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1840s Fan Front Dresses at the Dickens Fair – and Twins!

Last weekend I went to the Dickens Christmas Fair and wore my 1840s fan-front dress, along with a few other friends wearing the same style. One of my friends had the same orange and navy fabric that we purchased independently by coincidence, so we had a good time being twins!img_0498

I made this dress last year so you can read about my construction details on a previous post. I am wearing a bonnet by Lynne Taylor, a shawl from eBay, and ivory silk stockings and Tavistock button boots from American Duchess.img_0538img_0535

Our “backstory” for that day at fair was that Elizabeth had consumption (hence the dark eye make up). As her dear devoted sister I made her many nutritious broths and teas, which tasted like almonds.img_0509

She spent a lot of time coughing while the rest of us enjoyed ourselves!img_0502

I love this cotton print very much, and I think the orange bows that Elizabeth surprised me with were a nice touch this time.img_0507

Black Swan 1950s Ball Gown at the Vampire Ball

Last weekend was the annual Vampire Ball hosted by PEERS. I wore a dress I made from a 1950s pattern that I am calling my “black swan” ball gown because the many organza ruffles remind me of a tutu.image

The skirt of my gown had what seemed like miles of organza ruffles. I was able to save a lot of labor by using fabric that already came pre-ruffled. I thought that the strips of ruffles all ran parallel to each other, but actually change direction every few rows. It made the fabric a little harder to sew, but probably added more visual interest. It was certainly very fluffy! (I had many people asking to pet my skirt).image

The bodice was made using Vogue 8789. I highly recommend this pattern for its flattering shape and ease of construction. The facings for the neckline are cut as part of the bodice pieces, and folded inside and tacked. (I’m used to sewing and wearing historical garments that have more boning and structure up top, so this seemed to go together extremely quickly). The Vogue pattern has a short skirt and is meant for daywear, but I was able to adapt it to an evening gown by making the skirt longer and fuller.  I felt very elegant in this dress; I think my friend Kim captured my mood perfectly in the photo below.image

The sash was made of red stretch taffeta, tied into a large bow in the back. The front was accented by a rhinestone pin from my costume jewelry stash.image

Black dresses are always hard to photograph, so here’s a lightened close-up of the fabric:image

You can’t see my shoes but I was wearing my American Duchess tango boots to give me some extra height as I socialized with the undead.

Project costs:

Total: $109.64

I want to thank Fabric Wholesale Direct for providing all the fabric for this project! The ruffle organza was a very cool fabric and definitely turned heads!  It was also my first time using one-way stretch taffeta, and I found it to have a nice body and opacity, and be very easy to work with.

An Evening at the Moulin Rouge

Recently I went to a Moulin Rouge-themed event hosted by the GBACG. It took place at Michaan’s Theater in Alameda, a gorgeous Art Deco-style venue. There were talented performers, a chef making crepes, absinthe-tasting, dancing, beautiful decorations, and a lot of fun in a festive atmosphere.

I originally planned to wear my Gibson Girl dress, but it needed some alterations, and the weather was rainy, so I wore a traditional Indian salwar kameez and shawl with golden embroidery and matching jewelry. (Just like my last post I am wearing black and gold in front of a red curtain, plus the same shoes!)

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I bought the outfit several years ago to wear to an Indian wedding that took place in a temple with a strict dress code. I was a little nervous about wearing it out of context, but after a discussion with a Desi friend and her mom who assured me that it would not be offensive for me to wear the ensemble as formal wear in a respectful way, I went ahead and I’m glad I did! I purchased golden bangles and a jewelry set from Amazon.

There was a live band (Lee Presson and the Nails) that was full of energy!image

There were cancan dancers!image

Les Ballets Russe, a comedic dance troupe, performed as well.image

Artists drew portraits of attendees.image

There was also a fan dance and some singing, but I didn’t get pictures of all the performances because the venue had multiple areas to explore.

At the event there were some amazing decorations, like this heavily bejeweled elephant, which the organizer decorated by hand!image

I didn’t get a good picture because it was dark outside but there was also a lighted windmill standing in for the famous red windmill of the Moulin Rouge. I am looking forward to the next GBACG event. Lynne, the event coordinator, always thinks of every detail!

