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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).

An 18th Century Weekend at Wagner House

This past September there was an 18th century themed weekend at Wagner House (Lakewold Gardens) in Lakewood, Washington, hosted by Vanessa of @pinksewing. The weekend consisted of a picnic and a dinner, plus a day of workshops. Jenny of Jennylafleur taught a historical hair class and Denise of Romantic Recollections taught fly fringe. Additionally, photoshoots were provided by Gloria and Mike of In the Long Run Designs and there were trunk shows from Redthreaded and Dames a la Mode.

Here is a photo of the attendees of the picnic, taken by In the Long Run Designs.wagner-house_48828852158_o

And the following are the beautifully attired dinner guests, photo also by In the Long Run Designs.48844032341_9d21e5cf42_o.jpg

Wagner House is not huge but very elegant. The rooms of the house have been converted to conference/meeting rooms. Downstairs there’s a dining room, solarium, bathroom, marbled foyer, library, and kitchen. We were not allowed upstairs but could take photos at the bottom of the stairs during dinner. In my opinion though, my favorite parts were the gardens and the beautiful woods surrounding the property! IMG_2735IMG_2731IMG_2717

I am in love with this library!IMG_2740IMG_2737IMG_2742IMG_2743

Wagner House is not set up for overnight stays so most of us stayed in a nearby hotel or Airbnb and drove to Lakewold Gardens for the events. Some guests were local to Washington state.

In the first group photo I am wearing my 18th century shepherdess costume, and you can read more about it in my previous post.(Photo by In the Long Run Designs).48867872061_9edf6e25a0_o

In the second group photo I am wearing a mauve silk Italian gown that I previously wore to the Casanova exhibit at the Legion of Honor, but added additional trim to for this event. (Photo by In the Long Run Designs).wagner-house_48829563677_o

I normally wear this dress with a large split bum pad, but it would have taken up half the space in my suitcase, so I opted for a smaller half-moon bum pad and a petticoat. More petticoats would have created a fluffier look, but sometimes we have to make allowances for travel!

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And here are photos of some of the beautiful guests! I enjoyed seeing old friends and making new ones.

Here is Beth in her beautiful candy stripes.IMG_2922

Ginger is so fluffy!IMG_2934

Laina and Cathyn made a striking couple.IMG_2952

The colors that Denise and her husband wore were luminous in person.IMG_2951

Lindsey looked so pretty in pink, and I loved her hair!IMG_2946

Sacque gowns are fantastic from the back!IMG_2944

A shot of Ginger from the picnic.IMG_2904IMG_2801

Taylor and Jenny in stripes during the daytime event.IMG_2796

Guests were milling about before dinner.IMG_2966IMG_2965 2

Dinner was delightful! Vanessa took care of every detail, including limiting the number of seats at each table to fit all our giant dresses. There was also a pianist and bartender! 😉  I’m afraid my camera wasn’t good enough to do the food justice under the lighting conditions, so I’ll just provide the menu here so I can reminisce fondly:

Appetizers:
Bacon Wrapped Chili Chicken Bites
Cranberry Brie Bites
Herbed Mushroom Puffs

Dinner:
Mixed Greens Salad w/Apples, Goat Cheese, w/Balsamic Viniagrette
Tuscan Chicken
Beef Bourguignon
Garlic Parmesan Pasta
Garlic Mashed Potatoes
Roasted Herb Zucchini
Foccacia Bread

Dessert:
Rose & Lemon Macarons
Black Forest Trifles
Vanilla Cream Puffs

As a parting gift we all received an engraved fan as a memento of the weekend, as well as a champagne and macarons enamel pin by Aimee Steinberger.

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Thank you Vanessa for a magical weekend!48844032341_9d21e5cf42_o

Linen 1930s Beach Pajamas and a Vintage Robe for a Miss Fisher Tea Party

A group of friends and I had a Miss Fisher tea party at Pardee House, a historical home in Oakland, CA. We dressed in 1920s and 1930s clothing (or later decades if one preferred), and booked a tour of the home and a delicious tea afterwards. It was a lovely experience and I highly recommend Pardee for anyone in the area.

