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Wearing History Dahlia 1940s Gathered Blouse

This post is way overdue, because I made this 1940s-style blouse in August and have been enjoying it ever since! It was made using the Wearing History Dahlia 1940s Gathered Blouse pattern, with some modifications I’ll detail below.IMG_3702

This blouse is made with vintage cotton I found at the Costume College Bargain Basement. There was just enough, with careful cutting, for me to make this blouse and run the border of the print down the center front and as faux cuffs on the sleeves.IMG_3703

I used a combination of View A and B because I wanted the V-neck of View A but the button front of View B. (This also means instead of having the side closure of View A, I put hooks and eyes down the center of the peplum).

The blouse pattern doesn’t actually have a yoke. I just did a tuck in the back to hide a flaw in the fabric. I also did a neck facing instead of binding.IMG_3699

I did keep the lovely gathers in the shoulder! That is one of my favorite parts of the pattern.IMG_3701

I made button loops and self-covered buttons for the closure.IMG_3697

The last change I did was to shorten and slim the sleeves a bit because I have a small frame and skinny arms. I think the sleeve pattern as-is would work for most people; it is accurate to the slightly boxy look of the 1940s.IMG_3665

My modifications were for personal preference and not because of any flaw in the pattern. I found that the sizing was accurate and the pieces fit together. I highly recommend Wearing History and the Dahlia 1940s Gathered Blouse pattern!

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Crimson Peak-Inspired Costume at Spooky Victorian Tea Party

I recently attended a “Spooky Victorian Tea Party” hosted by the GBACG, and wore an outfit inspired by Edith Cushing’s picnic outfit in the Crimson Peak movie. When I saw the movie in theaters I immediately fell in love with that creepy hand belt!06a80c2771674a757c37cc5248095268

The belt buckle is meant to mimic carved ivory and the belt is meant to be hair, inspired by mourning jewelry.IMG_8541

I didn’t have time to blog the research and progress, so this post is going to do double-duty. Here is Edith with a beautiful pleated blouse, silk taffeta skirt, a fancy belt, a fugly hat, and a handsome man (Sir Thomas Sharpe).picnic-dress1

My outfit was inspired by, but not a cosplay, for a few reasons. First, I’m using my own hair instead of a blond wig. For reasons of time and cost, I wanted to be able to reuse my ensemble with different accessories for a historical costume like a suffragette outfit. For practical reasons, I could not get the exact same kind of lace on the blouse, and didn’t plan to drive myself crazy looking for it. Finally, I hate the taco hat.

Seriously, it looks like the tostada they give you at Chevy’s on your birthday. Edith even looks embarrassed to be wearing it in this photo.uvkYG7X

In another part of the movie, Edith wears the same skirt with a jacket and a boater. Isn’t that hat so much cuter?IMG_4591

I made my own with a bit of hat surgery, and decorated it with butterflies since those are a theme in the movie.IMG_4627

The costume was on display at FIDM, and a friend went to take photos and report back to me whether the silk taffeta in the skirt was bronze, copper, or pink because the promo photos were inconsistent.

By the way, if you have eagle eyes, or you’re just obsessive like me, you’ll notice a flaw or heavy crease in the silk running between the second-to-last two buttons. This did not happen during transport to the museum. Look again at the pictures I posted above; they are in the movie!IMG_9064

The verdict was bronze. Luckily, another friend was having a garage sale and I got the perfect shade! (In progress photo below).IMG_4495.JPG

I apologize for the poor quality of my photos from the day of the party. The lighting in the tea venue was not the best, and I had just my phone to take pictures, so the colors are darker than they are in real life.IMG_4696

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Both my patterns for the skirt (“Fan-Skirt about 1890”) and blouse (“Edwardian blouse”) came from Black Snail Patterns on Etsy. It was my first time using them and I recommend this company highly!  I made some small modifications, but not many. I love how the back of the skirt falls.IMG_4714

I did not have time to make a new organdy petticoat and had to make do with some petticoats suitable for other silhouettes, so next time the skirt should be fuller.IMG_4715

I used a pleated silk chiffon over a base of cotton gauze for the blouse. I overlaid this with lace, and dyed all three materials with tea.IMG_E4682.JPG

And surprise, my creepy sister-in-law Lucille was at the party! I do hope she was not the one who prepared the tea.IMG_0026

The food (at Tyme for Tea in Niles, CA) was delicious, and the champagne generous!IMG_4742

This costume is still a work in progress. I have the following things planned:

