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Beaded Regency Court Dress (Part 2)

The dress is nearly done!img_1061

I’m excited that this is nearly complete, with just a few minor things to do. It’s taken a little longer than I thought! Sewing is about learning from your mistakes, and I’ve been doing some learning.

Lesson 1: It’ll stretch more than you think

I accounted for a bit of the stretch of the mesh fabric when cutting out the skirt, but underestimated how much more it would stretch afterwards. I was afraid I was being too careful and the skirt would be a little too short, but after I attached it to the bodice and let it hang for a bit, the heavy beads dragged the skirt down to a length that would have required stripper heels instead of dainty Regency slippers to manage.

Due to the scalloped border I couldn’t hem the fabric at the bottom of the skirt, so as much as it pained me to undo all the hand-stitching I removed the skirt, cut off some excess at the top, removed even more beads, and reattached it.

Lesson 2: What looks good on the dress form doesn’t always look good on you

Redoing the skirt gave me the chance to also redistribute the gathering. Originally I had made the front flat to avoid the dreaded pregnant Regency look, and focused most of the fabric on the sides and back. However, once I put the dress on I realized the extra beading on the sides made me look a little wide and boxy. Here are some quick shots with my phone showing before (left) and after (right) without petticoats.

Because of the peculiarities of my figure (mainly the shape and size of my ribs and chest), the version on the left looked better on the mannequin, but not particularly well on me. Normally, to reduce bulk at the waistline I would have cut tapered panels, but could not do that with the beaded fabric. I also wanted it to be fuller than the lining underneath. Since the beaded layer is essentially a gathered rectangle there’s a bit more bulk around the empire waist than I would like, but the new version with redistributed fabric is still a little more flattering on me than looking like a sugary green rectangle.

Although most of the examples of Napoleonic dresses I’ve seen have a flat, columnar front, I did find this extant dress worn by Empress Josephine that is gathered all around.regency1

Lesson 3: Working with sheer, beaded fabrics will double your sewing time.

This bag represents only a portion of what I had to carefully unpicked from the seams,  darts, and placket panel. There are plenty more that ended up on the floor or hiding in the corners of my house. My next dress will definitely be made of solid fabric!img_1032

To minimize snagging on the mesh, instead of hooks and eyes I made covered buttons and loops for the back closure, and added a placket. (Yes, I had to remove all the beading on the fabric used to make these buttons too).img_1018

I think smaller buttons might have been a better choice, but that size of button-covering kit was what I had on hand, and I do like having them large enough to have a different pattern on each.

Lesson 4: If you hoard it long enough it will come in handy

Years ago, when I started sewing, I bought a spool of “invisible thread.” It was actually beige nylon and not as invisible as clear fishing line, so I never knew what to do with it until I obtained beige netting fabric! (I’m not kidding when I say I think I’ve had the spool for nearly 15 years).

The beaded motifs are staggered in a way that I had to cut through a few of them to make the center back seam, and the beige nylon thread came in rather handy for putting the two sides together. (I hand-sewed two rows of stitching for extra security).IMG_1043.JPG

I would  have loved to do a slight train on the dress, but the fabric I had was not wide enough. I will have to make up for it with the velvet court train for the rest of this ensemble!

I still need to bind the raw edges inside, do a little bit of final fit adjustments, snip loose threads, etc. to clean the dress up before I wear it to take photos.

My to-do list:

  • Buy materials for the court train: I’m looking for a rose cotton or silk velvet
  • Make matching shoe clips for my American Duchess Pemberly slippers (affiliate link)
  • Make a Regency diadem; I already have the materials ready!
  • Make a reticule out of leftover pieces of the beading. (I have no more of the green chiffon except some small scraps, so I may make the base fabric match the velvet train).

Read part 1 here.