I wore a newly made set of linen beach pajamas using the “1930s Last Resort Beach PJs” pattern from Decades of Style, paired with a true vintage 1930s rayon robe. (Thank you Sara for all the outfit photos).IMG_2109

My green glass necklace is also vintage. My shoes are from Royal Vintage Shoes and my hat is from eBay.IMG_2110

I’ve used this pattern before and really liked it. (You can see my previous set of PJs and pattern review here).IMG_2113

I made the garment from some peach-colored linen that I had left over from another project. The trim on the neckline, back, hem and ties are orange “rococo” trim. There is a zipper in the lower back and two large pockets in the front.IMG_2115IMG_2020IMG_2025

I faked having short hair with this little clippy tool. You put your hair through the flexible center, roll it up, and then secure with the clips.TDJT1497.JPG

I felt like Miss Fisher exploring a mystery in this photo!69457657_421578011804782_4825319839214075904_o

The food at the Pardee tea was so good and plentiful, and beautifully presented with all sorts of floral garnishes. RETO9820.JPG

Here are a few of the beautifully dressed ladies who were there with me: Natalie, Kelsey, Mena, Sara, and Jessica!69853869_421578128471437_8476538088061927424_o.jpgIMG_2107

Pardee Home is quite charming; I highly recommend a visit!69368379_421579175137999_5823233556041695232_o

Beach PJs project costs:

  • 5 yards trim: $6.60 from eBay (part of a larger order including shipping)
  • Pattern: $0 (used before)
  • 2.5 yards linen fabric: $25.50 from fabricmart.com (part of a larger order including shipping)
  • Zipper: $0 (salvaged from another item)
  • Thread: ~$1 from stash

Total: ~$33.10 (cool, comfortable, chic, and cheap!)

 

Twinkling Lights Space Dress with LEDs

I am excited to show you my space dress, which had hidden LED lights I could turn on to make a twinkling galaxy with stars! I wore this last weekend to a private evening event at the Lawrence Hall of Science.JJPQ1221

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For the bodice pattern I used Vogue 8789, a 1950s dress pattern, but modified the skirt to be longer and slimmer. IMG_9752

I have used this pattern a number of times and like how easy it is to put together. The front and back of the bodice has 2 pieces each with darts, and the neckline facing just flips inside.IMG_9754

The space fabric is an embroidered galaxy-themed mesh. Since it’s transparent I flat-lined it with opaque black peach skin fabric for the top. For the skirt, I needed to maintain some transparency to let the lights show through, so the skirt is lined with a semi-sheer black chiffon. IMG_9758

Underneath the skirt I wore a petticoat with the lights sewn on in a random pattern. That way I could wash the dress separately. (It’s easier if you attach the lights while the finished petticoat is on a dress form, rather than trying to sew the lights to the fabric first). I made the petticoat about a foot shorter than the skirt of the dress because I was afraid I’d accidentally put my foot in the wrong place and trip on the light strands. (This is why the lights don’t go all the way to the bottom of the dress).IMG_0244

The petticoat is just a large rectangle gathered at the top with an elastic waistband. (Use a wide elastic at least 1 inch wide, otherwise the weight of the battery pack will make the petticoat sag). My battery pack had 3 AA batteries. I’ve seen some that use coin-sized batteries that are lighter, but this is what I happened to have on hand.IMG_0249

The side seam of the petticoat had a pocket for the battery pack, plus a snap to close it. The 3 sets of wires from the battery pack connected to the 3 strands of lights I had on the skirt. (Multiple strands allows you to have them twinkle because they are not all blinking on and off at the same time). I could also have them on continuously all at once.IMG_0246

I got my lights and battery for free, but it is easy to find “LED fairy lights” on Amazon and other sites. Look for battery-operated lights and long strands so you don’t have to use too many. I have not purchased this particular set on Amazon (affiliate link), but if I were to make this again I’d upgrade to these lights that have a remote control!