  1. Make the belt. The belt in the movie is made of braided hair. I tried to make my own with a big French braid but it came out very lumpy and thick. It was so unflattering that the morning of the party I decided to just use a plain black belt instead. I will try again with tiny braids sewn to a backing.
  2. Replace the skirt buttons. I used some very thick molded vintage Czech glass buttons. They were lovely, but very heavy and pulled on the front of the skirt and made it collapse. I will have to find some lighter buttons.
  3. Fix the blouse back. Because I have narrow shoulders and a small bust I took in the shoulder seams. I accidentally took too much without accounting for what it would do to the upper closures, so I have a little pulling and gapping between the upper buttons. I’m not sure yet whether to fix this with a modesty panel, more buttons, a little boning along the closures, or a few hooks and eyes.
  4. Replace the lace on the cuffs. I used some black lace appliqués, but I think they are too heavy-looking, and would like to find some delicate black flowers similar to what I have at the collar.

Normally I would do a tally of the costs, but since this outfit is not really done, I will save that for when I truly finish! For now, here is a resource list.

I’m looking forward to wearing this at Costume College with the fixes!IMG_4782

A Tudor Kirtle and Smock at a Renaissance Faire

Last year I made a Tudor kirtle and smock using patterns from the Tudor Tailor. (You can see my previous construction posts here).

However, due to rain and mud the Renaissance Faire I was supposed to attend with my friends got canceled. Finally, nearly a year later I got to wear my kirtle!IMG_4336

This is a lower-class garment, so there is no boning. The smooth front of the bodice is achieved with 2 layers of canvas sandwiched between a layer of worsted wool and the linen lining. I think my back is a tad long, hence the wrinkling, but I’m still pleased with the overall fit of my first kirtle. There are slits in the side to access my pockets.IMG_4342

I am wearing a blackwork coif commissioned from Romantic Recollections, and Stratford shoes from American Duchess (affiliate link).

And like all good faires there were beautiful ladies (Amanda, Samantha, Kelsey, and Natalie) . . .IMG_4265

dashing gentlemen . . .IMG_4348

court gossip . . .IMG_4401

the Queen . . .IMG_4393.JPG

and codpiece parasol jousting (Elizabeth and Lynne).IMG_4380.JPG

This was my first Ren Faire (really!) and I had a great time. I’ve been to lots of other historical events, including SCA, but not a Ren Faire before so this was a new experience. I’ll be back!

Decades of Style 1930s Beach Pajamas Pattern Review

My last completed project (actually done before Gatsby but not photographed until later) was a pair of 1930s beach pajamas, using the Decades of Style 1930s Last Resort Beach PJs pattern.PHOTO 7.JPG

When deciding if a pattern is good I have these criteria:

  • Is the sizing chart accurate?
  • Do the pieces fit together?
  • Does the finished item look like the pattern envelope?
  • Does the garment fit and flatter?
  • Do the instructions make sense?

Um, check, check, and check! I’ve used Decades of Style before and once again I’m impressed by the quality of their work and highly recommend this pattern.3015_webart_final

I did not make the jacket so I can’t comment on that, but the beach PJs themselves went together nicely. If you’ve made pants before this should be easy for you. It is a pair of high-waisted pants with a top that doesn’t have too many pieces. I made the backless version because I didn’t have a long zipper in the right color, but there is an optional triangle pattern piece for the back if you want to be able to wear a regular bra.PHOTO 8.JPG

I made a small change in that I made and used bias tape to bind the neckline and armholes, and added a bow. The pattern includes facings and I did not use those since I wanted decorative binding.

The pants legs are also really long! This is great for tall people, or someone who wants to wear high heels. I had to cut a few extra inches off my hems, but that is a very easy fix, and better than finding out near the end that the pattern runs short.

The pockets in the pattern are a nice touch (even if I accidentally made one of mine higher because I was sewing late at night)! They are a functional size, and are a cute detail.

Just for fun, this is a picture of a mockup I did in a flower fabric I picked up from the CoCo Bargain Basement. I just roll-hemmed the raw edges, but it’s good enough to wear around the house as a lounge outfit.IMG_3606

I used rayon challis for this project, so mine are nice and soft, just like real PJs!. I see this being a very comfortable outfit for a future Gatsby picnic, or the beach! IMG_4105.JPG

Project costs:

  • 8 yards navy rayon challis: $30.32 from Fabric Wholesale Direct. (You only need 3-4, but I doubled up because i wanted a thicker garment).
  • 1 yard red rayon challis: $3.99 from FWD
  • 4 cones serger thread: $10.36 from FWD. (Since I was doubling up the fabric I sealed the layers together with a serger during flat-lining).
  • 1 blue zipper: ~$1 from eBay (part of a lot)
  • Pattern: $27.75 from Decades of Style (including shipping and tax, bought during a sale)

I got the first three items from FWD in exchange for a tutorial on their website, so my actual out-of-pocket cost was less than $30, instead of $73.42!