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Beaded Regency Court Dress (Part 1)

My current project is a beaded Regency court dress using Butterick B6074 as a starting point. Here is a sneak peek of the bodice; I took this picture before closures were added.img_0973

The dress consists of 3 layers: a sheer netting with beads, sequins, and faux pearls; a seafoam green chiffon interlining, and a cotton voile lining. I don’t know if the seafoam green is historically correct. Most of the extant Napoleonic court gowns I’ve seen are white or ivory, with most of the color in the embroidery and the sumptuous court trains.  However, I love that particular shade, and the way it looks against the bronze sequins in the netting. (The fabric is from Fabric Wholesale Direct and has gold embroidery, with round and cylindrical seed beads, round and leaf-shaped sequins, and round and oval faux pearls).img_0802

I did find this portrait of the Empress Marie Louise in what appears to be a light blue gown.lefevre_maria_luigia

Because the fabric I’m using for the outer layer of the gown is sheer and beaded I am trying to minimize seams. It keeps me from cutting through too many motifs, and saves me some time since I have to remove all the beads and sequins from each seam to reduce bulk. I altered the pattern by combining the two should strap pieces into one (eliminating the shoulder seam), and redrafting the back bodice and side bodice pieces to be one. The placement of the seams are no longer quite correct, but it did make sewing easier. I also raised the back because it is very low cut and my stays would have shown.IMG_0887.JPG

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Because of all the beading, and because the foot pedal of my sewing machine is having electrical problems, this gown is mostly hand-sewn. Thus, it is taking a while, especially since I am super paranoid every time I have to cut into this precious fabric!img_0998

Tudor Kirtle (Part 3): Kirtle and Smock

Tudor Kirtle (Part 3): Kirtle and Smock

I finally had some sun and a weekend at home to take some pictures. I had 4 garments that were finished and not photographed, including this kirtle and smock. I made the kirtle earlier in the year for a faire I ended up not being able to attend, so I don’t have any pictures of it worn yet.img_0729

The kirtle is made of a blue worsted wool and lined with a linen-blend, which was also used to make the smock. Both garments are made with patterns from the Tudor Tailor.img_0731

The kirtle has spiral lacing on both sides. I chose to have the openings on the side to increase the versatility of the kirtle. I can wear it as-is, or with other clothing over it.img_0734

The back has a rounded neckline.img_0739

Parts 1 and 2 discuss my construction details.

The smock is rather straight-forward, and is really a series of rectangles of varying sizes. Most of the time was spent on the collar and cuffs, so if you wanted a plain one the sewing would go very quickly.

Final project costs:

  • 4 meters blue worsted wool: $104.88 from Aliexpress. (I probably could have made this out of 3 meters, but bought 4 to be safe. I still have plenty to make sleeves).
  • 6 yards Kaufman handkerchief linen/cotton: $45.17 with tax from Fabric.com. (I used this for the smock and lining, and have enough left over for a 18th century chemise).
  • 10 yards linen tape: $10.40 including tax from Britex Fabrics.

Total: $160.45

This is a bit more than my usual projects, but wool is not cheap (even though I felt I got a decent deal on the fabric), and I have plenty of materials left over for other projects.

I would like to make a pair of sleeves and a partlet to wear with it. I already own a few other accessories, such as a straw hat, my gorgeous American Duchess Stratfords (affiliate link),  and a beautiful blackwork coif commissioned from Romantic Recollections!img_0744screen-shot-2016-12-26-at-3-21-45-pm

Tudor Kirtle (Part 2): The Skirt

Part one, learning from my bodice mistakes, is here. This post is about what I learned while making the skirt the wrong way.

After cutting out the skirt panels, which are really just two large rectangles, one for the front and one for the back, I folded the tops over, stitched them, and then folded them over again to enclose all raw edges. (Have you figured out yet what I did wrong?) Then I pleated them and stitched the top of the pleats in place. (Each long edge of each panel was folded in once because it was the selvage).img_9245

The panels were stitched together at the sides, leaving room for pocket slits. Then the pleated edge of the skirt was sewn to the bottom edge of the bodice, right sides together. (Here my sewing got very sloppy because I was making the kirtle last minute for an event). This is what the interior of the kirtle looked like:fullsizeoutput_c7

Remember from part one how I realized the worsted wool was too fine for boning, and the reed showed through? Since I had folded the tops of the pleats over twice, the extra bulk showed through on the other side! It wasn’t obvious when the skirt was on a hanger, but once I put it on my stomach pushed the pleats outward, causing a visible line on the outside where I did not want it.

