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Medieval Princess Dress

I recently made a medieval princess dress that isn’t historically correct (although inspired by 14th century cotehardies), but was fun to make, and a gift for teenage me. When I was in high school I wanted to have a medieval princess dress for prom but had neither the sewing skills to make one or the money to buy one, so this is a fulfillment of a dream! IMG_9966

Yeah, it was a bit breezy that day.IMG_9980

This dress was also a reminder that costuming and sewing is supposed to be fun, even if the details are “wrong.”  This dress has inexpensive polyester velvet, a zipper down the back, shiny jacquard trim, polyester sleeve tippets and a wrap belt made from curtain fabric, an impractical train, and princess seams! To someone concerned about historical accuracy these might be a bunch of no-nos, but this gown, despite all its anachronisms, is something I would have loved and felt pretty in back in high school. This dress is a gift for little former me.IMG_9969

I used Butterick B4827 as my pattern base. I skipped the back eyelet lacing and used an invisible zipper instead. The tippets and belt were drafted by me.  My goal was to machine-sew as much as possible, so the hem, neckline, and cuffs were machine-stitched and then covered with jacquard trim.MJNT1739.JPG

The tippets are T-shaped pieces of fabric sewn together and then turned inside-out to hide the raw edges. The tops of the Ts are then overlapped to make the cuffs.

The hair consists of 2 fake braided buns on a headband:

  1. Cover a headband in fabric matching your hair; I used black velvet.
  2. Make a short braid and cover in a hair net to help control flyaways.
  3. Wire the braid to the headband using gold wire, and insert pearls as you go.
  4. Make 2 long braids and coil each one into a bun shape.
  5. Use bobby pins to secure the bun shape.
  6. Glue pearls to each bun.
  7. Cover each bun with a hair net to control flyaways.
  8. Glue the bun to each end of the headband.

Project materials:

  • 7 yards micro-velvet from Fabric Wholesale Direct: $62.93 (I had some leftover; if you are petite and cut carefully you might be able to get a dress out of 5-6 yards).
  • 1 yard gold jacquard damask 118″ wide from FWD: $10.99
  • 6 yards jacquard trim from eBay: $12.62 (including tax and shipping)
  • Thread, buttons, pearls, wire, etc. from stash: ~$5
  • 2-3 packages of fake braiding hair and headband from stash: ~$10

Total cost: All of the fabric was a gift from my friends at Fabric Wholesale Direct, so my out of pocket cost was about $27.62 (instead of ~$101.54 plus tax and shipping). Thanks FWD!

If you’d like to make a medieval dress of your own, check out this tutorial I made. Happy sewing!EJIY8518

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A “Quick” Regency Silk Gown

I’m calling this a quick regency dress because there wasn’t a lot of planning ahead or blogging during steps, fitting was easy because I’ve used the pattern before, and the event I’m wearing it to is next week!IMG_7216

The pattern is Butterick B6074 view B, with minor modifications. The fabric is a printed silk taffeta from my stash.IMG_7222

The bodice is gathered in the front, and the stiffness of the taffeta gives the bust more fullness than I have in real life. 😉IMG_7217

The pattern has drawstring closures at the neckline and waistline, which is period, but I prefer hooks and eyes when the fabric is not a soft cotton.IMG_7220

If you’re curious about how to put in hooks and eyes to minimize gapping, I have the hooks away from the edge, and the eyes sticking over the edge. (Some people also alternate hooks and eyes on each side. I am lazy, and also wanted to use up the last few inches of hook and eye tape that I had).

I serged the armscye and bottom of the bodice to keep them neat. The shoulder straps are sewn in by hand. Here’s an inside look at the dress.IMG_7228

I have a pelisse that I will be wearing over this if the weather is cold, so I admit to be a little sloppy in some of my construction, but eh, I find most people are too distracted by pretty fabric to care. =)

I also made a matching reticule, with my leftover fabric and lining. I made the tassel out of some thick thread.IMG_E7254.JPG

Project costs:

  • 5 yards printed silk taffeta: $38 including shipping from a destash group; I have about 2 yards left over
  • Pattern: $0, already used for another dress
  • Bodice lining: $0, scraps from another project
  • Skirt lining: 2 yards cotton voile: ~$13 with tax and shipping (purchased with other items from Dharma Trading Co.)
  • Thread, lace scrap, and hooks and eyes: ~$5 from stash
  • Silk ribbon: $0, left over from another project

Total: ~$56 (even less if I sell the leftover 2 yards of taffeta to recoup some costs). Not bad for a silk dress!