This dress is a bit hard to photograph in action, but here is an outdoor shot at night. You can visit my Instagram to see a video of the dress blinking.IMG_0108

I wore shoes that I dyed and rhinestoned. IMG_9767.JPG

My solar system necklace was from ThinkGeek.IMG_0250.JPG

DRESS PROJECT COSTS:

  • 3 yards space fabric: $33.57 on Aliexpress
  • 5 yards black chiffon: ~$7 from Fabricmart Fabrics. (I bought it during a $1/yard sale and bundled it with other items for shipping).
  • Thread, zipper, snap, etc. from stash: $2
  • LED lights: $0 (I got them for free but otherwise I’d spend ~$12 on Amazon)
  • 3 AA batteries: ~$1

Total cost: ~$42.57 (or ~$53 if I had to buy the lights)

If you make a space dress of your own I’d love to see it! IMG_0152

1830s Cotton Day Dress

I have an 1830s-themed picnic later this year, so I made another Romantic era gown! Although I already have the plaid silk dress that I wore to the Dickens Fair, the thought of wearing silk to an outdoor summer picnic did not sound very comfortable. Instead, I decided to have a washable cotton dress in a busy print that could hide stains.IMG_6177.JPGIMG_6179.JPG

The dress is shown above without the sleeve plumpers or the petticoats properly starched, so there will be a lot more poof when I wear it! The fabric is a quilting cotton by Andover Fabrics from their Maling Road collection, shown below with one of the hidden pockets I put in the side seams.IMG_5788.JPG

Although the cotton I bought was not advertised as a reproduction print, I thought the general checkered feel of it was similar to this antique wool gown at the Victoria and Albert Museum.Dress-With-Lace-Pelerine

The cotton pleats up beautifully, as seen in my sleeves. (Since the sleeves have about a yard of fabric, deep pleats are needed to get all that fabric into the armscye. Gathering will be too bulky).IMG_6182.JPG

I have lots of details about construction, undergarments, and accessories in my post about my plaid silk gown, so I’ll just go over the things I did differently in this gown.

As before, I used the Truly Victorian TV455 1830s Romantic Era pattern to make my dress, but this time I redrafted the sleeve pattern to have a more defined difference between the upper and lower sleeve, using the Workwoman’s Guide as a reference (drawing not to scale):IMG_6428.JPG

Other changes I made to the construction (mostly to speed things up):

  • I skipped the piping because the print was so busy, and I wanted this project to be fast!
  • I used the variation of the pattern that omits the pleating at the top of the bodice because I will be outdoors and wearing a pelerine that covers the pleating anyway.
  • I did not line the sleeves this time; this reduced the bulk when pleating.
  • Rather than having an opening in the lower sleeve that closes with hooks and eyes, I just sewed the sleeve seam shut. This means that the wrist area of the sleeve is not very tightly fitted, but still looks slim enough since I have slender hands I can carefully slide in. Having the seam fully shut made construction much easier since I had no lining, and is one less thing to fuss with when dressing.
  • Last time I flat-lined my silk with an organdy interlining, then made a separate polished cotton lining. This time I skipped the lining and flat-lined my cotton print with a plain cotton interlining. Here’s a time-saving tip I posted to my Instagram stories:IMG_5757.JPG

I will be reusing the delicate cotton pelerine I made for my silk gown.IMG_6187.JPG

The yellow ribbon belt is just a placeholder; I am considering a teal or coral velvet ribbon for the sash. I also purchased a lovely carved antique abalone shell belt buckle to use with this dress. It is probably Edwardian instead of Victorian, but it has the right size and proportions.IMG_6221.JPG

I put bust pads inside the gown, which are just cotton pouches stuffed with Poly-fil. They are not really meant to make your bust bigger, but fill out the hollow near the front of your underarm. The size, shape, and placement will depend on your body.
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As you can see, the neckline is just flipped down and hand-stitched into place.

Materials:

  • 8 yards of 44″ wide quilting cotton: $66.75 including shipping from eBay
  • Pattern: $0, previously used twice!
  • Bodice lining: $0 (leftover scraps from other projects)
  • Thread, hooks and eyes, Poly-fil. ~$3 (already in stash and purchased in bulk)
  • Ribbon: TBA

Not including accessories that means the dress will be around $70-75, since I already have all the undergarments, bonnet, shoes, and pelerine!

