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Author Archives: freshfrippery

Historical Belle: My 18th Century-Inspired Beauty and the Beast Costume

I made an 18th-century inspired mashup of Belle’s iconic yellow ballgown and her hooded winter outfit from Disney’s Beauty and the Beast.

The costume has aspects inspired by 18th century fashion but is not a historically accurate reproduction particular to a specific decade. I was heavily inspired by Brunswicks (the hooded traveling outfits) but you can also see elements from robe a la anglaise gowns, caracao jackets, and side-opening petticoats.

The yellow fabric I used is a quilted cotton harvested from a king-sized bedspread! It saved me a lot of time quilting, but the material created some challenges: I had to employ strategic cutting in order to maintain symmetry in the stitch designs in the final costume, and to keep the finished edges in the skirt, peplums, sleeves, and hood. The winter-appropriate thick cotton batting meant to avoid bulky seams I had to carefully pick out excess batting in the seam allowance of each pattern piece while maintaining (or restitching) the lines of quilting stitches. Raw edges were also serged to prevent fraying and loss of batting. Interior excess seam allowance had to be sewn down by hand since ironing was insufficient to keep seams pressed flat. In addition, the pleated areas were too thick to fit into the sewing machine and had to be stitched by hand.

However, I really like how the thickness of the material gave the garment a lot of structure, especially in the jacket peplum.

The scallops were also a feature I liked.

I lined the hood with scraps of white silk dupioni left over from a previous project. It was hand-stitched in so I could keep the scalloping on the hood.

The jacket was decorated with realistic foam roses on wired stems that I trimmed and shaped with pliers to create a base for hand-sewing onto the jacket.  Each rose is accented with red crystals I glued on individually using E6000 Fabri-Fuse glue, which I highly recommend. (This is not the regular E6000 glue. Fabri-Fuse is low-odor, dries quickly, and comes in a squeeze bottle with a sharp tip for detail work).

The yellow and white striped bows are made from vintage French ribbon with picot edging, accented with antique lace. Each sleeve has embroidered tulle lace, large red satin bows, and a rose. 

My necklace and earrings were purchased from In the Long Run Designs on Etsy. The mirror was purchased from Amazon (affiliate link).

Underneath the gown I am wearing 18th century silk and linen stays made by me.

The lace-front wig was styled by me and decorated with the same roses, crystals, and ribbon as the jacket.

The wig base is a long black wavy wig that I purchased from Amazon (affiliate link).

Pattern Info:

The outfit was a combination of self-draping and Frankensteining. The main body of the jacket and sleeves used a heavily modified version of the Period Impressions 1780 Polonaise pattern, which I previously used for my Outlander dinner party dress. However, I took out some back seams and altered the sleeves around the elbow region. The peplum was created by holding and pinning material up to the upper jacket on the dress form until I got the length and fullness I wanted.

The hood and lining are pleated in a fan shape, and the pattern was adapted from the hooded cloak pattern in Linda Baumgarten’s Costume Close-up book (Amazon affiliate link).

The hood doesn’t stand up by itself, so it’s being held up here by a piece of boning to show you the shape:

No pattern was needed for the quilted petticoat, which was constructed in the same manner as your usual 18th century petticoat with side slits. The front and back panels were pleated into twill tape that served as waistbands and ties. Because of the thickness of the material there were less pleats than usual and I left a large section of the front center unpleated to allow for the jacket to sit flat over the stomach.

Materials used:

  • BrylaneHome king-sized quilted bedspread (in “aspen gold” color): $49.90 from Amazon (affiliate link).
  • Two boxes of artificial foam roses: $17.99 each from Amazon (affiliate link)
  • Red crystals (with lots left over!): $7.59 from Amazon (affiliate link)
  • Fabri-Fuse glue: $8.00 from Amazon (affiliate link)
  • Twill tape, thread, hooks/bars, red ribbon, hair clips from stash: ~$5
  • Vintage striped ribbon: $10 (this is a guess because I don’t remember how much I paid for it from a vendor table at an event)
  • Vintage lace: $0 (gift from a friend)
  • Sleeve lace: $8.27 with tax and shipping from Wikilaces on Etsy
  • Hood lining: $0 (scraps from previous project)
  • Lace-front wig: $36.99 from Amazon (affiliate link)

Total: ~$161.73
(I’m not including the shoes or jewelry because those were items I already owned for other costuming purposes. About $40 of the total is a wig I can reuse, plus I had some left over materials, so I’m calling this project a win for my pocketbook!).

I had a lot of fun making and wearing this costume. I even entered it in my first ever cosplay contest and was delighted to be a finalist in the Cosplay with Singer contest this fall! Here’s a video of the costume in action that I made for the contest:

Enjoy this silly video of me trying to fit my large costume through a small space.

Thank you for reading!

1930s Floral Blouse and Sporty Shorts

1930s Floral Blouse and Sporty Shorts

It’s not a secret I love the 1930s, and my usual daily uniform consists of a buttoned vintage-style blouse, high-waisted pants, and a cardigan. I originally purchased the Wearing History 1930s Day or Evening pattern intending to make solid-colored, long-sleeved, long-peplumed blouse for a fall outfit, but decided to start with the short-sleeved, short-peplumed version.