I like this pattern a lot, and would love to make it again if I find the right print.

Summary: Buy this pattern from Decades, and see you on the beach!IMG_4445

Gatsby Summer Afternoon Picnic 2017

The annual “Gatsby Summer Afternoon” (casually known as the Gatsby Picnic) at the Dunsmuir House in Oakland, California, had another lovely event recently! I finally got a chance to wear my original 1930s cotton organza dress and had a great time socializing with an impeccably dressed and fun crowd.

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Photo by John Carey Photographic Imagery

I love how this is a versatile dress! I can change up my look by wearing a different color slip (which is also vintage). My hat is a vintage one that I retrimmed. I am wearing the beautiful Lillian heels from Royal Vintage Shoes.IMG_4075

It was a hot and sunny day, and my sunglasses were definitely needed! (They are not quite right, but close enough for an Amazon find).IMG_4074

Kelsey is divine in 1930s ensemble she sewed using a Wearing History pattern.IMG_4016.JPG

Natalie is lovely in a vintage 1930s dress, the navy version of the Lillian, and a hat she crocheted herself!IMG_4020.JPG

Here we three are again with Jess and Abby.IMG_4082

The event was full of vintage cars, amid the backdrop of the wonderful Dunsmuir House mansion.IMG_4068.JPG

In years past we always had too much food and leftovers, so we scaled back the food. You can’t see from the photo, but I think we had more beverages (especially delightful cocktails!) instead of food.IMG_4047.JPG

As always, the table was organized by my friend Kim, shown here wearing a handmade dress and waiting patiently in line with David.IMG_3991.JPG

I made my boutonniere using some vintage flowers, floral tape, and silk taffeta that I cut into a ribbon.IMG_3980.JPG

I made the belt out of a broken half of a buckle, more vintage flowers, and some silk taffeta.IMG_3966

We had a great time!  Elizabeth high-fiving with the American Duchess ladies included!IMG_4072.JPG

Can you count the number of Lillians in this post? They were definitely the hot new shoe people were sporting at the picnic! I can’t wait until next year!IMG_3993.JPG

1660s Cavalier Dress at Costume College (and Bonus: Hacking the American Duchess 18th Century Undergarments Pattern to Make a 17th Century Chemise)

I now have photos for my 1660s Cavalier dress from official Costume College photographer Andrew Schmidt, as well as a great group photo of the rest of my Cavalier ladies!IMG_4216-(ZF-7662-83598-1-001)

You can see my previous posts about this project under the tag “Cavalier” but if you keep reading I will discuss the things that went wrong with this project, and what I would do differently in the future, so you can learn from my mistakes!IMG_4217-(ZF-7662-83598-1-002)

I am very happy with how our group turned out, with the variety of colors, trimming, and hairstyles. Left to right, back to front: me, Teresa, Cate, Kim, Jessie, and Elizabeth.IMG_4211-(ZF-7662-83598-1-003)

I used the Nehelenia 1660 Baroque dress pattern. This era is completely new to me, and I have no experience with this shape of the bodice, so I followed all the instructions. This included making bound bodice tabs (similar to 18th century stays, seen below) to help distribute the weight of the skirt, and sewing all the bodice pieces of the fashion fabric together before attaching it to the boned interlining.IMG_2904

These steps may be period correct, but created some extra work and issues, so I have some comments about what I would do differently if I made another dress of this style:

