a little quiet lately, but I have been busy doing sewing-related things! I went out of town recently for a wedding, and during the time on the plane and at the airport terminal I managed to do the binding on the top part of my 18th century stays (yes, I haven’t forgotten!) and start binding the tabs. I have also been thinking of questions and answers, as you will see below.

IMG_4757(The top part and the straps are fully bound, while the binding on the tabs looks much thicker because I haven’t sewn them down on the lining side).

Gina over at Beauty From Ashes has said “Tag, you’re it!” and given me the “Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award.”

The rules are

  1. Thank the blogger who nominated you, linking back to their site.
  2. Put the Award logo on your blog.
  3. Answer the ten questions sent to you.
  4. Make up ten new questions for your nominees to answer
  5. Nominate ten blogs.

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Gina’s questions for me are:

1.  What do you watch/listen to while sewing?
I watch Netflix. When I can, I match up the film with the period I am sewing.

2.  What costume/outfit has filled you with them most sense of accomplishment and joy?
Every new thing I make is my new favorite, but I think my 1830s Romantics gown always gives other people the most joy, probably because until recently, the 1830s was not a particularly common era to encounter in costuming. Plus the hair is just fun and silly!

3.  What is your favorite fabric/trim/embellishment to work with when making an outfit?
I like cotton. Really. It’s what I used when I started sewing myself sun dresses, and it’s easy to work with. Taffeta is also very nice to sew, and a close second, but I really like how I know I can throw a cotton project into the washing machine later, and not worry about any lint, chalk, or pen marks I’ve made. I don’t have that many all-cotton outfits, but I really want to make more.

4.  Do you take a lunch/food break while sewing or sew right on through the hunger?
I snack. Constantly. I have a bookcase in my office at work that has an entire shelf dedicated to snacks. I carry food in my purse wherever I go.

5.  Would you rather read something Sci-Fi or a historical/classics novel?
It depends. I have gone through phases of reading historical novels, sci-fi, fairy tales, ghost stories, comic books, true crime, and more. Right now I mostly read cooking and decorating magazines, National Geographic, and scientific articles. I currently have 2 historical novels I’ve purchased but haven’t had time to read.

6.  When going out to eat at a restaurant, do you like to sit outside in the fresh air or inside the restaurant?
I am pale and burn easily so I sit wherever there is shade.

7.  What has been your most favorite historical place to visit?
It’s so hard to choose just one! I have had a great time at Hearst Castle, the gardens at Versailles, Westminster Abbey, and the Forbidden City in Beijing. I love traveling; I wish I had the time and money to do it more often.

8.  What fills you with awe and wonder when you gaze upon it and why?
My 18-month-old son. It’s quite possible I’m simply ignorant about what is normal childhood behavior since he’s my first child, but I’m constantly surprised by the things he does. “Wait, are babies supposed to be able to do that? Oh look! He’s 5 months old and knows how to fake cough to get attention. I didn’t know a 1 year old could operate a remote-controlled car! Did he just grab the kitchen counter at 17 months and try to do a chinup?”

9.  If you could take a time machine and visit a certain time, what era/eras would those be?
I want to visit the future, ride around in spaceships, and see different planets and stars.

10.  Do you prefer to go barefoot or shod on the cool summer grass?  Have you ever noticed that no matter how hot it is, that grass is always cool?
Shod. I’m afraid of stepping in dog poop. Since I’m always wearing shoes I don’t notice the temperature of the grass.

Now for my questions:

1. Why do you blog?

2. Do you have a favorite era to sew for? Or an era you wish you could sew for?

3. What do you do “in real life”? Is it a career where you get to use your creativity?

4. Do you prefer to work with patterned or solid fabric?

5. Would you rather have a chef or a maid?

6. Do you have a favorite place to get fabric and other supplies?

7. Are you carrying on a family tradition of sewing, or are you the odd duck in your clan?

8. If you could have a dinner party and invite 5 dead celebrities, who would they be?

9. Is Halloween or Christmas your preferred holiday, and why?

10. Have you found a place that sells a high quality faux silk taffeta? (Please share!!)

I am going to break the last rule a bit about nominating 10 people. Some people are shy about revealing information about themselves, and I don’t want them to feel obligated to answer my questions. Plus, a lot of the people I would have liked to nominate have already been nominated! So I am going to open this up to anyone who wants to play, and perhaps spark some discussion. There are great blogs out there I haven’t discovered, or people who don’t have the time to blog but might have something interesting to say in the comments.