The fabric I used is a Liberty of London print that was a holiday gift. It’s a modern print with flowers and strawberries but I thought suited the 1930s pattern very well. The green buttons, chartreuse grosgrain ribbon, and white buckle were all vintage.

I did modify the pattern to allow for buttons since that’s my favorite style of blouse. The original pattern has 2 closure options for the center front: a hidden placket with snaps, or button loops and buttons. This means if you use the pattern as-is, your right and left fronts will meet in the center. If you decide to modify the pattern to have buttonholes, you need to take account adding enough ease in your fabric to allow for the overlap. You don’t need to change any other pattern pieces. Please also note that if you like the center bow in the stock images, using the pattern as-is may be a better choice.

My shoes are from American Duchess. The hat is an 18th century straw bergere that I trimmed with flowers and ribbon. The purse is a crocheted 1930s reproduction.

Another small modification I made was to take the shoulders in slightly. This is not an issue with how the pattern is drafted; I have narrow shoulders so that is a change I normally make for many patterns. The other consideration is that strong shoulders are historically appropriate for 1930s and 1940s blouses, but can be overwhelming on my smaller frame. I cut out the blouse and sleeves as directed, but at the attachment point I took a larger seam allowance in the upper half of the armscye. This allows for a slight reduction in both the bodice and sleeve without the need to redraft.

I paired this blouse with a some sporty shorts I made out of a white pique fabric. I made the shorts with the same pattern hack I used to make my plaid shorts: I used the upper portion of the pants of the Decades of Style 1930s Last Resort Beach PJs pattern I used for my own set then added a waistband.

There is an invisible zipper down the center back seam and a hook and bar at the waistband. The bottoms are finished with simple turned up hems.

I’m happy to add this 1930s blouse to my wardrobe and to recommend this pattern!

Plaid Galore (Using American Duchess Cape and Wearing History Blouse Patterns)

Earlier this year I made a mauve wool 1910s wrap cape using the free pattern from the American Duchess Patreon.   I’m happy to see so many other people making it! The cape even has its own Instagram hashtag #ADcapecult.SXFB6622

I lined the cape with a blue and black plaid fabric I got from a friend but constructed my cape in a way to make it reversible. LEYY6663

The cape is inspired by an antique cream and black one.IMG_7297

I made mine using a light-weight wool for spring/fall usage.IMG_7486

One of the cute details this cape has is the contrast on the collar, which I repeated on the lining to make it fully reversible. QLWZ6538

This cape pattern is available in PDF format but is a gridded pattern you have to scale up. To save time I just printed the pattern extra large and taped the pieces together. IMG_7402

The closures are hidden under the back of the cape. The front pieces wrap around and you can finish them either by with hooks and bars or a ribbon bow. I had to trim a little bit off the ends because of my body shape. If you are large-busted you may need to change the size of the darts on the front wraps.

Overall, it’s an easy, good-looking cape and I plan to use this pattern again for a witchy wardrobe!IMG_0007

I had plenty of the plaid fabric left over and used it to make this cute 1930s double-breasted blouse pattern from Wearing History. IMG_6938JERR7630RRXR6541

I’ve coordinated the house in the outfit above with the Daphne retro wedge sandals from American Duchess.

Like all the other Wearing History blouse patterns I made, I am quite happy with how this turned out. It is not a complicated pattern because there are not many pieces. There’s some leeway to adjust the fit by moving the buttons and buttonholes a bit.IMG_6927

The shoulders have a split which make for a cute detail. Plus there’s a belt in the back with a buckle.SLWP7455

I loved the way this blouse looked with the red cigarette pants, but I had enough fabric left over I decided it would be also fun to make matching shorts. This way I would have the look of a romper but the convenience of a 2-piece outfit. IMG_0098

To make the shorts I hacked an existing pattern I already had: the Decades of Style 1930s Last Resort Beach PJs. I used the upper portion of the pants because I wanted the high-waisted look. You can see the beach PJs I made in an earlier post.

I had fun making my little mini capsule wardrobe!

FMDS8136

Jedi Librarian / Archivist Costume for Rebel Legion (in Ravenclaw Colors!)

I am happy to have an approved Jedi librarian/archivist costume for the Rebel Legion!

If you have not made a Jedi costume before I recommend you first read my post “DIY Generic Jedi Costume for Rebel Legion (A Head to Toe Guide)” because I use some of the same techniques referenced in this post.

I made my costume according to the Rebel Legion Jedi Librarian/ Archivist/ Historian Costume Standards but please note, I am not a RL judge and this post reflects my own experience making my costume and is not an official guide of any sort. This blog post will take you through the layers of my costume (with a dressing video at the end).

I used heavier fabrics like wool and cotton twill because I intend to use this for winter events; you’ll want to stick to cotton and linen if you plan to use it in warmer climates.

The bronze and blue colors I used are the same as Ravenclaw house colors, hence my Jedi name being a reference to a founder of Hogwarts.

UNDER TUNIC AND SKIRT

I made the under tunic out of a poplin fabric with slight stretch. You actually don’t need a full shirt; a dickey just showing the collar is sufficient. However, for warmth and laundering reasons I wanted a full shirt.

