Wednesday, February 20, 2013

1880s Bashlik

Victorian Bashlik (hooded scarf) from Fashions of the Gilded Age, black wool coating, machine and hand-embroidered, and hand-beaded. Because who doesn't need Victorian outerwear? I fell in love with a few of these at the Met, but this is as far down the embroidery and beadwork rabbit hole as I was willing to go at the moment.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Cotton Anglaise is in the final stages!

Much thanks again to Cassidy for her excellent help fitting the caraco pattern and lacing me into my new stays so we could do the final tweaks for the cotton Anglaise and letting me love on her dog.

I didn't accomplish quite as much as I'd hoped today, but the socializing more than made up for it. And the puppy. Did I mention there was a puppy??

It's SO POOFY. Plus this is the new petticoat I made last night. I think I might round that corner a bit though just for aesthetics. And then I can rightly call it polonaise, right?

After this picture, I knocked down the neckline at the center back by about half an inch.

I did mention the puppy, right??? And that tan stuff sticking out of the neckline is the unfinished binding on my stays, so don't judge.

We had some great conversations too, but the biggest one that sticks in my mind is the one about what garment "caraco" actually denotes and whether Janet Arnold was *gasp* wrong. So expect some discussion on that on either her blog or mine but someone needs to write about it because it was super interesting and Cassidy is insanely smart about this fashion history thing, and here I am going "I sew stuff." But between the two of us, we determined we should be ruling the world. 

Everyone would be better dressed.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

How is Saturday over already?

So I made a petticoat today. It's plain red cotton and it's boring. But it means my new Williamsburg cotton can be my caraco, so I'm okay with it for the moment, and I can always get more of the printed cotton when we're down there in April to make a matching petticoat for the Anglaise. I ordered linen gauze from to make some sleeve ruffles, a new shift and a fichu, so that should cover all my accessories.

Once again no pictures, but I promise to make up for it tomorrow. The lovely Cassidy of A Most Beguiling Accomplishment has graciously allowed me to come over and sew and we're going to lace me into my new stays, finish fitting the caraco pattern, mark the front closure of the cotton Anglaise, and generally make merry in the most tame and stereotypically feminine way possible. I am going to seriously try to remember to make her take some pictures of all my fancy new clothes. Note to self: pack shift and wear some makeup.

So, as of right now, my to-do list for the next 3 weeks is:

-Finish hand work on stays (eyelets on shoulder straps, binding)
-Finish hand work on gown (reset skirt front to hide yoke of quilted petticoat, finish bottom of bodice, put bones in center front and back, put hooks and eyes on front)
-Finish hand work on red petticoat (waistband and ties)
-Fit caraco pattern
-Make caraco (waiting for fabric)
-Make stomacher for caraco (waiting for fabric)
-Make sleeve ruffles (waiting for fabric)
-Make fichu (waiting for fabric)
-Find small fly fringe-type trim to cover the machine stitching on petticoat ruffle
-Pattern and make a red cloak

I think I can do it. Next weekend is going to be crazy busy, with a friend's birthday, a historical fashion show, and the Empire State Costumers' Guild February meeting, which is going to be a costumed tea party in Latham, NY. (If you're nearby and you're interested, please join us!) but the weekend after I'm totally uncommitted, so if I can get a lot of the fiddly hand stuff done tomorrow, I'll be in good shape.

A teaser:

This is how I pattern, y'all. Because I'm always paranoid that I'll screw up the scaling, and with much thanks to this tutorial from Ralph Pink.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

1903 Swan Corset

Still slogging along on the Truly Victorian 1903 corset of utter girliness. I finally got it to a stage where I could try it on, so that happened. 

This is seriously going to be the girliest thing I've ever made. You can't see it in these pictures but I discovered the decorative stitches on the Singer that I never use ever, and every seam now has a line of pink swans on it. I have pink silk ribbon for binding, and insertion lace with a narrower pink silk ribbon woven through it for trim at the top. I am about as far from a pink person as anyone you can imagine, but I feel like if you're going to go Edwardian, you might as well go whole hog. The plan for the eventual dress to go over this is a super lacy lingerie dress, but that may not happen for years. But it's a start!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Photo post!

First, the obligatory post for the Historical Sew Fortnightly Challenge

The Challenge: #3 Under It All

Fabric: Pre-quilted silk dupioni, muslin

Pattern: None, but thanks to Koshka the Cat's helpful tutorial on leveling a petticoat and Demode Couture's referral to Patterns of Fashion for the yoke!

Year: 18th century

Notions: Cotton twill tape for ties

How historically accurate is it? Machine quilted, with polyester batting and the backing is probably also poly, plus the yoke should be the same silk but I was SO not about to unpick enough of it to use for that. 

Hours to complete: 5-6 (I started it this afternoon but was working on other things in between)

First worn: Will be worn to Empire State Costumers costumed tea 2/24, possibly with a caraco if I get really motivated

Total cost: $25

Next, what I spent the rest of my weekend doing:

The fabric is a cotton print my parents brought me from Colonial Williamsburg. Please forgive the weird positioning of the arms, the dress form's shoulders are much too wide for the dress. But another couple hours  of hand work and it'll be totally done.