O-T-Tea Party 2016

Last week I went to the 2nd annual O-T-Tea Party in San Francisco. (The name is a reference to OTT, meaning over-the-top). The attendees were instructed to build opulent, imaginative, and or themed outfits using Japanese lolita fashion as a base.img_9740

I didn’t have time to make a new outfit from scratch, so I recycled an old dress I made years ago and jazzed up my coordinate with accessories and new embellishments. I wore the dress over a satin blouse with balloon sleeves and put on satin gloves with pearls and cutouts in the fabric. I carried a black velvet clutch purse with gold embroidery and had a golden rhinestone brooch at my waist. img_9704

I made my dress using a very soft and plushy black cotton velvet, screenprinted with gold. The crown motifs are accented with golden bows made of vintage jacquard ribbon and faux pearl and golden buttons I had in my stash.img_9751

I also wore a golden tiara with faux pearls (from Amazon) and a gold and black lace neck ruff from Aliexpress. These items were purchased new, but otherwise I already had a lot of things in my closet to complete my outfit!img_9755

I finished my outfit with Miss L Fire Vistas, which I previously wore with my 1920s outfit.img_9757

The event took place at the Sir Francis Drake Hotel, where we had delicious food, a vendor room, and many generous raffle prizes.

We were all given these pretty acrylic brooches with a number that was used for voting in the outfit contest.img_9749

Here are some group photos taken by the Lens Collective!lens-collective-1lens-collective-4lens-collective-2lens-collective-3

McCall’s 9900 Vintage Skirt Pattern

Happy first day of autumn! It’s the perfect time to build up a collection of wool skirts.

I used the last bit of fabric left over from my Victorian bathing suit to make a simple A-line skirt using McCall’s 9900, a vintage 1954 pattern.img_9587

The cutting took longer than the sewing because I only had about 1.5 yards instead of the recommended 2, and I had to very carefully line up the pieces and introduce some additional seams in order to match the stripes. To give it a bit more flare when wearing it I’ll probably use a petticoat or maybe add some horsehair to the hem later.img_9589

It’s not quite perfect, but was still satisfying!img_9592

The skirt closure has a side zipper and a button.img_9597

It was a nice easy pattern and I will definitely use this again!img_9588

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1930s Vintage Dress at the Gatsby Picnic

Yesterday was the annual Gatsby Summer Afternoon, hosted by the Art Deco Society at the Dunsmuir Hellman Historic Estate. (This wonderful event is open to the public, but buy your tickets early because they sold out this year!) There is a live band, dancing, gorgeous antique automobiles, and many great costumes. I found a car that matched my dress! image

The dress I wore is a vintage 1930s gown made of a very fine cotton or rayon net. It was such a lucky find in great condition!  I am wearing the 23 Skidoos from American Duchess and a hat I trimmed myself.image

I bought the hat base from Amazon and decorated with a scrap of green silk taffeta from my stash, and some pink blossoms from Michael’s.image

A group of us reserved an umbrella table and organized a luncheon.image

We also had delicious cocktails (that matched Samantha, winner of the fashion contest!)image

For the first time I was invited to sit inside one of the vintage cars! image

Bonus photo: I realized my dress matched the car so well it looked like I had extra “assets.” Hah!image

Here is the brochure with the schedule if you are interested in the many activities and performances that happen at the picnic. Hope to see you next year!imageimageimage

1830s Romantics at the PEERS Victorian Gothic Ball

This weekend I went to the PEERS Victorian Gothic Ball. We were invited to wear 1830s or 1840s clothing and dance the night away, along with actors portraying characters from Jane Eyre and readings by Mr. Edgar Allen Poe and other poets. There is a mini-reunion of our Hopeless Romantics group, along with a few new ladies in 1830s clothing.IMG_9359

I wasn’t quite sure until a few hours before the ball that I would be wearing that particular dress because I had a back injury and could not wear a corset or spend a lot of time with my arms above my head doing elaborate hair. Luckily I already had an easy hairpiece from a previous outing (with a tutorial here) and managed to squeeze myself into the dress sans corset by shifting my petticoats down a bit. The silhouette is not perfect, but I made it to the ball!IMG_9365I am wearing jewelry from Dames a la Mode and Pemberly slippers from American Duchess.

I tried to pose like a serious portrait.IMG_9308

A close-up of the hair and jewelry.IMG_9307

And I shall end with the delightfully silly menu from the bar that evening.IMG_9301