Any mandarin-collared shirt pattern will do but I used a modified Simplicity 8768 (affiliate link), simply because I already owned the pattern. It is the top half of View A. Instead of a zipper I put snap openings down the center front. (The pattern runs large so I had room for the overlap closure).

The CRL guide requires either pants or a floor length skirt. I opted for a navy cotton twill skirt with a very full sweep. The skirt is self-drafted, but if you have basic sewing skills you can make one. Mine is made from gored panels to reduce bulk at the waist, but if your fabric is not thick you can do a simple gathered skirt. Please note that if you are planning to wear this for Saber Guild or any activity that requires stuntwork, I recommend a full circle skirt for mobility reasons. You can’t do a high kick with a narrow skirt!

I’ve also seen that some people do sew the the inner tunic and skirt together, so you don’t have to fuss with waistbands if you prefer.

OUTER TUNIC

I used the same pattern for the wool outer tunic as my linen Jedi one, except I skipped the lining. As before, I used the modified McCalls M6940 Game of Thrones pattern (affiliate link) for the body and Simplicity 8723 Harry Potter robe pattern (affiliate link)  for the sleeves so please refer to my Jedi post for full details. It is a wrap dress with princess seams to be more figure flattering.

As before, I have a hidden tie closure inside the tunic, plus hook and bar closures on the outside.

The use of a coat weight wool for my tunic means it hangs beautifully like a real coat, and will be cozy for the winter!

BELT AND TOOLS

The belt is hidden under the obi, and is only used to hold up the tools. I’ve heard that these “tools” may be keys of some sort. They are actually optional items, not required for RL approval, but I think they add something interesting to the costume and are fun to make! Since the belt is not seen, I just used a modern belt.

My tools are based on the ones that Jocasta Nu wore in the Star Wars prequels.

Since I do not own a 3D printer I made the tools using items like broken pens and other items I had around the house.

I figured out that the “syringe” looking tool is made from a dental syringe easily purchasable through Amazon (affiliate link). I removed the metal washer and top handle, added a plastic cap and metal nut on top, add then a pen part on the bottom.

The bulby thing used a wooden honey dipper (Amazon affiliate link). I drilled a hole in the top of the honey dipper, added a button cover and 2 pen parts on bottom, then added pairs of metal jump rings to the handle and top of bulb.

The stylus thing consists of 5 pieces from various pens reassembled plus half a jewelry clasp at the top.

Everything was glued together with E6000 and painted with Rub ‘n Buff. Key rings were added at the end and then I cut leather straps to hold them to the belt.

POUCH

The CRL specifies the pouch must be suede with a drawstring closure. I found a suede pouch on eBay and then modified it. I punched extra holes and moved the cord so that the pouch would be gathered in the center front similar to Jocasta’s. I also cut a leather strip (slightly wider than the ones I used for the tools) and sewed it to the back of the pouch to give it a hanging loop. I swapped the wooden bead with a different closure I had in my stash.

If you want to make your own pouch from scratch, it’s a simple U shape. This is what it originally looked like before modifications:

OBI AND TABARDS

I would say that the defining feature of the Jedi librarian are the long tabards with the geometric designs. The original ones that Jocasta had were embroidered, but I’ve also seen people use upholstery fabric that’s woven with designs, or draw them on themselves with fabric pens or paint. I opted to make my own custom fabric using navy heat transfer vinyl flocking on to of bronze silk shantung. (At the time I made my costume I had not seen anyone else in the Rebel Legion use this technique for librarians, but I was approved and the CRL is vague about how to achieve the geometric designs).

I used a Silhouette machine (like a Cricut) to cut the designs after drawing them in the software. For those of you not familiar with these machines, they look like printers but with a thin blade instead of an ink jet. After cutting you peel away the excess material, apply it to your fabric with a hot iron, then remove the clear plastic backing. I used flocked HTV so the navy blue material had a velvety texture against the bronze silk. Here’s a test piece showing you what it looks like up close.

Here are some videos of the process.

@freshfrippery

Putting flocked appliqués on my #Jedi librarian #costume for Rebel Legion. #starwars #cosplay

♬ Star Wars (Epic Main Theme) – Samuel Kim

My obi closes in the back with hidden hook and bars. To keep the tabards level I have them sewn to the obi.

As for more explanation about the pattern shape for the tabards/obi and what shapes are acceptable under RL guidelines please refer to my Generic Jedi post. A few important points:

  • There are no shoulder seams. The top portion of the tabards curve from the front to the back.
  • The tabards are angled like a Y. They will not sit right if you just try to have 2 very long rectangles. You can save fabric by hiding the seam behind the obi.
  • The exact dimensions depend on your height and size, but for me I started with a lot of 6″ x 36″ rectangles and cut off extra as needed. You will need 14 rectangles (2 top tabards, 4 bottom tabards, 1 obi, then double everything for a lining). This includes seam allowance.
  • The tabards and obi have 2 layers: sew them right sides together on the long edges and one short edge, flip right side out to sandwich the raw seams, then hem the remaining short edge to your desired length. The hemmed end hides under the obi.
  • I used silk shantung which is lightweight by itself, but got heavy enough with the addition of the appliqués. I recommend using interfacing if you use thin fabric because you will want the tabards to have a decent weight to not flap around when you walk.