I realized at that point that what I should have done was pleat the skirt panels, attach them to the bodice, then finish sewing the bodice lining over the pleats to enclose the raw edges.

I was too lazy to take it all apart due to all the hand-sewing involved, so I ended up having to unfold part of the pleats and trim off the stitched edge with scissors. Here is the inside again:img_0618

I should still trim the raw edge with pinking shears to prevent fraying, but now there is not a bulky line that shows when worn!fullsizeoutput_c8

Then when hemming I made the mistake of just folding up the bottom a certain number of inches and stitching without pinning and putting it on before sewing because I was in a hurry and thought I had cut things pretty evenly.

Yeah, it wasn’t that even, and wool stretches. So, after my event got rained out and I couldn’t go, I put the kirtle on and had some friends help me look it over so I could re-hem it evenly.

The kirtle is now done, but I have been waiting for a sunny day to take pictures, since I haven’t had a chance to wear it out. All the pictures in this post were taken indoors, some at night, and you can see it made the wool seem like four different colors!

To wear under the kirtle, I made a smock using a pattern from the Tudor Tailor book I bought on Amazon (affiliate link). It is also awaiting proper photos. Meanwhile, here is a teaser picture!img_9824

Costume College: Saturday and Sunday

On Saturday at Costume College I dressed up in my 1770s robe à l’Anglaise retroussée and got together with some other ladies wearing the same “LJUSÖGA” Ikea print. We previously wore the dresses at the Pirate Festival, but my dress was not fully finished at the time. (Close-ups and construction details will be in my next post).IMG_8767

Saturday at Costume College started with the wonderfully informative class “Dark Secrets from the Care and Storage of Museum Objects,” taught by Carolyn Jamerson, a Collections Manager and Mount Maker at FIDM. I learned a lot of about the storage of clothing in museums, and some tips I can use at home. Carolyn also went over what not to do, and had many anecdotes about items donated to the museum in various stages of disrepair.

Later I ran into these dapper military gentlemen:IMG_8753

Rebecca had this fetching plaid ensemble.IMG_8764

Maggie had this great Mad Max outfit that she roughed up to look dirty, but wasn’t. I almost didn’t recognize her out of regency attire!IMG_8780

This Marie Antoinette dress was so charming!IMG_8782

This “Mountain Man” gave me an informative impromptu lecture about the life of a mountain man and the significance of all the little items hanging on his neck.IMG_8762

After lunch I took two more classes before getting ready for the gala. “A Fortnight in 1916” was a great lecture by Leimomi Oakes about life on the homefront during WWII in New Zealand. She lived for 2 weeks like a lady in 1916, even cooking recipes from newspapers of the time. I also took “Fancy Footwear: Vintage Shoes 1920s to 1940s” from Lauren Stowell of American Duchess, and after class I got to try on some of the samples from her new line at Royal Vintage Shoes.

For the evening red carpet, dinner, and gala I dressed as Lady Tremaine. I made a lengthy post with many details that you can read here.IMG_8853

There were so many wonderful costumes at the gala I can’t post them all! I also ran into a lovely Cinderella cosplayer!IMG_8870

Lynne and Natalie (check out that train!) looked impeccable as always.IMG_8839

Molly’s Kaylee Firefly dress set many geek hearts aflutter.IMG_8836

The Dreamstress and the Lady Detalle! So regal!IMG_8844

These 18th century ladies (Lauren, Loren, and two other amazing people) were fabulous in silk.IMG_8848

Christina’s  1830s hair was a work of art.IMG_8863IMG_8866

And of course, Cynthia’s faithful recreation of the Worth Ironwork gown was the talk of the night!IMG_8895IMG_8898

On Sunday I decided to have a more casual outfit by wearing my vintage 1950s purple taffeta dress with my Lady Tremaine hat.IMG_8948

