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1850s Plaid Silk Dress for Dickens Fair

My next big project was supposed to be a gown for the PEERS Game of Thrones ball in February, but I’ve been distracted by my 18th century stays and now, a new 1850s plaid silk dress for the Dickens Fair.

I wasn’t planning to make a new dress for the fair, but then I ran across some lovely plaid silk for a bargain price of $60 for 6 yards of 54 inch fabric! It is a dupioni and not a taffeta but it’s not too slubby, and the busy pattern and dim light of Dickens will make it look nice.

Here are a couple sneak peeks.

Cartridge pleats! The skirt has its waistband, placket, hooks and eyes, and pockets. It still needs to be hemmed and trimmed. This was my first time doing cartridge pleats. I was originally planning to knife-pleat the skirt for speed, but then was home sick for 2 days with a cold, so what else can one do when Netflix is playing?

IMG_3017The pagoda sleeves are trimmed with satin ribbon.

IMG_3021The bodice is in progress. I still need to iron flat the seams, put in darts and closures, and do a lot of finishing. Matching curved plaid that isn’t symmetrical is driving me nuts! One part of a seam will match, and another not.

IMG_3022I had to pretty much redraft the pattern I’m using (Past Patterns 702), which was not designed for someone with my shape, but I will make a more detailed review in another post.

18th Century Half-Boned Stays (Part 2)

I’ve sewn together the silk cover and canvas interlining. Most of the boning channels are stitched, although the last two channels next to where the eyelets will be in the back are going to wait until I have a fitting.

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Since contrast stitching was popular with stays I decided to go with blue thread, and later I will have blue binding to finish the edges. To save time I did machine stitching, but if I have the opportunity to make another pair of stays I would prefer to do hand-sewing or not do contrast stitching. The colored thread make the areas where I had to backstitch on the machine much more obvious, such as the short horizontal boning channels. It’s also harder to control exactly where the stitches end on a sewing machine, and there were places where I had to rip out stitches because I wasn’t entirely happy with the placement. Oh well, lesson learned! Still, for a first try at stays I’m satisfied with how it’s turning out.

The remaining steps are determining the placement of the eyelets and final channels, boning with reed, attaching the lining, slashing the tabs, and then binding all the edges.

18th Century Half-Boned Stays (Part 1)

I have decided to make some 18th century stays, in preparation for making a chemise a la reine for April 2015, as part of the same group that have been 1830s Romantics and Gibson Girls!

I am using JP Ryan’s Half-Boned Stays pattern, and planning to bone with reed cane, both of which I purchased from Wm. Booth Draper.

stays0Currently I am past the mock-up phase and have cut out my pieces, and I’m getting ready to start sewing today (unless Costume ADD strikes! I admit I have been spending a lot of time online, looking at pictures of plaid dresses).

I have heard of people making mock-ups out of cardboard, which seemed like a nifty way to save fabric and avoid boning a mockup since the cardboard was so stiff. Plus taping is much easier than sewing, right?

It was a good experiment, but it didn’t work out too well for me. I did learn a few things though for the future, although I doubt I will be repeating this:

1. Don’t use masking tape. Try duct tape; it’ll hold better.

2. Don’t use super stiff cardboard. It won’t bend to fit you, even if you have a boyish figure.

3. Use cardboard pieces large enough that you can cut the pattern pieces out with the corrugated channels in the same direction as your boning.

4. Since you are taping, not sewing, don’t forget to take out the seam allowances in the pattern when cutting out the cardboard. I ended up having to cut the pieces down a bit, which negated some of the time savings I was counting on.

Here are my cardboard stays:

stays1I couldn’t get it to conform to my body well enough to be a proper mock-up, but it did give me enough of an idea that I felt comfortable cutting out the lining and putting it together like a second mock-up.

stays2The lining is made of linen scraps left over from my 1920s Daisy Dress.

I’ve cut out the interlining, which is white cotton duck, and the cover fabric, which is a cream-colored silk taffeta. The silk is thicker and stiffer than your usual taffeta, and was a remnant, so I decided it was perfect for this project. Here are a few pieces waiting to be sewn:

stays3This is my first foray into stays and corsetry. Wish me luck!

Jareth the Goblin King and Toby Labyrinth Costumes

If you are a child of the 80s I’m sure you loved the Labyrinth movie and have been secretly wanting an excuse to wear a David Bowie wig. Well, when you are a parent you have the perfect opportunity to dress up in a Jareth the Goblin King costume, and have your baby “dance magic dance.” This is what happened today:

DSCN1355I think my son looks a little worried that I might be the real Goblin King.

Jareth has a pretty snazzy bedazzled blue coat he wears during the ballroom scene, but I didn’t have the time to make it (this year).