To help prevent the tabards from slipping off my shoulders I have a hidden snap on each shoulder.

BOOTS

My boots are the same ones used in my Generic Jedi costume:  “Gabi” boots purchased from Slimcalfboot.com during a sale.  The CRL calls for “low-heeled and closed-toe shoes” for skirts and calf-high brown or black boots if you’re wearing pants. Zippers must be on the inside of the leg if present.

GETTING DRESSED

Finally, here is a quick video of me putting on all the layers! The 3D printed Jedi holocron is from 3D Pro Designs on Etsy. I put my hair up in a bun and have 4 vintage U-shaped hair pins sticking out.

HOW MUCH DOES IT COST?

Your cost will vary a lot depending on what materials you use. I used a lot of wool, silk, leather, and flocked HTV, which raised my costs, but I got my fabrics on sale and reused my boots, which lowered my costs. If you’re on a budget I recommend looking at upholstery or drapery fabric for materials that already come with geometric designs, and sticking to cottons for your tunics. I also got really lucky on a crazy deal for my wool, which should have been the bulk of my cost. I’m also a bargain hunter when it comes to cosplays and go looking for deals on eBay or other places instead of buying everything “new.”

Materials list:

  • Inner tunic: 2 yards of 45″ cotton poly poplin shirting ($5.36 from Fabricmartfabrics.com)
  • Outer tunic: 3 yards of 55″ wool ($16.75 from a “garage sale”)
  • Skirt: 3 yards of 62″ navy twill ($21.58 from eBay)
  • Tabards/obi: 3 yards bronze silk shantung ($41 from Fabricmart)
  • Appliques: 5 sheets flocked heat transfer vinyl: $16.25 from Amazon (affiliate link)
  • Suede pouch: $11.79 from eBay
  • Leather strips: free, from a friend
  • Belt: $5.41 from eBay
  • Dental syringe: $10.37 from Amazon (affiliate link)
  • 2 honey dippers: $6.56 from eBay (I bought 2 in case I make a mistake drilling)
  • Holocron: $27.30 from 3D Pro Designs on Etsy.
  • Thread, hooks and eyes, pens, paint, etc. from stash ~$5

    Total cost (with reused boots and lightsaber): $167.37

If you need to cut corners because of budget the tools and holocron are not needed for approval, but are fun.

Thank you for reading and May the Force Be With You!

Race, Microaggressions, and the Costuming Community (Part 4 of the Good Costume Manners Series)

This is Part 4 of a series of posts on being a decent person while costuming. The other posts in the Good Costume Manners series are Part 1: “It’s Not Necessary to Be Mean: Snark in the Costuming and Cosplay Community”,  Part 2: “Good Intentions Don’t Excuse Bad Behavior” and Part 3: “Taking Control of Your Costuming Happiness.”

Originally for Part 4 I had been planning to write about how I’ve seen a rise in boorish behavior from people bored at home during quarantine.  (Some have decided to play gatekeeper and criticize cosplayers and historical costumers about their weight, physical resemblance to a character they’re portraying, materials, etc.)  Instead I feel like this is the time to discuss a much more toxic form of gatekeeping: racism, whether overt or subtle, purposeful or not. The past several weeks, as protests mounted about the deplorable way Black people are treated, I’ve seen members of the costume community respond in a myriad of ways that range from helpful activism, to shrugging it off as not their problem, to racist acts or comments of their own about the Black Lives Matter movement.

If you are reading this, chances are high that you are interested in cosplay, historical costuming, re-enactment, and/or vintage fashion. Chances are also high that your hobby has a disproportionately low number of BIPOC (especially Black and Brown) individuals compared to their presence in the general population and you’ve wondered why. Perhaps your local club or area is diverse but on a national level the hobbies are not. The reasons for this are too numerous and complex for a blog post but some of them are:

  1. BIPOC don’t feel welcome. (This, and what you can do about it, is going to be the focus of this post).
  2. Some hobbies are expensive and individuals from marginalized communities may have difficulty meeting the financial bar to purchase the costumes, materials, membership fees, or con badges.
  3. Some BIPOC fear that their friends and family will think they are being frivolous or “acting white.”

You, as an individual, may not have any control over the cultural and social constructs that have led to #2 and #3, but you can do something about #1.

BIPOC are not stupid. You don’t have to be overt and put up a Confederate flag on the lawn to drive people away from your hobby. BIPOC look for little clues like how many other POC are in a club, what kind of “jokes” are shared and tolerated by the membership, or if an organization has any policies on discrimination.

I’m not saying you, Reader, are a bad person. But perhaps you have tolerated some bad behavior, that behavior gets seen, and those micro-aggressions are little drops that grow into a trickle that becomes a river that POC might look at and say, “You know what, I don’t have the energy to wade through that just to play a game.”