Natalie portrayed the artist Louise Elisabeth Vigee Le Brun.IMG_8932

Christina had this fabulous Bar Suit recreation.IMG_8937

I found Taylor, Jenny, Jen, and Ginger near the hotel lobby. Can you believe the cutwork on Jen’s sleeves were done by hand?IMG_8922

Gloria was also hanging out near the lobby, and wearing 18th century.IMG_8930

On Sunday I took three classes. “Achieving the Perfect Nineteenth Century Silhouette 1830 to 1894” by Luca Costigliolo, the guest teacher from Italy, was an incredible class that emphasized how common padding was to achieving the perfect silhouette, regardless to the lady’s figure. I wish I had had the chance to get into his limited classes! The next class I took was “Creating a Miss Fisher 1920s/30s Wardrobe” by Lauren Stowell, who asked me to come model my 1920s cocoon coat. Afterwards, I asked Lauren to try it on. IMG_8951

My last class of the day was “Wearing Your Food” by Janea Whitacre of Colonial Williamsburg, who discussed names of food being used to describe different colors of dye and it was an interesting lecture. This year I took 3 classes a day and I think that was an ideal amount. There was room in the schedule for more, but it gave me enough time to socialize and eat in between.

I had a wonderful Costume College, and am already planning for the next one!

The rest of my photos are on Flickr.

Lady Tremaine at Costume College

For the red carpet and gala dinner at Costume College last week I wore my finished Lady Tremaine costume! I mostly do historical costume, but I enjoyed doing cosplay as Cinderella’s stepmother. I started this project last year, and it was So Much Work making all the layers and pieces, and cutting out and applying all the floral appliques on the bodice, skirt, and hat, but it was worth it in the end!IMG_8853IMG_8854IMG_8856IMG_8857

(You can make your own too! At the end of this post I list all the materials and tutorials for the skirts).

I’ve made a number of posts (linked at the bottom) with construction details, but a quick recap of what this costume entails:

  • sequined bodice with black flocking appliques
  • black velvet column skirt
  • overskirt with 2 layers of green satin and 2 layers of black organza, with green flocking appliques
  • giant hat with 2 layers of sinamay and 1 layer of organza, with black flocking appliques, feathers, and birds
  • giant velvet bustle pad
  • velvet scarf
  • suede gloves
  • citrine jewelry: earrings, brooch, bracelet
  • wig

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My wig was a little small for my large head, but my friend Natalie still did an amazing job styling my wig! She used a large hair rat to make a big roll in the back, then did a few pincurls.  Here’s a few shots from the hotel room.IMG_8793IMG_8799IMG_8800

The earrings and brooch are vintage, while my gloves and bracelet are new.IMG_8971

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When lining up for the red carpet I ran into another Lady Tremaine!IMG_8804

I didn’t have time to put in boning, and I have terrible posture, so whenever I slouched you could see the bodice wrinkling. My improvements wish list for next time are boning, maybe some black crystals around the flowers (just like the movie version), and possibly a a larger wig.

At the end of the evening I found a shoeshine stand in the hotel to sit on. I felt like a shoe advertisement. “Lady Tremaine prefers American Duchess.” (I am wearing the black tango boots).IMG_8909

I am looking forward to wearing this again!

Ok, the final tally! I normally spend about $100 per costume, but this was a very special project, with its own special budget, and not something I would make every year. Some techniques were new to me, and there was also some trial and error, with some materials purchased but ultimately not used. So here is the list (including some Amazon affiliate links)!

Main materials ($240.14 total):

  • 8 yards green crepe back satin: $23.92 (from Fabric Wholesale Direct)*
  • 10 yards black crystal organza: $19.99 (from FWD)
  • 2 yards black micro velvet: $17.98 (from FWD)
  • 2 yards silky habutai lining: $3.58 (from FWD)
  • Shipping for above: $12.95 (from FWD)
  • 2 yards sequin fabric: $29 including shipping (from Etsy)
  • 5 yards green heat-transfer flocking: $51.80 including shipping from Imprintables Warehouse
  • 2 rolls black heat transfer flocking: $31.64 (including tax from Amazon)
  • 4 yards horsehair braid: $27.41 (from Fabric Depo, a local store)
  • Vintage Pattern Lending Library basque pattern: $15 including shipping (from a Facebook destash group)
  • Green zipper: $6.87 including shipping (from eBay; I eventually got a different one from a friend but still paid for this one)