BallroomHowever, I thought, “Hey I have gray leggings! And black leather gloves! And countless frilly shirts!”

david-bowie-labyrinthThe best part about this costume is that it can be put together by something I call “closet diving,” except for the hair, which is a newly purchased “blonde rocker” wig from Amazon. (My son’s red and white striped romper is also from Amazon). The boots are Tavistocks from American Duchess. The blouse is vintage Gunne Sax.  The vest is a cheapy Chinese corset with straps and a high back.

Overall, I think the combination of lacy shirt, corset and heeled boots makes for a more femme Goblin King, but I don’t think Bowie would mind some genderbending. =)

You remind me of the Babe. What Babe? The Babe with the power.

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Pretty Fabrics and Trims, CoCo Souvenirs and Costume College 2015!

I recently received this lovely sari trim in the mail. It will be part of a gown I am still accumulating materials for, but will become my Next Big Project. I love the golden threads and tiny pearls!

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It reminds me that I’ve acquired a number of pretty things at Costume College, either in the vendor’s hall or the bargain basement, that I still haven’t posted about.

First up is some silk fabric! The cream fabric on the left is a very thick taffeta. There is not a lot of it, but it is rather sturdy, so I am thinking it could make a nice corset or stays. The fabric on the right is a striped yellow and light brown taffeta. I am not sure yet what it is going to become, but I am leaning towards a jacket or a fancy petticoat of some kind.

DSCN1178I also got a woven upholstery fabric.  I like the color on both sides, and I will be cutting out some of the medallion motifs for the Next Big Project since the fabric is too heavy to use as is.

DSCN1180This is a netting trim, decorated with lace and polished cotton, that you might recognize as having found its way into my Gatsby Picnic Daisy Dress.

DSCN1184One of these vintage flowers, made in a country that no longer exists, was used for my Gatsby hat.

DSCN1191I also bought some yellow French ribbon from the same vendor, but didn’t end up using it on the hat. I did use it to tie up my hair for the gala.

DSCN1193From the same vendor I found this beautiful embroidered velvet ribbon. I have no idea what I am going to use it for, but I couldn’t pass it up! If anyone has some ideas, please let me know. Here is a picture of the front and back.

DSCN1195I also picked up some delicate green lace. I plan to cut apart the leaf motifs.

DSCN1187From the same vendor of vintage trims I bought this beaded lace. I have very little of it, so it may become a belt and cuffs on a dress.

DSCN1189At the Ladies Ascot Day tea party we were given yellow flowers to wear, commemorative notebooks and fake racing tickets.

DSCN1197 DSCN1204 DSCN1205 DSCN1207This is the badge and the ribbons I accumulated. Since my friends and I were called the “Rowdy Table” at the tea, maybe we should pass out “Rowdy” ribbons next year.

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I pre-ordered my 18th Century Hair and Wig Styling book, and had Kendra sign it at CoCo.

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At CoCo we all received these purple tote bags to carry around our loot!

DSCN1216Here is the flyer for next year’s Costume College 2015! The gala theme is Handsome Heroes and Legendary Ladies. The ice cream social theme is Around the World in 80 Days. (Perhaps I could dress up my hot air balloon ensemble). The pool party theme is Atlantis (but I already have a secret group costume in mind). The tea party is Nancy Drew. I think that is a good excuse for a 1930s dress, but I don’t have one at the moment. Sunday morning is Breakfast with the Bennets, and I already have a regency gown I can wear, but will need a fichu. I’ve got a lot of sewing to do!

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Gatsby Picnic and the 1920s Daisy Dress

Another lovely Gatsby Summer Afternoon has come and gone! I made a new dress this year, and although I did not have the name in mind when sewing, I am now calling it the Daisy dress. It’s yellow and white, with daisy lace around the bottom, plus Daisy is a character in the Great Gatsby. I hope I am nowhere near that frivolous, though!

Here I am in front of the Dunsmuir Hellman House in Oakland, CA. The picnic is held on the lawn, but there is a tour of the house for part of the day. Lots of people also bring their lovely vintage automobiles and they are parked on the lawn to contribute to the atmosphere.  There is also a live band, dance floor, performances and contests.

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The shoes are American Duchess. My hat is a straw cloche that I bought from eBay and redecorated with scraps from the dress, plus a vintage flower.

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My dress is primarily linen, with chiffon sleeves and accents of cotton, dotted net and rayon lace. I used the 1925 Zig Zag Dress pattern from Decades of Style #2502. The pattern is well-made, but perhaps runs a little large, unless you like the looser look.  I prefer something a little more fitted, so I ended up taking the bust in a few inches. The dress is made stitching all the gored skirt panels together, then edge-stitching that to the bodice.

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I liked how cool the linen was in the heat, but linen wrinkles like crazy! I had all the skirt trimmings but didn’t have my swatch with me when I had a impulse stop to get chiffon from the fabric store when passing by. I had to eyeball the color, then run out after a few minutes. It doesn’t look too off in the sunlight, but in indoor lighting the chiffon looks too orange.