I’d like you to consider if you have done the following things:

  • Your friend says something racist at an event but you don’t want to “kill the vibe” by calling him out because you’re afraid it’ll make everyone uncomfortable.
  • When your Black friend asks for cosplay suggestions you only suggest characters like Black Panther, Blade, and Storm.
  • There’s that one guy at your Civil War reenactment or Viking camp out who’s a little too aggressively interested in “heritage” and has some weird rants about minorities, but you decide he’s just really serious about his hobbies and keep inviting him back.
  • Your family member comments on your Facebook album of con pics, “Hey it’s Black Batman” or “Mexican Wonder Woman” and you don’t say “No, it’s just Batman and Wonder Woman” because you figure why bother correcting him?
  • You see an Asian person wearing a costume you don’t recognize but automatically assume it’s a geisha or anime character.
  • You state “I’m not into politics” because you’re afraid of alienating your sponsors or fan base.
  • Some of your fans compliment you with “It’s great to see an actual white person do this character because so many people doing it just don’t look right!” and you simply say thanks.
  • When asked what your stance is on civil rights issues you give a vague, non-committal answer about how you think everyone is important.
  • You justify following a popular costumer on Instagram or Youtube despite a history of terrible behavior because you “just like their pictures” or “I’m a fan of the work and not the person.”

I’m not saying you’re an awful person if you did those. It’s natural to want to avoid conflict and sometimes you’re not in a situation where it is safe to confront someone in person. Perhaps you have a business contract you can’t get out of.  However, those actions or inactions are seen and heard, and interpreted by people who might have otherwise been interested in joining up as a NOT WELCOME sign if they see it enough times.

What can you do?

  • If you see someone saying something racist, call them out. If they seem misguided, educate them. Maybe you can’t change their mind but someone else might see what you’re doing and know you’re not being complicit.
  • If someone makes an inappropriate joke tell them it’s not funny. If they insist, make them explain why it’s funny.
  • If a POC tries to join your club or reenactment don’t automatically try to steer them towards an ethnic character or persona because you think it’s “historically accurate.” Give them a chance to decide what they want to do.
  • If a POC does want to portray an ethnic character don’t assume they’re “trying to make a statement” or “want to be special.”
  • Speech, objects, and traditions that may have been accepted or tolerated in the past may be considered harmful in the present. Be aware that historical does not mean appropriate.
  • Google things on your own before asking your BIPOC friend to explain it; they’ve probably done it a lot and are tired of answering basic questions.
  • If you make a mistake, apologize. If someone tells you that your post is hurtful or has negative connotations, don’t double down and say “That’s not what I meant” or “That’s not how I’m using it.”
  • Familiarize yourself with the terms “performative activism,” “virtue signaling,” and “gaslighting” and why those actions make others uncomfortable.
  • Don’t pretend that because you are religious, have a history of charity work, or “don’t see race” you’re exempt from wrongdoing or criticism.
  • Also remember that people can change. Someone that made some mistakes in the past and thoroughly disavowed their former selves can be congratulated instead of continually dragged through the mud. There’s no incentive to change if you are still vilified after changing. Of course, this only applies to specific, genuine apologies and not “sorry you were offended” non-apologies. This also does not mean that as an ally you should expect your BIPOC friends to applaud every little thing you do; that would be exhausting.

Being excluded from a hobby is trivial in comparison to some of the other awful things happening in the world at the moment, and I am not a scholar or expert on race matters. I’m just a costumer that’s seen some things and want to stick to speaking about what I know. However, the point remains: Treat others as human. Don’t be an ass. Listen to your friends when they say they are hurt. Don’t talk over marginalized people with your own irrelevant anecdotes. Sharing a hashtag doesn’t absolve you of responsibility.

As an Asian American and a resident of a diverse area I tend to experience micro-aggressions because of my skin color (mainly online or when I travel), but I do not experience some of the particular and horrifying things Black costumers and reenactors encounter.  I am definitely not as eloquent and informed about this subject as I’d like to be and would prefer to defer to other more appropriate voices. For more information about the Black experience in America and discussion of problematic behavior: Cheyney McKnight of Not Your Momma’s History is a wonderful historical interpreter and educator who has a website, Instagram, Youtube, and Patreon.  Please feel free to suggest other POC costumers who strive to educate others in comments below. Thank you for reading!

(This post was originally written at the beginning of June, but I didn’t feel it was the right time to share then, when so many Black voices were struggling to be heard. I hope this is the right time now, not because the struggle is over, but because I’ve been seeing non-BIPOC individuals asking what immediate, relatable, and specific actions they can start taking now in their lives among the people they encounter and to make their hobbies more welcoming).

1920s Cozy Cardigan from Wearing History Pattern

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Back in April we had some chilly weather so I made myself a soft cozy cardigan using a 1920s pattern from Wearing History.

UKLL7502

I had some gray and pumpkin-colored knit fabrics in my stash so when I saw that pattern I thought it was the perfect way to use up some fabric. This was a sewing pattern, no knitting knowledge required! Plus it has pockets! (I decided to color block my pockets. That is not in the pattern; if you like to keep things simple you may find it easier to make solid pockets as instructed).IMG_E7252

Because this is a pattern using stretch knit fabric I recommend that you have a serger. If you are very determined to make it you could probably zig-zag everything tightly. This pattern is meant for knit fabrics; I don’t know how it would look with woven fabrics.