Not used ($76.80 total):

  • 5 sheets neon green flocking: $21.95 including shipping (from Etsy)
  • 10 yards black Mistyfuse:$21.85 (from Etsy and eBay)
  • 2.2 yards green felt: $33 including shipping (from Etsy)

Hat materials ($77.56 total):

Accessories, not including shoes ($70.87 total):

FINAL COST: $465.37 (holy crap)

FINAL COST – NOT USED: $388.57 (getting better)

*Fabric Wholesale Direct very kindly gave me all the satin, organza, and velvet for free in exchange for two tutorials I wrote for the velvet skirt and the overskirt so if I subtract out what they gave me  . . .

FINAL FINAL COST: $310.15 (slightly less scary, but still not a frequent endeavor)

And 40 yards of materials!

If you’ve made it this far, thank you for reading this monster post! Stay tuned for posts from 4 days of Costume College!

Previous posts:

 

Matching “LJUSÖGA” 18th Century Dresses at the NorCal Pirate Festival

Recently a group of us noticed that Ikea has some “LJUSÖGA” duvet covers in an pretty floral print with a pattern, scale, and colors appropriate for 18th century cotton dresses.

We each bought a king size set, which included a duvet cover and 2 pillow cases, to make matching dresses with. We estimate there’s about 11 yards of 40 inch fabric, which is an incredible bargain for $30! (The price has now gone up to $40 on the website).

I decided to make an anglaise, and originally planned to start on it after Costume College, but just a few weeks ago we decided to go to the Pirate Festival together, and having nice cotton dresses would be perfect for the weather. (There will be more of us at the next event; some ladies are still working on their dresses).

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Due to the short time frame my dress is not quite finished, but was wearable, with some things I’d like to improve for next time:

  • I did not have time to put a flounce on my petticoat; it’s a bit shorter than I intended (although it shows off my American Duchess stockings and shoes!)
  • The neckline and front of the bodice has ruffled trim instead of box pleats to save time. Now that it’s on I might be too lazy to replace it, but it was originally meant to be temporary.
  • My sleeves are untrimmed. I would like to add some ruffling or pleating and some button detail.
  • My fichu should be pinned down. I just tied it with a ribbon and it kept riding up until it looked more like a bandana than a fichu.
  • I didn’t have time to get a new plain bergere hat to trim, so I reused the small one I wore with my silk francaise.
  • My hair is not done in a historically accurate style; I just curled it, made a bun, and then hid the mess with flowers.
  • And scandalously, I am not wearing stays(!), so there is a little wrinkling in the bodice. I do own stays, but the festival was outdoors in 90 degree heat, so I decided one less layer was preferable.

Since this is still a work in progress I will do a full post with detail photos, construction notes, and cost breakdown another time, but meanwhile here are a few pictures. The dress consists of a bodice with a front closure, trimmed with ruffles, attached to a pleated overskirt. The petticoat is made of matching fabric. I am wearing those over a bum pad and another petticoat, along with two pockets.

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The back of the skirt can be lifted with cords and looped around covered buttons to be worn as a robe à l’Anglaise retroussée. I’m still thinking about adjusting the length of the cords or the distribution of the fabric because this wasn’t quite the look I was aiming for.

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I did have a mishap with the buttons. I couldn’t locate my button-covering kit so the night before the festival I just wrapped some fabric around some domed plastic buttons until I could buy more of the right buttons. After I laundered the skirt the dye from the black plastic buttons actually bled through two layers of fabric and onto other parts of my skirt!IMG_8262

After several rounds of OxiClean, and a final careful swabbing of diluted bleach, I have the stains out and I’ve learned my lesson about mystery buttons from the stash. I will stick to my usual metal buttons, like this redcoat who was wearing lots of shiny buttons.

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