Downton Abbey Edwardian Maid Dress (Part 2)

The apron for my Downton Abbey maid dress is finished! I made the bulk of it over the weekend, but decided to change the straps a little last night.

IMG_4572Although I am planning to use Butterick B229 for the dress, I did not use a pattern for the apron. The Butterick pattern relies on ruffles and pintucks to add visual interest to the apron, but I wanted to use antique lace accents. You can see in the picture below that there is quite a lot of variation between the aprons on the show. There are different hem lengths, and different ways to arrange the lace on the upper part.

r-DOWNTON-large570I sewed 3 strips of insertion lace into a V shape, then placed another strip of lace across the top, to make the center of the apron top. I then used 2 long pieces of wide lace to finish off the sides.

IMG_4574The bottom of the apron is about 44 inches wide. (I used the width of the fabric I had, which happened to be the same width as the lace left over from the top part of the apron).  I added lace on the hem because it’s pretty, and to save me a few rows of pintucks! Pintucks aren’t difficult to do; I just avoid them because I’m a little OCD and it bugs me when they’re not perfectly straight and even.

IMG_4577Most of the aprons on Downton Abbey have plain, pintucked hems, but some have lace, like Ethel’s on the far right.

tumblr_m1hgaycfA01r9qe4yInstead of having two sets of ties (at the waist and upper back) I used one very long pair of ties. (They are about 2 inches wide, and 60 inches long, and probably too long). They come out of the shoulder lace, criss-cross on the back, go into loops sewn into the waistband, then tie at the waist. This way I only have one set of ties to worry about, and the straps across the back will hopefully stay more neatly arranged.

I wasn’t fond of the way the back looked in its first iteration . . .IMG_4579. . . so I pleated the lace where the straps meet, and I think it looks much better.

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See Part 1 here.

Downton Abbey Edwardian Maid Dress (Part 1)

My next project is an Edwardian maid dress, inspired by Downton Abbey. I plan to use a recently released pattern (Butterick B6229).

IMG_4411 IMG_4413I couldn’t find a lightweight wool I liked so I ordered some black Kaufman Kona cotton from Fabric.com. My order came with this cute sticker on it!

IMG_4410I ended up with an extra half yard for free! I also bough white cotton broadcloth for the apron. It was a very bright white, so I ended up tea-dyeing it, then washing it in Oxiclean to get rid of the excess color. It still appears white, but no longer looks so stark next to the antique laces I am using. The fabric on the right is my broacloth, next to some pure white fabric voile for comparison. IMG_4420I purchased a group of 20s and 30s lace trims from Etsy, that I will be using on the apron bodice, the maid’s cap, and the collar and cuffs of the dress. If there is enough I might use it on the hem of the apron, since I really dislike doing pintucks.IMG_4380 IMG_4381 IMG_4382 IMG_4383 IMG_4385I hope this will be a very comfortable day time outfit for Costume College!

18th Century Half-Boned Stays (Part 5): How to Do Eyelets

My old wrist injury is acting up, so I have to take a little break from hand-sewing, but since I have a few of the eyelets done, I thought this would be a good time to show how I do them.

This is not necessarily the historically correct way, but the method I find to be sturdy and aesthetically pleasing.

Punching a hole through the fabric weakens it, so I use an awl to poke a small hole, which I widen with a pointed chopstick. I then insert an eyelet through the widened hole, and then use a table-top eyelet/grommet press to set it in place. Finally, I sew over the eyelet with a button hole stitch to make it pretty.

The picture below, from right to left shows:

  1. Mark the hole with a pencil.
  2. Poke the hole with an awl.
  3. Widen the hole with a chopstick.
  4. Insert the eyelet from the wrong side (explained below).
  5. The eyelet set in by the eyelet press.IMG_4422

The eyelet is inserted from the lining side, with the flange remaining inside the stays. This results in the outside having a smaller surface area for you to wrap with thread. (If you are making a corset where the metal eyelets will show, you will insert the eyelet in the opposite direction, from the fashion fabric side).