This is a reproduction of an antique pattern from the 1920s so it came in only one size (42″ bust). This was not my size so I had to grade down from the pattern to make it fit me.  I also found the sleeves too baggy on me so I also had to slim them down. The pattern does not have a lot of pieces (back, fronts, collar, sleeves, pockets, waist tie) so if you have knowledge of grading you can manage it just fine. I am 5’6″ and did not have to adjust the overall length. IMG_E7253

Depending on the width of your knit fabric and your size you’ll need about 2-3 yards to make this cardigan. (Please see the size chart on the pattern listing). The knits I was using were very thin and fine so I had to self-line and double my yardage.  I used 2 yards of the pumpkin fabric, all lined with gray fabric. My collar, cuffs, ties, and pockets all used some gray as well.  I had scraps left over from both colors; I would estimate I used almost all of the 2 yards of pumpkin and about 3 yards of gray. (If you are using a thicker knit you won’t need to line so your yardage would be half of what I used).IMG_7255

This pattern is listed as “expert difficulty.” My personal opinion is that the construction is not very difficult but the reason why this is not a beginner pattern is because it comes in one size (42″ bust) so you will have to know how to grade patterns if it is not your size. (Luckily it is an open front cardigan so it can run big and has room for error!) The other reasons why Wearing History lists her “Archive Couture” patterns as advanced or expert is because some of her patterns (plus the instructions) are reproductions from antique patterns, which assumed a certain level of sewing knowledge and did not do illustrated step-by-step instructions like modern patterns.IMG_7259

PROJECT COSTS:

  • Pattern from Wearing History: $5 from her Etsy; it is on sale for now
  • 5 yards of rayon/poly/lycra rib knit: $26 plus $5 shipping from Fabric Mart.
  • Thread:~ $2

Total: ~$38

If you are looking for something comfortable to wear around the house I highly recommend this pattern! I’ve already been looking at my stash and thinking I can make another one for wearing at the office or with dresses.

Note: You may have noticed that my cardigan is used as an example on the Wearing History Etsy listing. The photos are used with my permission. I paid for the pattern myself, and was not paid to make this blog post. 4FB29124-FF35-45D2-BDBE-CB6683577E69

Vintage-Style Cowgirl Split Riding Pants / Skirt for a Western Train Ride Event

Last month I made myself a cowgirl ensemble with a pair of split riding pants (with a button on panel to turn it into a skirt) using some cheerful blue wool and the 1919-1920 riding pants pattern by Wearing History.IMG_6640

The leftover wool was used for a self-drafted matching vest, lined with the same floral cotton as my blouse. GXWCE5351

I wore the ensemble during a ride on the Sacramento River Train with my local costume guild. IMG_6583

At the event I wore the pants without the extra skirt panel, but for a future wearing I plan to use this versatile garment with the skirt panel buttoned in (which makes them surprise pants!) IMG_E6491

I used 20 silver-colored metal shank buttons that have been in my stash for years. I think I paid 25 cents a button a long time ago and have been saving them for a project that needed 20 buttons! I got the wool for a great bargain too ($20!)IMG_E6486

The blouse was up-cycled from a second-hand cotton dress! I removed the skirt and used the extra fabric to make new sleeves and cuffs (replacing the 3/4 sleeves), extend the hem of the blouse, and also line my vest.  (It would have been even less work to just cut the skirt off a few inches below the waist seam, but it had a lot of gathered material that would have created bulk below the split riding pants).ABUU0472IMG_6478

For my other accessories I wore American Duchess Tavistock boots, vintage fringed sueded gloves with studs, a wool hat with a silver emblem I got from Poshmark, and a pleather pouch from Amazon.IMG_6693IMG_6691IMG_6830

The pouch (Amazon affiliate link) had slits in the back for threading the belt through to wear as a hip pouch, plus internal loops to wear as a purse. It’s “old-time” enough that I think it’ll end up in other costume ensembles!IMG_6831

Some notes about the Wearing History pattern: It comes with a short and long version of the skirt. Since I had limited fabric I cut the shorter version and was able to get a vest out of the scraps. (I used 3 yards of 54″ wool). The pants are unlined.Screen Shot 2020-03-24 at 5.23.22 PMThe skirt panel is faced with self-fabric and contains all the buttonholes while the buttons are sewn onto the pants. There are two options to attach the skirt panel. You can have one side sewn into the seam of the pants (which means you won’t lose the panel and you can make half as many buttonholes) or you can have the panel completely removable. If you have the panel attached you fold it over to one side and button it down.  I opted to have the panel completely removable because my self-faced fabric folded over would have meant 4 layers of medium-weight wool and more bulk than I wanted. (If you use a lightweight wool or other fabric you don’t have to be concerned about that).IMG_6485

The back of the skirt has an inverted box pleat that you can stitch down the center back seam. I did not do the stitching, in order to make the back more skirt-like. IMG_6501

The pants are very full so even if the skirt is buttoned in place in the front there should be plenty of range of motion due to the extra fabric in the sides and back.IMG_6595

Pattern difficulty is “advanced” according to Wearing History. This is because this is a reproduction of an antique pattern from 1919-1920 and assumes certain basic knowledge. Wearing History has added some really helpful notes, but this is not the kind of modern pattern that has step-by-step illustrations.  You should know how to make and attach a placket for the opening and the facings on the bottom hem. (These are rectangular pieces you make yourself from scraps, and are not included in the pattern).IMG_8727

I am an experienced costumer maker and have made pants before, so I did not find this pattern particularly difficult, but it is not a beginner pattern for sure. I highly recommend this pattern if you are experienced or an ambitious intermediate seamstress. It was definitely fun to wear with the rest of my guild!IMG_8713

The last 3 photos are by Lauren Moyer, one of our wonderful GBACG board members.IMG_8724

Giddyap!