I made a few little modifications in the pattern. I bound the neckline, then made a bow, whereas the pattern calls for a loosely-draped necktie. I also used yellow thread to make a decorative zig-zag pattern over the shirred portions near the shoulder seams.

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I also made some little tweaks to the sleeve pattern. I added 2 inches, since I have long arms, and used French seams. I also omitted the snaps on the cuffs, and made them a continuous band.

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Each year I think 1930s would be more flattering, but the 1920s shape is easier to sew. Then I sabotage myself by choosing a lot of embellishment! I spent a long time pinning and sewing down all the decorations around the waist and hem. The bottom of the skirt is decorated with pale yellow dotted netting, surrounded by triangles of bias tape. The hem is polished cotton with rayon daisy lace.

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As you can see here, I left the bottom layers unattached so the look wouldn’t be so flat, and so I can slip an iron underneath the netting to access the linen.

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I reused the slip from last year’s Gatsby dress.

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Dress project cost was ~$57:

  • 3 yards linen + 1 yard chiffon: $26.10
  • 10 yards bias tape: $7.49
  • Pattern: $18
  • Hem trimmings: ~$5 (the netting, polished cotton and lace all came together, and were purchased as part of a bundle with other items, so I this is an estimate).
  • Flower: 50 cents (it was part of a $3 cluster).

I’m not counting the shoes, hat and slip in the total cost.

Kathy of Stuff I Sew also made a cute sleeveless version of the dress from the same pattern. Are all these ladies lovely? Samantha is wearing a yellow vintage dress, and Amanda and Breanna made theirs. Breanna’s dress is also a Decades of Style pattern.

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You can see more pictures from the picnic at Flickr.

AAGPBL Kenosha Comets Uniform (A League of Their Own Baseball Costume!)

“There’s no crying in baseball!” -A League of Their Own

The most comfortable thing I wore at Costume College was my reproduction AAGPBL (All American Girls Professional Baseball League) WII-era uniform. There was no corsetry or special undies other than a pair of shorts, plus it was easy to pack (and wash afterwards!)

A group of us decided to do some DIY uniforms and dress up as the Kenosha Comets! (I am on the far left).

IMG_1179-2-(ZF-2606-04749-1-009)(Photo by Andrew Schmidt).

We decided to do their white home game uniforms instead of their light green ones because we had trouble finding the right color twill. We modified a basic shirtdress pattern by extending the front so that the dress buttoned off-center, like the ones in the movie, and added belt loops. I modified Simplicity 1880.

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Our team and arm patches were made by Emily, a team member, and Barbara of Of Corset.

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I was number 8, which was Pauline Pirok on the 1943 team. Sorry, my mannequin does not have scoliosis, I just put the uniform on funny.

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I added a pocket to the side, which wasn’t part of the original design.

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My hat was a custom order from The Turnip Seed, an Etsy seller who does monogrammed hats. I sent her a picture and she was able to do exactly what I wanted. Some of the other girls on the team got plain wool baseball hats from eBay and made their own patches.  Some other people bought the officially licensed hat from K&P Weaver.

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Underneath the costume we all wore green satin shorts. I drafted my own, but a pair of men’s silk boxers would probably work as well. From beginning to end the shorts took about an hour, and I think you can tell! I was rushing to get these finished, and was afraid my sewing machine was dying, since the tension started doing some weird things.

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For “cleats” I got a cheap pair of black sneakers at Target because I don’t like wearing very casual shoes, and didn’t see myself getting any use out of them the rest of the year.

We had a blast at Costume College, and plan to do it again next year! (The rest of the team photos are by Andrew Schmidt, official CoCo photographer).

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Did you spot the lonely Rockford Peach?

Improvements for the next wearing:

  1. I need to hem the dress shorter. I tend to make my skirts a little longer for modesty, but it’s pretty clear in the team photos it’s much longer than everyone else’s dress.
  2. New socks. I need to get some darker green ones.
  3. New belt. I made mine with D rings based on an example picture, then looked at some more old photographs, and found that most of the belts had buckles. I didn’t have time to make a new one.
  4. I had to order my materials online because I was home sick for a while with the flu. The “twill” that arrived in the mail was a lot thinner than what I was expecting. Part of me wants to remake the costume more properly with the right materials, but realistically, I’d rather use the time for something else!

Project costs: Although having to pay for online shipping for a lot of things upped my cost, overall this was not too bad. My general goal is to stay below $100 for each project, unless I am doing something extravagant, and I got to stick to my budget, even with shoes included!

  • Pattern: $4.99
  • Cotton “twill”: $22.39
  • Spruce Green Kona cotton: $4.62
  • Hat: $12 + $5 shipping
  • Buttons: $6.36
  • D rings: $1.09
  • Green satin: $5.89
  • Patches: $12
  • Socks: $5.99
  • Shoes: $14.99 + tax
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