Here’s a storage tip: I now have three 1830s gowns and I don’t want to have the sleeves crushed in my packet closet. I also didn’t want to make multiple sets of sleeve plumpers. I put a plastic bag inside each sleeve and then put Poly-fil inside the bag. That meant the enormous sleeves of my 1830s dresses could muscle my other dresses in the closet out of the way.IMG_6403

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My event is still more than 3 months away, so I won’t be posting final worn photos for a little while, but I am glad to be done! (I don’t normally finish things this far in advance, but I wanted to make this gown while my previous 1830s dress was still fresh in my mind).IMG_6189.JPG

Gigot Girl Gang Invades Dickens Fair!

I go to the San Francisco Dickens Christmas Fair every year, but this year was especially fun because a large contingent of us went in 1830s ensembles. I’m amazed at how many beautiful and talented ladies joined in on the wackiness, and went all out with hair, bonnets, muffs, and other accessories with their big-sleeved gowns.QGIN4307

I took a quick snap in front of my house and later at Fair. My next post is going to discuss construction details, a materials list, show all the undergarments, explain the hair, and how to put together your own ensemble. For now, a few brief notes: my gown is sewn by my out of plaid silk taffeta. I am wearing Gettysburg side-lacing boots from American Duchess, earrings by The Lady Detalle, a bonnet by House of Loli that I trimmed, antique gloves, and a vintage muff. Underneath I have a linen chemise, corded stays by Redthreaded, a corded petticoat by Hand Stitches in Time, a tucked petticoat, sleeve plumpers, and stockings.

Enough chatting, you’re here to see pictures of everyone!

Nicole was beautiful in red and a sheer lace pelerine.IMG_4530

Christina had the most amazing pleated bodice hidden by her pelerine!IMG_4527

Abby was our Swedish head balls lady.

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Abby pretended to have beef with our Dane Elizabeth during the fashion contest, who had the most glorious hat.IMG_4476.JPG

Lauren was also part of the plaid contingent.IMG_4544IMG_4542IMG_4546

The American Duchess ladies made these lovely little ornaments engraved with “Gigot Girl Gang 2018” on the back and some of us wore them on our belts.IMG_4618IMG_4589

Kaila had a lovely tobacco-colored silk gown and pelerine, all hand-sewn. Her bonnet veil was just gorgeous! She won a prize in the fashion contest that we all attended as the “Luddite Fashion Society.” (Most of Dickens Fair is 1850s-1860s).IMG_4494IMG_4498

Maggie was a vision in bright yellow, with a little poppet of Cynthia that we passed around.IMG_4570.JPG

We had such a large group and everyone showed up at different times so I couldn’t get shots of everyone. Please forgive the poor lighting at Dickens; I already had to delete so many blurry and dark photos!

We had a grand time at tea.IMG_4564IMG_4557IMG_4556

And we even had an audience with the Queen, played by the beautiful Sarah that day. From left to right: Mena, Kim, Lauren, Sarah, Elizabeth, Sara, and me.IMG_4578

And here we have Sara, Mena, Elizabeth, Sarah, me, Molly, and Kim. I think Kim wins for biggest sleeves!IMG_4574

Many of us plan to wear these gowns again at Costume College in 2019. Please join us if you are interested! I will be making a post explaining how I put together my outfit, and I know American Duchess has some informative blog posts and video planned so come out and play!