I plan to wear this dress with my Pemberly slippers from American Duchess, and some beautiful new grape earrings from The Lady Detalle.IMG_7106.JPG

I look forward to wearing this print! Simple, but cute. IMG_7115.JPG

Beaded Regency Court Dress (Part 3)

I’m still working on the rest of the court ensemble but at least my dress is complete! B.JPG

I didn’t have all my accessories yet at the time so I wore a pearl tiara I had instead of a Regency diadem and did a quick updo. (My next post will be about Regency diadems; I got together with a group of friends for a tiara-making day).D.JPG

You can read Parts 1 and 2 for more information, but to summarize a few details, my dress is made up of one layer of beaded and sequined mesh, an interlining of seam foam chiffon, and a lining of cotton voile. It is made from Butterick B6074 View B, with some modifications:

  • I combined some pattern pieces to minimize seams in the beaded fabric.
  • I skipped the gathered overlay on the bodice which is recommended for solid fabrics.
  • I raised the back neckline about 1 inch.
  • I extended the bottom front bodice about 1 inch since I was not trying to achieve the tiny bodice/pushup bra look.

Note: Butterick B6074 runs large! It has a lot of ease built in for the modern wearer. I recommend going down 2 sizes.

a

For undergarments I am wearing a shift, short stays, a corded petticoat and a ruffled petticoat. I normally would not wear a corded petticoat with Regency but this dress is heavy.

I have decided to go with a rose velvet for the train, and I have been spending far too much time searching for pink velvets, getting swatches, and looking for trim. However, I think we have a winner. IMG_1185.JPG

I still need to order the rest of the fabric and find the trim, but I’ve purchased lining and have the pattern ready. I’m mulling over whether I should use my leftover beads and sequins to decorate the trim, but that may be madness speaking.

By the way, in case you think my life is glamorous, here’s a peek at real life (bad posture, clutter, and photobombing) vs. the cropped version of a selected few pictures for the blog!img_1155

UPDATE:

I wrote a tutorial for this dress, which Fabric Wholesale Direct spiffed and made into this post on their website! 

All the fabric I used for this project is from Fabric Wholesale Direct. Thank you!

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

A Giraffe Dress and Elephant PJs Using Fabrics from Tanzania

Earlier this year my friend Kim visited Tanzania and brought me back some great African fabric as a special gift.

I used this vibrant giraffe print to make myself a long dress for summer. It’s opaque enough that I was able to skip a lining, making it a perfect cotton dress for warmer weather.img_0713

I cut it out a few months ago but only recently finished because I got distracted by the Tudor kirtle.img_0714

I think it looks like the giraffes are having a chat and perhaps giving a little side-eye.img_0715

I used Vogue 8789 for the pattern, and just extended the length of the skirt to use up the width of the fabric. (You may recognize the bodice as being the same shape as my Black Swan 1950s  Ball Gown). The dress used 3 meters of fabric.img_0716

The other fabric I received from Kim was a kanga. (You can read about them and how they are used on KangaUSA). This elephant kanga is printed with the phrase “Wanyama ndiyo urithi wetu tuwatunza,” which is Swahili for “Animals are our inheritance, we should protect them.”IMG_9037.JPG

Because of the shape of the fabric and the way the print is formatted I had to think about how to cut the fabric, but realized that pajama bottoms are a great way to use a rectangular print.img_9038

The pattern is Butterick 6837, which I’ve used a number of times in the past to make PJs for myself and my family. If you have a serger and put in an elastic waistband you can make PJ pants in about an hour with enough practice.IMG_9040.JPG

I was able to use up the kanga with very little fabric wasted. Because of my height I had to piece a little fabric at the top to make it long enough, but a shorter person could skip this step. This project was so quick it was my first sewing project right after attending Costume College in August, when I wanted something easy.

I’m still working on my last project of 2016, but Happy New Year!

1840s Fan Front Dress at Dickens Fair

I have been so busy sewing a new 1840s Victorian dress the last several weeks that I didn’t even make any progress posts, so this will be a long one with lots of pictures and information about the pattern, accessories, hair, and such. I started sewing after my last visit to the Dickens Fair at the beginning of the season wearing my 1850s plaid silk dress, so this dress only took a few weeks!

I made an 1840s fan front day dress out of a wonderful reproduction cotton print by Andover Fabrics, based on an antique quilt housed at the University of Nebraska. It’s a very nice machine-washable fabric that doesn’t seem to wrinkle much. I was able to take this out of the dryer and not iron it before sewing!

I wore my dress with a cashmere/silk paisley shawl and a gorgeous sapphire silk taffeta bonnet made by my friend Lynne Taylor (more on that later).

