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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

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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!

1660s Cavalier Gown

I’m still recovering from eye surgery so this post will be brief. I’ll post more pictures and construction details when I get back from Costume College.

Here is a quick look at the bodice! I can’t see well enough to make a lot of tiny hand-sewn eyelets in the back, so someone will have to sew me into my dress before the Gala. IMG_2904

I already packed my petticoats and bum roll so I don’t have a mounted picture of the skirt.  I cartridge-pleated it, left the front part that goes under the center bodice tab flat, and hid closures in the pleats. (I have side openings for pocket access).IMG_2911

My hair in its hat box looks like braaaains!IMG_2903.JPG

See you at Costume College!

1660s Cavalier Dress

The Costume College theme this year is “60s” and the Gala theme is “Dinner at Tiffany’s” so I am making a black 1660s dress with large pearls, inspired by this portrait of Grand Duke Ferdinand II of Tuscany and his wife Vittoria Della Rovere by Justus Sustermans at the National Gallery in London.1660s-probably-grand-duke-2

This is a stash-busting project!

A while back I got 10 yards of 36″ black silk taffeta for $5/yard. With this project my goal was to stay as close to $50 as possible, which meant the other materials had to not only be stash, but what I call “legit stash” (leftovers from other projects). As much as we like to pretend it doesn’t count if you buy it and hide it in the closet for a few years, it still cost money up front. Aside from the black silk I wanted to use things that were already accounted for in the costs of other projects. Luckily I had scraps for lining, reed from my stays, and other miscellaneous materials:

This means not all of the materials are ideal. However, my rallying cry is STASH-BUSTING! Stash-busting

I used silk taffeta for the interlining that encases the boning because I didn’t want my bodice to be too thick, since I will have to add more layers afterward (a fashion fabric that has to be flat-lined to prevent the boning from showing).

Please keep in mind that silk can be rather insulating and warm! I used silk interlining anyway because:

  • STASH-BUSTING!
  • I’m going to be wearing this in the evening and indoors, in an air-conditioned hotel.
  • I feel cold all the time. I promise I’m not a vampire.

I am using the Nehelenia 1660 Baroque dress pattern.IMG_2598.JPG

Please note, this pattern is not for beginners. No boning channels are marked, and you have to figure them out by yourself. I recommend having made stays before you tackle this project, because the bodice is essentially stays with fashion fabric on top.

The pattern calls for about 2.5 meters of fabric for the skirt, which is 98 inches. That is not particularly full. I looked at some other bloggers’ recommendations and Kendra of Demode and the Dreamstress both recommend about 150 inches for a modern frame, even though a smaller circumference was historically accurate. I ended up using 4 panels of 36″ fabric.

Here are some quick progress shots of the inside and outside of the bodice. (The sleeves are still a mess and I have to add eyelet closures down the back and some silk gauze to the neckline).IMG_2601IMG_2603

I have cartridge-pleated about 3/4 of the skirt. My trick to save time marking and measuring is to sewing gingham to the inside and keep it there as a way to make the pleats fuller.IMG_2605IMG_2606

For a “simple” black dress this is proving to be a lot of work (much of it hidden). There is. boning, binding of tabs, cartridge-pleating of the skirt and sleeves, etc. I am having surgery later today so I will have to take a bit of break from sewing and the computer. I hope I can still finish before Costume College!

Regency/Napoleonic Court Train (Part 2) 98% Done!

My Regency/Napoleonic court train is nearly done! (I am just missing a proper brooch closure for the front; right now the straps are pinned into place).IMG_2285

I apologize for the weird lighting. I recently changed some of the lighting in my house to LED bulbs, which is great for my energy bill but not for the color of my pictures.