1870s Bustle Gown (Black Snail Patterns Victorian Seaside Dress)

In February my local costume guild went to see an exhibit of James Tissot paintings at the Legion of Honor Museum in San Francisco, and we dressed up in bustle gowns. The exhibit was wonderful and it was lovely to see my fellow costumers.

I made myself an 1870s bustle dress using pink and white striped floral cotton and the Victorian Seaside Dress pattern from Black Snail Patterns.

I used a cotton that was very lightweight which helped the fluffy bustle layers stay fluffed!

My shoes are American Duchess Tissot shoes that I dyed blue and made shoe clips for out of my fabric scraps.IMG_5553

The blue trim is pleated grosgrain ribbon, which I put on the collar, cuffs, belt, and skirt flounces. I made my hat using a palm fan (more on that later in this post)!IMG_5566

My buttons were made using vintage fabric over vintage covered button kits. (The bodice actually closes with hooks and bars and the buttons are decorative). I prefer this technique because it means I can adjust the fit more easily and I don’t have to make a lot of buttonholes!IMG_5579

I recommend the Black Snail pattern. It consist of a bodice with an attached “apron,” a skirt, and long sleeves. The bustle effect is achieved by having ruffled flounces on the apron and skirt, and by having hidden ribbon ties underneath the apron.

The pieces all fit together well and the sizing chart was accurate. I was impressed that even the very large pieces of the skirt panels fit together, which means the pattern was graded well.IMG_5574

The sleeve is an 1870s two-part coat sleeve with a seam down the elbow and another seam on the inside of the arm. It is loose-fitting and appropriate to the era, and the fullness of the sleeve head needs to be eased into the shoulder of the bodice.IMG_5571

I made some simplifications to the Black Snail pattern in order to speed up the project:

  • I did not bother making a skirt placket and facing for the underskirt, since the top half is covered by the apron overskirt anyway.
  • The pattern calls for the back half of the underskirt to be cartridge pleated into the waistband. I did regular pleats since the top would be hidden.
  • I cut my flounces using the straight grain instead of on the bias like the pattern calls for. This is so I could use the selvedge instead of hemming the many yards of flounced fabric. However, this meant that my flounce stripes are horizontal instead of diagonal so you should cut on the bias if you prefer the diagonal. (The other reason why I used the straight grain is because I had limited fabric and the bias cut takes up more yardage).
  • The bustle effect comes from gathering up the apron overskirt in the back with twill tape. The pattern asks you to sew pieces of tape to the bodice then sew buttons to strategic parts of the overskirt that get attached to buttonholes on the tapes. In order to skip making the buttonholes I just used tapes on the skirt as well to tie to the bodice tapes.
  • The pattern calls for self trim to cover where the skirt and flounces meet. Instead of doing that I used purchased pre-pleated grosgrain trim from Amazon (affiliate link), which is available in other colors.

Just a warning: if you purchase the pre-printed pattern please make sure you have large paper around your house. There are some pattern pieces where you are told to extend the piece by up to 15 inches. (This was done by cutting a piece through the middle, inserting some paper, then drawing lines to connect the original pieces).  I had to do this for a number of the larger pieces, and I didn’t expect to do so much assembly for a pattern I did not print at home. I’m not sure if the reason behind this was to save paper costs, but I would have gladly paid a little more for the pattern to avoid the extra work.

Here’s some photos I took of the dress in progress so you can see what the apron looks like up and down. JULE6537

Black Snail recommends 11 yards of 51″ wide fabric for this dress. I only had 9 yards of 42″ fabric but made it work by using straight grain flounces instead of cutting my flounces on the bias like the pattern recommends.

Underneath my skirt I wore a “phantom bustle” (made during a class taught by Christina Deangelo) and two antique petticoats.EEWR4333PTLV3670DEGD9186

On top I wore this custom silk brocade late Victorian corset by Redthreaded. I own several other pieces by them and they are all very well-made. They offer both ready-to-wear and custom sizing and the owner Cynthia Settje is committed to great customer service and fair treatment and wages for her employees.

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Photos by Redthreaded

My hat base was made by me using a palm fan I had around the house! I trimmed it with leftover fabric from my dress, some leftover floral trim from my 18th century shepherdess outfit, and a little bird I got from the craft store. (I am wearing glass intaglio earrings from Dames a la Mode).IMG_5599

The fabric is a long pleated rectangle with pointed ends.IMG_5595

When I said palm fan, I literally meant a palm fan.IMG_5419

I soaked it in water to soften it, cut off the handle, and molded it around a bowl.IMG_5425

After it was dry I machine-sewed the ends together and trimmed off excess. IMG_5430

Voila, a hat base!IMG_5432

For my hair I wore 3 false hair pieces: a large braided bun, a crown braid, and twist hanging from the bun.IMG_5591

I used a remnant of pink ribbon I had around the house to trim the hat, but I think for a future wearing I’d like to replace it with a much wider and longer ribbon.