More photos are in my Flickr album: https://www.flickr.com/photos/vivien_misc/albums/72157704703672744

Wedgewood Blue Gibson Girl Gown and Undergarments

I attended a dinner party on the Delta King River Boat in Sacramento. The event was hosted by the GBACG and people were encouraged to wear clothing from 1870-1900. I decided to make a Gibson Girl dress out of a Wedgwood blue silk taffeta, trimmed with white lace.IMG_2870IMG_2856

My inspiration was the famous Wedgewood pottery. IMG_1670.JPG

I have some additional appliqués I purchased that I didn’t have time to add for this event, but will for the next wearing to make it even more like pottery. IMG_2096.JPG

The bodice is made with Truly Victorian’s 1892 ball gown bodice and 1893 bell skirt patterns. I found the fit of both to be good, but the bodice is very long and I had to cut a bit from the bottom, even though I am long-waisted.IMG_2796

Some bodice in-progress photos that show the amount that needed to be trimmed:

My jewelry is by In the Long Run. My gloves are vintage and the purse is from a bridal shop. I am wearing Tissots from American Duchess.IMG_2742

I did not use the sleeve pattern that came with the bodice pattern. Instead I gathered up a rectangle of silk chiffon to make flowing sleeves.IMG_2727

The top was gathered and serged.IMG_2673

The back closes with hooks and eyes.IMG_2729.JPG

I decorated the front with a silk chiffon sash and little flowers that I put faux pearl centers in. IMG_2725

I would have liked to hem the end of the sash and add little pearls to the edge, but I was recovering from a hand injury and couldn’t do any hand-sewing, so it’s just a pouf for now. Thus I had to get creative with ways to avoid it!

Ways to save on hand-sewing:

  • I used a white silk chiffon scarf to trim the bodice, so the edges were already hemmed!
  • I serged or machine-sewed any seam I could.
  • I hemmed the skirt by machine, and then covered the machine stitches by sewing lace over it.
  • Instead of cutting a facing, I used a wide vintage rayon ribbon as a hem facing.
  • I used boning that already came with a casing, so I didn’t have to make the casing. I also had casing that had little “fins” on it so that I could machine-sew the boning onto the seam allowance of the bodice.
  • I used hook and eye tape instead of individually sewing on hooks and eyes.
  • Oh horror: I serged the bottom of the bodice, then flipped it up and held the hem in place by ironing on Stitch Witchery!

Because I flat-lined the fashion fabric to a cotton base, and I couldn’t hand-baste the pieces together there is some puckering. Although it’s not up to my “usual standards” I am still quite proud of what I was able to do with what I could, and I had fun with my friends!IMG_2848

Underneath the skirt I wore a long petticoat based on the Truly Victorian bell skirt pattern, with a big ruffle and trim attached.IMG_2162.JPG

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I wore a custom S-bend corset from Redthreaded, with hip pads, and a bust pad. The padding is necessary to achieve the exaggerated Gibson silhouette. I went from an 8 inch differential in my waist and hips to 13 inches, with only a 1 inch waist reduction!

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I used the “bust improver” pattern from Wearing History, which comes in 2 sizes. I recommend it to give your girls a little extra something!Screen Shot 2018-11-04 at 8.11.32 PM.png

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Project costs:

  • 8 yards silk taffeta: $113.44 including tax from the LA Fabric District (I still have 3 yards left!)
  • 10 yards white veins lace: $34.01 including shipping from Aliexpress
  • 15 pairs grape leaf appliques: $36 including shipping from Aliexpress
  • bodice pattern: $10.75 from Truly Victorian (digital file)
  • skirt pattern: $0 (already used previously)
  • vintage rayon ribbon spool: $3
  • silk chiffon: $0 (gift from friend)
  • 3 yards white cotton for petticoat: $12 from eBay
  • pink trim for petticoat: $3 from garage sale
  • boning, thread, hook and eye tape, flowers, etc. from stash: ~$10

Total cost: $222.20 (plus I have a lot of silk and lace leftover I’ll probably sell to recoup some costs). Normally I don’t tally the costs until the dress is finished, and I still have to add the grape appliqués, but at this point it’s additional labor and not additional materials, so I added everything up. (When I started this blog my goal was to make things for $100 or less, and I’m seeing costs creep up because of nice materials. Hopefully my next project is a lot cheaper!)

All the hair you can see in the picture below is my own, which is currently shoulder-length. I pinned a big hair rat to the top of my head and two smaller ones on the sides, and then all the hair was pulled over the rats and pinned into place. The messy center was hidden by a faux hair bun pinned on top.IMG_2856

I’m not sure yet, but this might be a nice gala gown for Costume College 2019, when it’s all done!