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Category Archives: Miscellaneous

2017 Costuming Plans

I have three large projects planned for 2017, although I’m sure little projects will pop up in between if I get invited to events or get distracted by shiny things. I’m happy to report that I already have most of the materials on hand for my three projects, much of it acquired through some lucky bargains!

Regency court dress

I am not planning to reproduce this exact outfit, but this picture is to give you an idea of what I have in mind. I will be making a beaded Regency evening dress, for which I already have the materials (courtesy of Fabric Wholesale Direct). I’ve started on the dress so that will be the focus of my next series of posts. The color and type of fabric I will be using for the train has not been decided and will depend on what I can get for a reasonable price.

1660s Cavalier gown

I’ve never made a 1660s outfit before, so this is an era that is new to me. Although I think satin might be a little more appropriate, I will be making this out of black silk taffeta because I happen to have it in my stash (from the wonderful $5/yard sale from Fabric Mart!) Although I had already picked out this dress to make for the gala at Costume College this year before the theme was announced, it ended up being the perfect choice. The theme will be “Dinner at Tiffany’s” so a black dress with pearls is quite appropriate!

Crimson Peak picnic outfit

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I already have the right color silk for the skirt due to a serendipitous find from a friend’s garage sale! I won’t be able to find the exact lace for the blouse but I have something with a similar feel. The biggest challenge will be sculpting the hand belt. This outfit is being planned for a spooky Victorian tea in October.

I hope your sewing adventures in 2017 are fun and fabulous!

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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!

Lady Tremaine’s Hat

Today I finished my Lady Tremaine hat!

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The hat is made of two layers of sinamay with one layer of organza sandwiched inside. My friend Lynne, who made my beautiful 1840s bonnet, helped greatly with the patterning of the brim and loaned me a wooden hat block.

Behold, awkward bathroom selfies!imageimage

The hat brim is bound with bias trim I made from velveteen. The same fabric is used for a band around the bottom of the crown. I upcycled the crown from a wool felt hat I no longer wanted.image

I took some liberties when it came to the exact placement of the flowers and birds, and the type of flowers. The flowers are made from heat-transfer flocking, like the flowers on my skirt.image

The only black birds I could find in the craft store were large Halloween ravens, so I bought smaller birds and spray-painted them black using Krylon Hobby/Craft paint in gloss black.

I don’t have pictures of the process, but the general steps were:

  1. Make a cardboard pattern for the brim.
  2. Cut out 2 layers of sinamay and 1 layer organza according to the brim and pin together.
  3. Sew rayon-covered millinery wire to the edge of the brim.
  4. Bind the edge of the brim with velveteen bias.
  5. Cut and apply floral appliques.
  6. Cut out center head opening and make tabs.
  7. Sew the crown to the tabs.
  8. Add grosgrain hat band to inside crown.
  9. Add velvet band outside crown.
  10. Trim with birds and feathers.

Supply costs (including Amazon affiliate links):

Total: $77.56

It’s not exactly an inexpensive hat, but much nicer than the plain black straw hats I was considering at first, and much cheaper than the $300 Kentucky Derby hats I kept seeing when searching for large sinamay hats!

I look forward to wearing this hat with the rest of my Lady Tremaine ensemble at Costume College this year.

Mustard and Black 1940s Dress

I have not been sewing or blogging much because I am in the middle of a kitchen renovation, and we are doing what work we can ourselves. However, I’m taking a break while waiting for a coat of paint to dry to give you a sneak peek of my next project, a 1940s dress.

Is the color scheme familiar?IMG_7514

How about now?IMG_7517

I and some fellow nerdy costumer friends have taken inspiration from the film noir episode of the first season of Star Trek: The Next Generation to make uniforms in 1940s style. Our goal to to make them from historically accurate fabrics and patterns, but using the color schemes of characters from the show. I am Data!

We were also inspired by this awesome art deco blouse found on Etsy:

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Photo by Guermantes Vintage

I am modifying the Dahlia blouse pattern from Wearing History. There is no yoke and I needed color blocking so I added extra seams in the front and back to piece together the rayon challis I am using.

The bodice will be flat-lined. I cut out all the pieces twice and serged them together before sewing. Right now I have some seams sewn together and the rest are pinned.

I  fitted my mockup at a friend’s house and started picking it apart while I was there, so I don’t have a dress form photo, but here it is lying flat on her floor. (I happened to have some scraps of gold and black fabric to use for my patterning!)

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The dress will have long fitted sleeves with a slight gather at the shoulders and elbows. I haven’t decided yet whether to make the dress a one or two-piece, but the skirt will be black, possibly with a yellow lining.

Making a Denim Whale Toy from Old Jeans

A while back I saw this great tutorial on a Finnish blog for upcycling an old pair of denim jeans into a stuffed whale toy. Then later another blog put up a printable pattern for the whale.

I had some old jeans of mine that were getting too worn to wear, so I made them into a whale for my son. (This project is actually a few months old, but I’ve had so many other sewing projects to blog about this one was overlooked).IMG_5624IMG_5630

The top of the whale uses the outside of the jeans, while the belly uses the inside for contrast.IMG_5628

It was a fun and easy project and we’ve nicknamed the whale Mr. Pants.IMG_5626

I made him after my son had gone to bed and put the whale on my son’s chair as a surprise for the next morning.IMG_5631

Embroidered 50s Dress, Vintage Jewelry, and Other Finds

I’ve been doing a lot of small tasks lately, like mending, replacing buttons, adding trim, cleaning jewelry, etc. so I don’t have a big sewing project to share. Instead, I am showing you some beautiful vintage items I have recently found.

First is this really cute embroidered 50’s dress!

IMG_5387 IMG_5389 IMG_5391 IMG_5392Unfortunately it needs a lot of love and attention. It has many stains and damaged areas, although the embroidery is in good shape. The zipper has some rust, and the bodice lining and outer nylon layer has some holes and tears. There are some tears at the top of the dress so I can’t hang it up until I sew in some hanging loops. The dress fits me perfectly though, so I hope I can rescue it!

I finally got around to cleaning the jewelry I bought at Costume College, either from the bargain bazaar or a vendor, and here are the pieces.

First is an adorable dress clip with a happy couple. I’m not sure what to wear with it yet, but I’ll figure it out. Next is a brooch featuring carved coral tulips and green stone leaves. I have some other vintage coral tulip jewelry, although not in such a deep pink color.IMG_5378

This heart-shaped pin features a little ivory flower. I am in love with this tiny millefiori pin!IMG_5380You can see how tiny it is compared to this other millefiori pin I bought years ago from the Alameda Antiques Fair.

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Next are these two little pins that are probably not vintage, but cute anyway. I am going to put some green thread on the artists’ palette to fill in the missing part. Isn’t the little dangling button on the needle just perfect?

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The enamel pin is missing its center stone. I’m not sure what it was originally, but I am adding in a faux pearl. The shiny brooch on the right is a piece of modern costume jewelry, but I liked the fun colors, even if it’s missing a few stones. I can repair it, but until then, I don’t think it’s very noticeable if worn at night!IMG_5383Lastly is this pair of hand-embroidered pillowcases. I have a friend who loves to embroider, so I am going to pass these onto her, since I know she will give them a good home.

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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.