Project costs (not including undergarments and accessories):

  • Pattern: $20.70 from Black Snail Patterns (purchased during a sale with free shipping).
  • 9 yards cotton fabric: $35 including shipping from Facebook
  • 25 yards pleated trim: $13.06 from Amazon (during a sudden and lucky price drop! Plus I still have leftovers!)
  • Lining: $0 (scraps pieced together from previous project leftovers)
  • Thread, notions, etc: ~$5

TOTAL: $73.16 (woohoo for bargain shopping!)

I had such a lovely time. Thank you John Carey for these photos with some of my favorite beautiful ladies!

 

 

 

2019 Costuming Year in Review

Oh it’s already February! I feel like the winter holidays happened recently but it’s already past the time I should be tallying up my 2019 costuming year in review! Each year I’m pleasantly surprised at the amount I’ve been able to make; I attribute a lot of this to the fact that if I can machine-sew or serge I will to save time!

First up, I made an Edwardian dress to wear to a Monet exhibit.IMG_7850

I wore a cotton 1830s dress to a summer picnic. (The bonnet and pelerine were reused from my winter 1830s silk dress).IMG_8621

For a wedding at a science museum I made a space dress with battery-operated twinkling lights!JJPQ1221IMG_0093

I made his and hers Roman-inspired costumes for a wine-tasting party. IMG_1198IMG_1244

For a late summer tea party I made some 1930s linen beach pajamas from a Decades of Style pattern.IMG_2109IMG_2115

I made an 1890s sweater, a wool skirt, and a Professor McGonagall-inspired deerstalker witch hat.IMG_3336

I have a tutorial for the 1890s sweater (no knitting needed!)WCIH9664

Plus a pattern for the witch hat!IMG_3350

In the fall I went to an 18th century-themed weekend getaway, where I put together a shepherdess costume (with stays by Redthreaded) and added trimming to finish a previously worn silk dress.

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Photo by Gloria and Mike of In the Long Run Designs

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Photo by Gloria and Mike of In the Long Run Designs

For Rebel Legion I made a generic Jedi costume that consisted of an inner tunic, outer tunic, tabards, obi, pants, and hooded robe.

Miss Vivien_s Con-Ex-4

Photo by Ribidib

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My last project of 2019 (not worn until early 2020 was the 1930s crane coat dress made from a Decades of Style pattern.20200125-IMG_3624

Once again that was more than I expected! I hope you had a productive 2019 and am looking forward to 2020!

1930s Crane Coat Dress

My last project of 2019 was a 1930s coat dress using the Miss L’s Coat Dress pattern from Decades of Style.  My color scheme was inspired by Japanese cranes (featured in the embroidered appliqués on my coat).20200125-IMG_3624

(Thank you Lauren for taking all these pictures of me wearing it at the GBACG Open House!) The defining feature of this coat dress is the fabulous sleeves! All the curved black and white stripes you see are pieced together during construction; they are not appliqué. 20200125-IMG_3612

I made my coat out of a vintage twill fabric. The stripes are black cotton velvet and white canvas with a layer of sheer white organza on top. (I didn’t have any sateen in the sash and the plain canvas looked too flat next to the velvet so I added the organza to add some texture). The front of the coat features long darts, pointed lapels, a stand up collar, and big cloth-covered buttons.20200125-IMG_3621

The black and white stripes meet at the underside of the sleeve. (Not perfect but close enough for me!)IMG_4934

The back of the coat has double princess seams that are top-stitched. My collar is red rayon challis with a canvas interlining. 20200125-IMG_3617IMG_4920

All the accent materials (the velvet, canvas, organza, and rayon) are scrap pieces from past projects of mine. The buttons were purchased at a rummage sale for $2 for a large bag and I still have some left over! The main coat fabric was purchased on eBay as part of a larger lot for a bargain price. The lining was $1/yard clearance fabric. My “splurge” were the embroidered crane appliqués from Aliexpress and they still cost me less than $10, so overall I spent probably $30 on supplies to make this coat because I’m good at hoarding useful materials. =)20200125-IMG_3620

Some notes if you plan to make your own coat:

  • This is not a beginner pattern. I would not say it’s unduly difficult and the instructions are very good, but this should not be your first project!
  • You should be comfortable with fish eye darts, top-stitching, interlining, grading curves, and setting a sleeve.
  • There are a lot of pieces and a lot of steps, so make sure you have a way of labeling all the bits as you go.
  • The lining must be attached by hand so be comfortable with some hand-sewing.
  • The pattern is true to size; follow the size chart.
  • Use a mid-weight fabric. I made mine out of twill but I’ve also seen some really lovely wool and velvet versions of this coat on Instagram. You want enough structure but not something so thick that sewing the curves on the sleeves makes bulky seams.
  • This pattern takes some time but I feel like it’s quite worth it in the end! I got a lot of nice comments when I wore it and people asking if it was a real vintage coat, so Decades did a great job on the pattern.

I enjoyed making and wearing this coat. Thank you Decades of Style for the pattern! 20200125-IMG_3623

(My shoes are from American Duchess. My hat is vintage with faux pearls).