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Category Archives: Miscellaneous

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.

Costume College Plans and Sewing To-Do List

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Here we are in May, and I still have a long list of costumes to make. So far this year I’ve completed a Game of Thrones King’s Landing dress, an Oberyn Martell costume, my Chemise a la Reine and some accessories.  I have outfits planned for Costume College, and just for fun.

Onward!

1. I need to finish my silk stays which have been put aside a few times in favor of other projects.

2. My chemise dress needs a new white petticoat. The ones I wore with it recently were ivory, which work well with the whole ensemble, but if I want to wear the cotton chemise dress by itself I need a white petticoat.

3. For one of the days at Costume College I plan to wear a Downton Abbey Edwardian maid outfit. (It will be nice and comfortable to attend class in it!) I have the vintage laces needed for the apron and cap, but need to purchase the black dress fabric.perso_ph_gwen

4.  Another outfit planned for CoCo is a Victorian bathing suit, which I will wear for the Thursday night pool party. I have the pattern and fabric (a striped wool blend), but I need lining and trim.

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5. Just for fun, and to learn some new skills and work with new materials, I am planning to make Lady Tremaine’s outfit from the new Cinderella movie. Isn’t it so fun? I have been doing some research (for a future post!) and am in the process of accumulating fabrics for the dress. I don’t have a deadline for this outfit because I anticipate it will take a lot of work.

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6. I recently acquired some lovely historical reproduction printed cotton fabric and plan to use it for an 1840s fan-front dress.

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7. The 1850s silk plaid dress from last year still needs a belt and silk undersleeves.

It’s an ambitious list; let’s see how much of it gets done for 2015!

Happy New Year! (and New Dress Form!)

Happy New Year everyone!

This morning the Fedex truck rolled up to my house with a present from my husband: a new dress form! I had been telling him that I was looking for a proper dress form. What I’ve been using for a while, bought years ago when I didn’t know any better, was advertised as a “dress form,” but was really a plastic mannequin with a lightly padded cover. I had to slide pins in sideways, and it did not squish like a real body. The boobs were very hard, and in an odd place. The mannequin was useful for hemming, and as a starting point for mock-ups, but I had to do a lot of fitting on myself.

Since I’ve gotten more serious about historical costuming and having underpinnings, I wanted a dress form that I could pad up, then squish down with a corset, or even maybe put bean bag boobs on. To accomplish that I needed to find a very small mannequin – smaller than me. I had looked at child-sized ones because they were flat-chested, but they were too short. I told my husband that it can be hard to find a size 0 adult dress form, but I was considering one I found on Amazon. Isn’t it nice when husbands listen, even when they’re saying they don’t know what you’re talking about?

Here she is! She’s fully-pinnable, with magnetic removable shoulders and a very heavy wheeled base. My old one was on a wooden tripod and not too stable.

IMG_3547She’s got a butt, instead of a mysterious smooth cliff.

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I like that there are visible seams in the linen cover, which will help me keep things straight.

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She’s quite an improvement over what I had before and I’m glad I get to start the new year with a nice new dress form!