Here is a view from the other side. From left to right you have the widened hole, the eyelet inserted, and the eyelet after being pressed. (There is some puckering in my fabric because I sewed the channels a little too tight for the double reed boning).

IMG_4424I use a Homepro eyelet setter with a size 6 die. It is quite heavy, and very easy to use. I have trouble applying enough pressure with hand-held eyelet pliers, and find using a hammer awkward, so this is a handy thing to have.

IMG_4426Use a tight blanket stitch over the eyelet to give it a finished appearance. You can use embroidery thread, or sewing thread. I used the latter, folding over a length of thread before threading the needle, resulting in a cluster of 4 threads each time. You can also just cast over with your thread, which is faster than using a blanket stitch, but I prefer the look of the latter.

IMG_4450See parts 1 and 2 and 3 and 4.

18th Century Half-Boned Stays (Part 4)

This is a quick post to show I haven’t forgotten about the stays!

I finished altering the channel placement in the tabs and put in the boning. I had to redo the linen lining because the stays “shrank” once the boning was completed.

It is hard to get a good picture right now because the stays won’t lie flat anymore due to the curved fabric pieces and boning.

IMG_4414The lining is sewn in with some large stitches to hold it in place while I do the binding. IMG_4418I have some vintage rayon petersham to use as binding. It coordinates with the blue thread I used to stitch the channels. I plan to find some blue cord for lacing to make everything match!

IMG_4419See parts 1 and 2 and 3.

GBACG A League of Their Own Picnic

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Last Saturday the AAGPBL Kenosha Comets (and players from a few other teams) had a “reunion” picnic in Cordonices Park in Berkeley, CA.

IMG_4213Most of us had the costumes we made for Costume College 2014, but we had a few new recruits. We also played a few innings of T-ball with everyone at the picnic, including the kids and people dressed in 50s dresses and heels!

IMG_4238 IMG_4240 IMG_4241 IMG_4249

Emily can do the splits!IMG_4266Kim is like an advertisement for Coke!

IMG_4272Since the last wearing I hemmed my dress and shorts a few inches shorter to match the other girls, and got a new belt. I also picked up a lot of dust on my shoes from playing ball!IMG_4260IMG_4274 IMG_4276 IMG_4278We also had a bake-off contest, with lots of delicious treats. IMG_4222

Here are the winners celebrating.IMG_4235

We also had lots of other non-dessert food, including this delicious sandwich loaf!

IMG_4209I hope this picnic becomes a yearly event!

pic by Lynne Taylor(Partial team photo by Lynne Taylor)

You can see the rest of my album here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/vivien_misc/sets/72157652398946625/

Costume College Plans and Sewing To-Do List

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Here we are in May, and I still have a long list of costumes to make. So far this year I’ve completed a Game of Thrones King’s Landing dress, an Oberyn Martell costume, my Chemise a la Reine and some accessories.  I have outfits planned for Costume College, and just for fun.

Onward!

1. I need to finish my silk stays which have been put aside a few times in favor of other projects.

2. My chemise dress needs a new white petticoat. The ones I wore with it recently were ivory, which work well with the whole ensemble, but if I want to wear the cotton chemise dress by itself I need a white petticoat.

3. For one of the days at Costume College I plan to wear a Downton Abbey Edwardian maid outfit. (It will be nice and comfortable to attend class in it!) I have the vintage laces needed for the apron and cap, but need to purchase the black dress fabric.perso_ph_gwen

4.  Another outfit planned for CoCo is a Victorian bathing suit, which I will wear for the Thursday night pool party. I have the pattern and fabric (a striped wool blend), but I need lining and trim.

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5. Just for fun, and to learn some new skills and work with new materials, I am planning to make Lady Tremaine’s outfit from the new Cinderella movie. Isn’t it so fun? I have been doing some research (for a future post!) and am in the process of accumulating fabrics for the dress. I don’t have a deadline for this outfit because I anticipate it will take a lot of work.

Lady_Tremaine_with_her_daughters

6. I recently acquired some lovely historical reproduction printed cotton fabric and plan to use it for an 1840s fan-front dress.

IMG_4194

7. The 1850s silk plaid dress from last year still needs a belt and silk undersleeves.

It’s an ambitious list; let’s see how much of it gets done for 2015!

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