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Victorian Bathing Suit

Costume College is just days away! Yesterday I finished my Victorian bathing suit for the Thursday night pool party.

I was inspired by this bathing suit from the Met Museum.

IMG_4848I made mine out of a gray and black wool/polyester blend. I didn’t have time to order red petersham, so I used grosgrain ribbon for the trim. It looks nice on straight lines, but doesn’t curve as well as I would have liked for the collar and sleeves.

Here are a few quick photos of the outfit!

IMG_4932Oops, I didn’t notice I put my belt on off-center.IMG_4934 IMG_4936 IMG_4938I didn’t have time to make bathing shoes, so I bought some cheap $6 flats from Amazon and used up the rest of the ribbon I had left. This photo looks like it was taken by someone else, but really I leaned over, then turned it upside down!IMG_4941I used Ageless Patterns #1410 to make the dress and bloomers.

1410The pattern isn’t awful, but I can’t really recommend it. Ageless Patterns are traced from extant patterns and magazines of the period, which makes them historically accurate, but lacking in directions and specifics about size. This pattern was simply listed as “medium.” (I think it fits more like a large). The arm holes are also strangely big, the shoulders are rather low, the sleeves didn’t quite fit right, and the collar piece was completely useless. It was a bizarre shape and didn’t fit. I eventually gave up and just bound the neckline.

The good thing about the pattern, aside from the sleeves and collar, is that it is ridiculously easy to put together. The dress consists of one back piece and 2 front pieces, and you gather at the waist. The bloomers consist of a front and back for each leg.

Since the pattern was large on me I was able to cheat on the closures. I put an elastic channel into the waist, which is covered by the belt. The dress from the waist down is sewn shut, and the top half closes with hooks and eyes. The buttons are false! No making buttonholes! I just pull this dress over my head, put the belt on, and then hook up the top. Super easy, and comfortable, too!

Project cost:

  • 4 yards wool blend: $54.35 including tax (hooray for the clearance table at Britex!) – I still have more than 1 yard left
  • 3 yards Kaufman Duet Linining: $6.86 including tax and shipping (with a coupon and free shipping from Fabric.com)
  • 2 rolls of grosgrain ribbon: $5.23 including tax (with a coupon from Michael’s)
  • 10 buttons: $0, kit left over from my maid dress
  • shoes: $6.27 including free shipping from Amazon
  • pattern: $15 + $4.85 shipping from Etsy

Total: $92.56

(Edit: Post updated! I forgot to add in the price of the pattern).

Midsummer Night’s Ball and Tulle Fairy Tale Skirt

Last night I went to the Midsummer Night’s Ball, hosted by Sam and Monica of Overattired.  I made myself a tulle skirt filled with flower petals that I am calling the fairy tale skirt. IMG_4895I originally intended the skirt to be worn with a mint green petticoat and top, so it was made with a green waistband matching sash. However, since I am busy sewing for Costume College I did not have time to make a mint green top so for the ball I decided to go with a cream coordinate, and wear the skirt over a H&M chiffon dress I already had in my closet. This is what the skirt looked like at home.IMG_4787The tulle and chiffon are from Fabric Wholesale Direct, and I wrote a step-by-step tutorial with pictures for their website. Tulle skirts are easy and fast!

My antlers are from Sweet Mildred, and are lovely both from the front and back.IMG_4916 IMG_4919The shoes are an eBay find from a few years ago. I’ve also worn them with a 20s tea outfit.

IMG_4915The belt is also from eBay, and the acorn necklace is from LOTV Designs.IMG_4921A silly pose!

IMG_4897At the ball I delivered a dress I made to Jean, editor of San Francisco/Science Fiction Magazine. I made this for myself years ago, prior to this blog, so I don’t have any construction photos to post. I am glad the dress has found a new home! It is a damask dress based on Italian Renaissance design, and trimmed with gold and white twist with gold beads. I also made the puffed-sleeve blouse worn underneath. IMG_4910

18th Century at the Pelican Inn

Last weekend a group of friends decided to gather at the Pelican Inn in Muir Beach to have dinner and take photos. The Inn is a very charming building, and we thought it would be nice to go there wearing 18th century outfits, and also visit the beach just down the road. I also finished my hedgehog wig, and so it was the perfect opportunity to take daylight pictures of my sheer striped silk organza chemise a la reine!

DSCN1524 DSCN1525I also wore my red hooded mantle when it got cooler in the evening on the beach. It matched perfectly with my red American Duchess Kensingtons!

DSCN1557I made the wig the day before, so it was a little rushed and not perfect, but I think a little more careful trimming will make it into something quite nice. I used the instructions in Kendra’s 18th Century Hair book, and I highly recommend it. There are wonderful step-by-step instructions and lots of color photographs. The overall steps were:

  1. Comb out a portion in the back that will remain straight.
  2. Put the rest of the hair in curlers.
  3. Boil the wig to set the curls.
  4. Tease the curls, except for 2 large side curls.
  5. Trim off the extra length.

We had a delightful time at the Inn, and it is a nice place for a small gathering.

DSCN1598Although you must be on the lookout for highwaymen!

DSCN1532But fear not, you may be rescued!

DSCN1578Or maybe not.

DSCN1572For more fun photos see my Flickr album.

Downton Abbey Edwardian Maid Dress (Part 3) Finished!

My Downton Abbey Edwardian maid outfit is finished! It was actually completed last week, but I didn’t have time to take and post photos.

Here are the front, side, and back views with the apron on:

IMG_4826IMG_4828IMG_4830Here are close-ups of the top and bottom of the apron, featuring the same antique lace:
IMG_4836IMG_4839The lace on the collar and cuffs are the same, and also antique lace purchased in the same lot as the apron lace.

Here is the dress by itself. Although I originally thought of using wool, I ended up using black Kaufman Kona cotton, which I found to be decently thick, and a good value. I made the fabric-covered buttons using a button cover kit.

IMG_4816I used Butterick B6229 pattern for the dress (but not the apron), which I recommend. I found the pattern to be true to size, and the pieces fit together nicely. I used the pattern mostly as-is, with a few small changes:

  1. I made the cuffs smaller. I found them to be disproportionately large compared to my small hands.
  2. I shortened the height of the collar. If I followed the pattern the collar would be rather tall, and cover most of my neck. Although you can find old photos of Edwardian maids with similarly high collars, I wanted the shorter collars featured on the show.
  3. I lengthened the belt an inch or two; I found it a little short.
I normally don’t pay full price for a Big 3 pattern, but it was so new it was not in my local Joann’s or being sold for cheap on eBay, so I had to order it online. However, given how easy it was to work with I think it was worth it!

For the headpiece I sewed two pieces of antique lace together and gathered the center.

IMG_4832

I sewed wig clips to the back to hold them in my hair.IMG_4835  Project total costs:

  • Antique lace: $16.95 + $2.50 shipping (from Etsy)
  • Butterick pattern: $12.50 + $5.58 shipping and tax (from butterick.com)
  • 5 yards black Kaufman Kona cotton: $24.82 including tax (It’s normally $5.98/yard from Fabric.com but I had a coupon, free shipping bundled with other items, and a bonus half yard for free)
  • 3 yards white cotton broadcloth: $8.24 including tax (normally $2.98/yard at Fabric.com)
  • Button cover kit: $5.75 + $2.25 shipping (from Etsy; I still have buttons left over)

Total cost: $78.59. (I still have 2 yards white cotton, and a lot of lace and buttons left over for another project).

See parts 1 and 2 for more details.

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.

FullSizeRender

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!

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