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Gibson Girls at the Gaskell Ball

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(Oops, I thought this was published May 2, but apparently it was in my draft folder the whole time!)

As promised, here are some pictures of me wearing the Gibson Girl dress, and all the gorgeous ladies at the Gaskell Ball who also did a Gibson theme.

I apologize for the lighting in the photos. I took these with my phone because I forgot my camera in my sewing room after taking pictures of the completed gown.

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There were a group of 8 of us that did Gibson Girl dresses, with sleeves running the gamut from off-the-shoulder to giant fun poof!

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A back view. I loved the variety of colors and textures!

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We got a little saucy at one point.

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Which caused one of the girls to faint.

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But she revived.

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And we had a lovely time!

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Two things I would like to point out:

1. Half of us were wearing shoes from American Duchess, who makes comfortable, danceable, historical footwear. I am currently waiting to receive a pair of “Gibson” Edwardian shoes I ordered. I highly recommend American Duchess!

2. The lady in the very lovely dress with the roses is Natalie, and you can read about her gown at Frolicking Frocks. I love how detailed her construction notes are!

ImageThe rest of my photos are on my Flickr account: http://www.flickr.com/photos/vivien_misc/sets/72157633356227565/

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Gibson Girl Project (Part 5): Finished Dress

My Gibson Girl dress is finished and I wore it to the Gaskell Ball last night. (The next post will feature pictures of a bunch of Gibson Girls from the ball!)

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Gibson Girl Project (Part 4): Bodice

I have some little tweaks to do but the bodice is nearly complete!

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As usual, I underestimated the amount of hand-sewing required. I also have some smoothing to do; I’m not entirely pleased with the little puckers.

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For more construction details, peek inside.

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Gibson Girl Project (Part 3) Underwear: Petticoat & Corset

I have been working on the Gibson Girl trained skirt, hand-sewing the hem on the train. Right now I am trying to figure out the lace flounce before I post some progress photos.

However, my undergarments are ready!

I sewed a petticoat out of a striped taffeta I’ve had for years. (You may recognize it as the lining to this coat).

Here is a side view.

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Keep reading for more pictures of the petticoat, and details of my beautiful new corset!

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Gibson Girl Project (Part 2) Materials

Yesterday I finished gathering my materials for my Gibson Girl dress. I will be using Truly Victorian’s 1893 Bell Skirt pattern (#TV292).

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I am using a periwinkle blue satin for the dress. (The fabric is darker than how the photo turned out). The hem will be trimmed with an embroidered black netting lace, and I also bought some lovely appliques from Britex to use on the bodice and skirt front.

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Gibson Girl (Part 1)

My next major project is to make a Gibson Girl ensemble for an event in April.  I’ve been looking at pictures from the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s website, and I rather like some of the elements in this beautiful butterfly dress.

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(Source http://www.metmuseum.org/collections/search-the-collections/80093882?img=4)

In particular, I like the use of appliques, and the embroidery around the bottom of the bodice. If you look carefully there are little rhinestones scattered about.

I am not sure yet about the dress design but I knew I wanted embroidered tulle lace. I decided to buy some great lace and then find a solid-colored fabric to match, instead of the other way around. My color scheme will be baby blue, accented by black. It reminds me of Alice’s dress in Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland.

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2018 Costuming Plans

I know I have 3 other projects I should blog about before talking about new ones (sorry, so behind!), but it seems appropriate to follow up my 2017 costuming year in review post with 2018 costuming plans.

My big project for the year is Vice Admiral Amilyn Holdo, a character from The Last Jedi. I love the draping of her gown and I’m really excited for this costume!IMG_6163

Plus she has some cool space jewelry like a halo, arm cuffs, earrings, and rings.amilyn-holdo

I’d like to get this done for Silicon Valley Comic Con, and also wear it to Costume College.

My other projects are planned around various events, mostly hosted in the Bay Area:

  1. February: 18th century gown for a gathering to see the “Casanova: The Seduction of Europe” exhibit at the Legion of Honor Museum. I may make a new wig and accessories for an old dress, or make a new outfit from scratch. Let’s see how much time I have!
  2. March: Regency day dress for a themed event at a winery.
  3. April: Amilyn Holdo costume for Silicon Valley Comic Con.
  4. April: Wild West outfit for a train ride/BBQ event. I’ll be wearing my steampunk striped blouse with a bicycling skirt and some other things in progress.
  5. June: 14th century cotehardie for a Viking/medieval/fantasy picnic.
  6. July: Costume College prep! Various new underpinnings, accessories, fixes, finishing touches, etc. for the things I will wear. Plus SECRETS!
  7. October: Bustle or natural form evening gown for dinner party on a riverboat. I might upcycle an older outfit, like my Gibson Girls dress, which has only had one outing because that’s what a sane person would do. Unless I see something shiny.
  8. October: 1950s Halloween dress for a mid-century potluck party.
  9. December: 1830s day dress for Dickens Fair. I have made an 1830s evening dress before, but I have been wanting a day dress for a long time!

Hmm, written out that looks a little crazy. Luckily, some of these will involve patterns, shapes, or eras I’ve worked with before. I also have the main fabric already for every single item on the list except one. Thanks stash!

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!

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!

1830s Romantic Dress (Part 1)

As previously mentioned, the ladies who did the Gibson Girl dresses last year are doing 1830s for the April Gaskell Ball. I made a Pinterest board with ideas for gowns and hair.

Here is my planning sketch, based on an extant gown with sheer sleeves. Unfortunately, I do not know the source because the image was found uncredited from Tumblr.

1830s sketch

My materials will be ivory silk taffeta (left over from my wedding dress), embroidered laces from Etsy and eBay, and pink ribbon flowers left over from a Gatsby dress project. I am hoping to piece together enough fabric from my stash for the lining.

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I am using the Truly Victorian 455 pattern for the bodice, with a slightly different sleeve. I will be using the beret sleeve pattern, but might make it slightly smaller since it will be under a sheer sleeve.

1830s pattern

I am not using the TV455 pattern for the skirt, because I am upcycling part of my wedding dress. I am doing this for several reasons.

1. It will match the leftover fabric I am using to make the bodice.

2. I haven’t worn the dress for several years, and never got around to dyeing it a different color, so at least this way part of it will appear in public again.

3.  The dress was custom-made for me by a friend of mine (who sells Regency/Victorian/Steampunk menswear in her shop), and is very special, so I don’t want to give away or sell the gown.  However, I can’t wear the dress as-is because during my honeymoon a family member decided to soak my dress in the bathtub instead of taking it to the drycleaner like I wanted, and the silk taffeta literally shriveled up. I spent a lot of time steaming most of the wrinkles out, but could not save the ruffles. They are now sad, wrinkled and limp, instead of crisp and happy, and don’t look right on a formal ballgown.

4. It’s a shame to let so much silk go to waste!

I have cut out the pattern pieces, and am now slowly picking out the stitches to remove the rows of ruffles from the skirt. (Thankfully, the beautiful bodice is still in good shape and can be worn again).

weddingPhoto by Lydia Chen Photography.