  1. No tabs! Anyone who has made stays knows how time-consuming it is to bind them! Since my skirt was a lightweight taffeta, I could have skipped the tabs and pleated the skirt directly to the bodice and saved a lot of time. (I would not recommend this for a heavy skirt like velvet or brocade). Dressing would have been much easier too, since I would have had a one-piece dress to slip over my undergarments. Instead, I had to make sure the front tab was over my skirt, while my back and side tabs were underneath my skirt, while my bum roll was over my bodice back tabs but under my skirt. It took some help getting dressed!
  2. Do not finish the fashion layer before sewing it to the interlining. I had some problems with wrinkling in the bodice. I think it would have helped if I sewed the fashion fabric to the interlining, and then sewed each pattern piece together (the way 18th century stays are made). This would have reduced the wrinkling and wiggling. I talked to someone else at the  Gala who was also wearing a 1660s gown, and hers was so smooth! She said she sewed the bodice the way she would a pair of stays.
  3. Maybe skip the cartridge-pleating. I love tiny cartridge pleats; they look delightful and neat. I am glad I did them for this dress, but for speed in the future I would probably do larger pleats to save time. I ended up spending so much time on them that I was not able to do my eyelet closures before a medical procedure made it impossible for me to sew, and recovery took longer than expected so I had to be sewn into my dress at CoCo! (I can’t remember the last time I showed up at an event without closures, but it’s a humbling reminder that life sometimes intervenes.)

Some of my problems may have been attributable to my use of silk taffeta instead of a thicker silk satin, but I wanted to use what I had in my stash, and the skirt was so light and lovely to wear.

I made the jewelry out of giant acrylic pearls, strung with fishing line. Glass pearls would have been lovely, but very heavy, and since I was going to pin the drape directly to a silk taffeta dress with a silk gauze neckline, I wanted it lighter.

Bonus: Hacking the American Duchess 18th Century Undergarments Pattern to Make a 17th Century Chemise)

I promised a pattern hack in the title, and here it is! This 17th century dress required an off-the-shoulder chemise, which I did not have. I also did not want to draft one from scratch, so I hacked the American Duchess 18th Century Undergarments pattern (Simplicity 8162). This is what the original pattern looks like:8162

Ignoring the ruffles, you have a body panel with a shoulder strap, a sleeve gusset for the underarm, and a square sleeve that is folded to form a tube.IMG_2634.JPG

However, what if you fold down the shoulder strap, shift the sleeve and gusset down, and double the size of the sleeve piece to make it fuller? (Previously you cut a square that became a tube, now you cut a large rectangle that becomes a square).IMG_2639.JPG

This is the shape you get:IMG_2644.JPG

Add a drawstring neckline, and you get an off-the-shoulder chemise!IMG_2648.JPG

Please note, my sleeves are a bit shorter than what you see historically. A proper 17th century chemise would have had much longer and exaggerated sleeves. I made these shorter for several reasons:

  1. I plan to reuse this with other gowns where a billowy chemise sleeve would be inconvenient.
  2. The portrait I am using as inspiration has an exposed chemise sleeve made of finer materials than the linen I used, plus little ribbon ties; thus I made false sleeves that can be attached to my black bodice that will allow for nicer fabric and no need to fuss with tying bows each time I wear it.

So, if you do not have the reasons enumerated above, you should quadruple (not double) the original sleeve pattern into a giant square, not a rectangle.IMG_3853

(Yes, those are green and purple crayons because my child left them next to my computer and I was too lazy to go looking for nicer writing implements).

Final reckoning:  Let’s tally up!

  • 10 yards of 35″ black silk taffeta: $49.90 + $8.75 shipping = $58.65 (Yay for fabulous sales from FabricMart!)
  • Nehelenia pattern: $23.96 including shipping (I ordered with a few other ladies and split the postage from Europe)
  • Lining and boning: $0 (left over from my 18th century stays project)
  • 2 yards linen (for chemise) and 1 yard silk gauze (for bodice neckline): $23.94 including tax and shipping from Dharma Trading (I ordered double that but am setting the rest aside for a different project, so I’m halving the cost)
  • 1 yard silk cotton blend for lower sleeves: $17.99 from Amazon
  • 120 giant pearls: $11.28 from Aliexpress
  • 2 brooches: $5.40 from Aliexpress
  • 2 “small spiral corkscrew” cheerleading/Irish dancing hair clips: $43.11 including shipping from eBay seller american_costumes
  • Ribbon, thread, hooks and eyes, polyfill for the bumroll, etc. from stash ~$5?

Total: $189.33

So the silk was cheap, but all the extras added up! Normally I do not count accessories and hairpieces, but in this case they are very specific to this era and the portrait inspiration, and they’re not very versatile for other eras.

Finally of course, as always, my shoes are American Duchess. They are the Pompadour French Court Shoes in black (affiliate link).

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This was a long post, so thanks for reading!