Don’t you just loooove the way silk velvet drapes?IMG_2276

Here is a shot with my court dress previously described here.IMG_2301

A reminder of what the gown alone looks like:b

I hope to get proper photos of the whole ensemble at Costume College.IMG_2307

Here is another mmm silk photo since I love the back so much.IMG_2278

I used Butterick B4890 to get the teardrop shape, but did not use the bodice portion of the pattern. I opted for the shoulder and underbust straps I saw in extant examples of court trains. I also decided to have a more “modest” length train since I will be using this at Costume College and it will be easier to navigate the crowds.

I can’t wait to wear this!IMG_2297

I still have to make a matching regency diadem and I have a pearl jewelry set on the way. Once that’s taken care of I can finally start on my gala gown!

 

(I will do my usual final tally of project costs once the whole ensemble is actually complete, but it is nearly there).

Regency/Napoleonic Court Train (Part 1)

The blog has been a little quiet lately since my last post on Regency diadems because I’ve been having some issues with my wrists and haven’t done much sewing except for things I can make completely by machine, like curtains. However, I have received all my materials for my court train, to go with my beaded court dress.

I have 6 yards of silk velvet, which depending on the light and the direction of the nap appears either a deep rose color or a silvery-pink. (I tried getting swatches of cotton velvet, but they were the wrong texture and stiffness and were obviously meant for upholstery). I didn’t realize before starting my search how hard it is to find a nice rose-colored velvet that isn’t either baby pink or hot pink! I would have been happy with a synthetic velvet if it was the right color, but ended up having to go over budget and buy silk. Of all the places I looked, you’ll never guess that the final winner was Amazon!IMG_1454

After a few tries at swatches of lining I settled on a linen-cotton blend from Renaissance Fabrics. The dusty pink color is good match to the underside of the silk velvet, and lighter than the deep rose but close to the silvery-pink. (Left to right: underside of the silk, the velvet, and the lining).IMG_1452

The lace I ordered online was a brighter gold than the stock photo (and what I was able to photograph below), but still rather pretty. However, I think bronze would be a better match to my dress, so I’m going to have to tone down the lace. I have a friend who has sponge-painted acrylic craft paint onto lace before, so I will be doing some experiments! I hope it works; after the purchase of the silk velvet I’d rather not spend any more money on this project buying new lace and crossing my fingers that it is the right color!IMG_1455

Mmm so buttery soft!IMG_1451

1920s Egyptian Revival and Poiret Cocoon Coat (Part 3) at the Rosicrucian Museum

Yesterday I wore my 1920s Egyptian Revival dress and my Poiret cocoon coat at the GBACG Egyptian Expedition at the Rosicrucian Museum in San Jose, CA.IMG_7051

You can read about the finished dress in my previous posts, but to summarize, both the dress and coat are made of silk velvet. I used the Decades of Style Zig-Zag dress pattern and the Folkwear Poiret coat pattern.IMG_6943IMG_6944

I am wearing a vintage fox fur collar and footwear from Royal Vintage Shoes. I felt so glamorous in this coat!IMG_6946

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I found a place in the museum that had interesting lighting and gave things a slightly eerie glow.IMG_6981

You can see the double-layered silk chiffon sleeves in this photo.IMG_6980

I am wearing golden bee pins in my hair.IMG_6987

Outdoors in the sun the colors of the coat are more obvious.IMG_7017

Here’s a shot of those gorgeous shoes (I got so many people asking where I got them!) with my matching purse. My vintage-style stockings started to pool and slip just like the real ones.IMG_7021

I came in under budget for the dress, so I splurged a little on the coat materials.

  • 5 yards of silk velvet burnout: $82.50 plus tax (from Fabric Depot in El Sobrante; I still have leftovers)
  • 4 yards heavy blue satin: $12.77 plus tax (from Joann’s at 50% off, with an additional coupon!)
  • Folkwear pattern: $19.95 plus $2.75 shipping (from eBay)
  • Tassle: free! (The place where I bought the velvet threw that in for free)
  • Button, thread: from the stash

Total: $119.12

You can see more photos of our museum adventures on Flickr. My friend Kim also has a very nice photo album here.