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I apologize for the quality of the pictures; the lighting at the Fair is terrible. I do have detail shots taken at home following these photos.IMG_6401IMG_6406IMG_6410

I wish I had darker gloves; I think the white gloves look rather stark against the navy and orange.IMG_6368

I put piping in the neckline and bottom of the bodice, but it gets lost in the dark and busy print, so I didn’t bother piping the shoulders and sleeves.IMG_6371

The front is gathered into the shoulders.IMG_6373

The back closes with 8 black hooks and bars. My husband was complaining they were hard to see when he helped me get dressed.IMG_6375

The side panel is cut on the bias, so I couldn’t quite get the pattern to match up.IMG_6380

I am pleased with how invisible the hem came out.IMG_6377

I ended up with more leftover fabric than I anticipated according to the pattern. I didn’t know this when cutting out the panels, so my hem facing is only a few inches deep this time.IMG_6379

Can you see the pocket hidden in the side seams? The pattern has huge deep pockets and I put one on each side. It was actually a little awkward trying the reach the bottom of the pockets, but I was able to hold my wallet, phone, keys, fan, water bottle, tissues, a snack, a tin of hair pins, a schedule, and my ticket!IMG_6383

I used the Laughing Moon Round Dress #114 Pattern. It is a decent pattern, but I recommend some changes if you use it:

  1. The shoulders are very broad. I had to take mine in at least 2 inches and adjust the armscye. Two friends of mine also used this pattern and had to do the same.
  2. There is a lot of fabric in the front bodice overlay, and I think you can get a more flattering shape if you increase the gathering. The pattern calls for 7 rows of gathering in the center bottom front, but I tripled that. I added extra rows in between the original rows, and additional rows above it so that the fan rises higher.
  3. I saw a few reviews that said the sleeve is a bit wide, and one friend said it is a bit short too. If you like a more tightly fitted sleeve you’ll need to adjust the pattern. (I ended up reusing the sleeve pattern from my chemise dress, with some minor changes, but I still cut the sleeves on the bias).
  4. If you have a 45 inch fabric the pattern recommends cutting 3 panels of that, plus a 13 inch wide panel, and making a final hem circumference of 144 inches. Regardless of the skirt style I like to have 3 panels so I can have pockets in the side seams and one seam in the back for the opening, so I skipped the 13 inch panel. My skirt was narrower, but I wanted a smaller silhouette to navigate the crowded fair with.
  5. The pattern calls for boning in the darts of the lining. I gathered my fan so tightly that the front panel was already pretty stiff, and I made this dress to be machine washable, so I skipped that step.

The skirt is cartridge pleated, and I used gingham ribbon as a stitching guide, rather than tediously marking 2 rows of dots a half inch apart. Fold over the top of your skirt like you normally would when cartridge pleating, then lay the ribbon over the fold. Use the little squares as a guide for your rows of stitching, and the ribbon will be sewn to the skirt. When you are done, the ribbon remains, and also adds extra body to your pleats!IMG_6305

As I mentioned earlier, my coal scuttle bonnet was made by Lynne Taylor. She is a very talented milliner and did a lovely job. The bonnet is wired buckram, covered in sapphire blue taffeta. (It is much brighter than it appears in the pictures). The inside and outside are pleated, and the top of the crown is double piped and padded. There are little bows over the moire ribbon that circles the middle of the crown, and the same moire is used for the ties. IMG_6390IMG_6392

I was delighted with the whole ensemble, and will gladly wear it again to fair next year (and to Costume College as well!)

For my hair I tried to fake the 1840s style. I took a large section of hair on each side of my head and coated it with lots of mousse, then curved it gently forward and then up, and then pinned it to the side of my head. I then did my usual little bun on the back of my head, covered with a big fake braided bun. Since most of my hair is covered by the bonnet all you see are the “droopy puppy ears” and not the messy mass of bobby pins on my head and doesn’t matter if the rest is not appropriate to the decade.IMG_6387

Final cost of the dress, minus accessories:

  • 7.25 yards cotton fabric: $50 + $12.65 shipping (from destash group on Facebook)
  • Bodice lining left over from other project: $0
  • 1 roll gingham ribbon: $2.99 plus tax (from Michael’s)
  • 1 hank nylon parachute cord for piping: $1.79 plus tax (from Michael’s)
  • 1 package skirt hooks and eyes: $3.74 (from Amazon)
  • Pattern: $18 (from Amazon)

Edit (I forgot to add in the pattern!) TOTAL: $89.34

The dress was worn over 4 petticoats (1 ruffled, 1 corded, and 2 flat) that I already owned for other outfits.

I still have 1 yard of the printed fabric left. Normally I would want an evening bodice when I have leftover fabric, but the cotton is not right for that, and the skirt is gauged onto the bodice, so I will have to figure out what to do with it!