Regency / Napoleonic Court Gown and Train at Costume College 2017

I received my photos from the official Costume College photographer Andrew Schmidt  so I can show you my complete Regency/Napoleonic court gown and train ensemble!*

* A note about terminology: Technically, English Regency court gowns were a really odd silhouette where you had the high waist but very wide shape, and French gowns of the Napoleonic period had the more columnar shape, so my whole outfit is French style. However, for simplicity in some of my past posts I have been using the term “Regency” because I can wear my gown without the formal court train.IMG_3396-(ZF-3567-92908-1-002)IMG_3397-(ZF-3567-92908-1-003)

I love this view of the back. Thanks Mr. Schmidt for making sure the circle was laid out nicely!IMG_3399-(ZF-3567-92908-1-001)

I have made a number of posts about the construction process of the dress and train and you can find them under the Napoleonic tag on my blog, but I will summarize a few main points here.

For the dress I used the Butterick B6074 pattern, with some modifications (described in previous posts). The dress is made out of a mint green chiffon with white cotton voile lining, and the fancy layer on top is a heavily embellished net with embroidery and several types of sequins, beads, and faux pearls. I had a few questions about whether I used a sari. It is not a sari, but a bridal lace from Fabric Wholesale Direct. Here is a close-up of the fabric before I cut it out:img_0802

For the court train I used the Butterick B4890 Josephine pattern, but I modified it to have straps instead of a bodice back. The train is made with silk velvet, lined with a linen/cotton blend, and edged in a gold-tone netting lace. The front underbust strap is closed with a vintage brooch that I found on eBay.IMG_2362

My pearl necklace and earrings were made by Gloria of In The Long Run Designs, whose Etsy shop is full of beautiful historical jewelry!

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Photo by In The Long Run Designs

My regency diadem was made by me using brass lamp banding and faux pearls. (I posted about a party where I made some other diadems here).IMG_2927

This whole outfit was really heavy and became quite uncomfortable to wear by the end of the evening! I’m glad it was worn for only a few hours at the Friday Night Social. The dress is heavily beaded and sequined, and the train is quite heavy too, and unlike a Victorian outfit where I can have a corset and hoops to help support the weight, everything was supported by my shoulders.

Here’s a quick twirling video here where you can see the dress sparkle!

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So, what’s the final tally of what everything cost? This was my “splurge” project for the year so it cost more than my usual outfits, but I think this one was worth it!

Dress:

  • 3 yards beaded lace (from Fabric Wholesale Direct): $149.85
  • 3 yards mint chiffon (from FWD): $7.47
  • 3 yards white cotton voile (from FWD): $11.97
  • Thread and fishing line (from stash)

Total = $0 (All the fabric for this dress was a gift from Fabric Wholesale Direct in exchange for a tutorial you can see on their website. Thanks FWD!)

Court train:
  • 6 yards silk velvet (from Amazon, affiliate link): $113.84 (I used 5 yards)
  • 5 yards linen/cotton lining (from Renaissance Fabrics): $32.50 + tax and shipping = $43.59
  • 10 yards lace (from Aliexpress): $34.94 (I only use half, and sold the remainder)
  • Pattern (from eBay): $7.59
  • Brooch (from eBay): $3.84 (yay no one else bid on it)
  • Button cover kit (leftover from another project): $0
  • Button loops (braided from random string I found in my house): $0

Train total = $203.80

Ouch, that’s a bit of a splurge, but it’s not terrible considering I have a lot of huge scraps of silk velvet left over, and can probably make a 1920s dress with some careful cutting, so I can get two dresses out of that price!

Tiara: The cost of this is a little tricky to calculate, because a lot of the supplies I bought in bulk, used to make other tiaras, and shared with friends. I think if you shop right and share with friends you can make one for $30 depending on how fancy you get with beads, pearls, or gemstones. A big part of the cost is buying the brass online and paying for shipping.

  • Brass banding: Etsy or lamp supply stores
  • Faux pearls and head pins: eBay or Michael’s
  • Metal hair combs: Amazon or beauty supply shops

My shoes were Pemberly Regency slippers from American Duchess (affiliate link) that I previously owned. I am also wearing short stays and a corded petticoat (not period correct, but needed to support the weight of the dress).

So in total, this ensemble will cost you about $400 of materials (not including accessories), but represented a little more than $200 out of pocket, with enough leftovers to make a second dress, so not too bad! I try to keep most gowns $100 or less, so this was my “big project” for the year.

I am very happy with how this court outfit turned out, especially how the mint and rose color combination worked together, and how the accessories completed the look. It’s also always nice too when a dress looks good from the back as well!IMG_3399-(ZF-3567-92908-1-001)