Not bad for a weekend's work.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Printed Cotton Robe a l'Anglaise

I mostly finished the Anglaise today, but discovered that with pocket hoops under it, it's too wide to successfully photograph in a mirror. Since no one was around to help me photograph, and the shoulders of my 18th century stuff don't fit my dress form, photographs will have to wait.

Things I learned today:

When you take the ease out of a sleeve head, add length back into the bottom. My nice cupped-elbow sleeves definitely hit right above the elbow. Fortunately sleeve ruffles will hide a lot of that.

Flat lining is SO MUCH FASTER AND EASIER than bag lining. Flat lining is where you treat your lining and your outer fabric like one piece when you sew the seams, instead of sewing the seams in the outer fabric, then sewing the seams in the lining, then sewing them together. Even with the extra basting, it was much faster than the last time I made this pattern.

Waist ties on petticoats are irresistible to Siamese cats that think the inside of your new foofy skirt is a good place to hide. While you're wearing it. That was awkward.

Shorten the waist on the back of the pattern next time. The front waist is perfect for 1780, just above natural, but the back is just a touch too long and bunches up weird at my lower back. A bone should fix that though.

When you make the same pattern twice, and both times you think "gosh this neckline is too low," for the love of all that is holy, the next time you make the pattern, RAISE THE NECKLINE. I cut it again then remembered that, and then it was too late. I think I'm going to print this post and stick it in the bag with the pattern.

Pay attention to the print of your fabric when cutting your front pieces. It looks a little weird because I was trying to save fabric to have enough to make a petticoat, and the motifs totally don't line up. I sort of think that's the kind of thing no one cares about but me, though.

When stitching en forreau back pleats, a spaced stab stitch is faster and distorts the fabric less than a longer running stitch or back stitch.. I did the whole back in one episode of Arrow (yes, I time my hand sewing by TV shows).

So tomorrow, I need to put ties in the skirt to draw it up, face the neckline, and put closures on the center front, tack up a hem and I'm DONE. I'm going to hold off on trim until I get a petticoat made and the stays finished for the Historical Sew Fortnightly, because honestly, if I never get to the trim, it's still a pretty dress. It's looking more and more like Other Half is going to attend the Francaise dinner as well, and if this is indeed the case, I'm going to have to produce passable 18th century menswear in the space of 2 weeks. Thus, my goal is to have ALL of my stuff done this weekend. just in case.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Printed Cotton Robe a l'Anglaise

Been pretty productive tonight. Got my new Robe a l'Anglaise for the Francaise Dinner (yes, I see the irony) cut out of the cotton my parents sent me from Colonial Williamsburg and figured out that I have enough fabric to either A: make a seriously Frankensteined matching petticoat (anywhere hidden by the gown would be a different fabric) or do some self-fabric ruched trim (which is what I planned to do with my extra if I absolutely could not make a petticoat). So decision time.

I also got all the linings cut out. I'm well on track to making this the cheapest historical costume EVER, given that I cut the linings out of an old cotton sheet. So far literally the only things I've bought have been the 2 yards of quilted silk I found on Etsy for $8 a yard and my $20 of hair extensions to be able to build a pouf.

I'm modeling this creature after the one in Patterns of Fashion from The Gallery of English Costume, 1770-1780, with the skirts drawn up, a center-front close and the nice cupped-elbow sleeve, mostly because that's what I already fitted my much-abused JP Ryan pattern into.

So no pictures tonight because there's nothing to show yet, but with any luck pictures will be able to happen tomorrow.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013


After 5 long years, my thesis is FINALLY finished! Well, mostly. I have some small edits to make tomorrow. But I won't think about that today. It goes before the committee on Monday and then DOBBY IS FREE!!!

Here's the final result:

I've been up to my eyeballs in 18th century working dress for the last 2 months, and now that it's done, all I want to make are pretty frilly utterly useless things. So I've hauled back out a lot of old projects and I'm knocking them out one at a time. You'll see those as they happen - I would love to remember to update here more often. We'll see how that goes, I suppose. But I am going to SEW!

1776 Stays, Take 2

Tonight I hauled out the stays I made for Halloween to re-cover them for the Historical Sew Fortnightly challenge. I was just going to use a pink poly brocade from my stash but I realized that A: I adore the fit and cut of these, and B: I plan to avoid making another set until I absolutely have to because 2 sets is entirely enough for the moment. So I hauled out the $65 a yard silk brocade that I bought at Delectable Mountain when I was interning at Augusta Auctions and had Rococo on the brain, and covered them in that. It's pretty darn gorgeous. I got the pieces all covered and re-assembled and the machine sewing part of the binding done. In the process I discovered that my plastic whalebone had kinked at the side seams and center bust so I replaced it with spiral steel in those spots. Still need to bone the tabs, cut the tabs into the silk, and finish all the hand work on the binding. But yay stays! 1776 corset 1776 stays