Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Copper and Ripper Street Reviews

There's been a whole lot of other things going on, and unfortunately not much sewing. In case it hasn't been mentioned yet, I also do cross stitch and I've been working on a couple of projects instead. I have been watching a few of my costume dramas though.

I watched the first season of Copper when it first came out on DVD earlier this year. Now that the second season has started up, I've been doing a bit of catch up (I don't have cable, so I watch them when I can online). Copper airs on BBC America and is the first scripted show made exclusively for the channel.

Image Courtesy of IMDB
The show centers around the Five Points area of New York starting in 1864 and focuses mostly on Kevin "Corky" Corcoran, an Irish immigrant who works as a police detective. Other characters that come into play are the men on his police force, some of the...ahem "ladies of pleasure" the men see frequently, and a few benefactors and other side characters.

While there eventually is an overarching plot that comes to light, it comes across as just another crime show for me, just in a historical setting. There are a few costumes that pop up on some of the female characters, but they are very far and few in between. Right now, the story has me intrigued enough to keep watching as the episodes come out, but not enough that I eagerly anticipate each new one.

Show - 3.5 out of 5
Costumes - 3 out of 5

When I first heard about this show, it had already aired so I had to wait for it on DVD, then wait for it to come in at the library. As a result, I was only able to watch it just last week.

Image Courtesy of IMDB
Matthew Macfadyen of Pride and Prejudice stars one of the key characters, Edmund Reid, an investigator looking into a variety of killings and other cases following the final Jack the Ripper murder in 1889. Despite the title, there is little mention of the Ripper cases themselves, aside from a couple of murders that resemble the original Ripper murders. Instead, the cases that Reid investigates are in and around the areas of the murders in the East End of London.

There are some great costumes though that pop up throughout the series. One in particular, worn by Amanda Hale, I'm absolutely in love with (hm, new dress possibilities?).

Best image of the dress
Show - 3 out of 5
Costumes - 4 out of 5

In watching the two shows though, the one thing I've come to find is that they are so similar, it's almost as if I'm watching the same thing. The location, time, and characters are different, but overall concept of the character types and how they relate to each other are just too similar. Although it was not intended this way, just check out the above photos.

I'll probably keep watching both shows to see if they get any better (Ripper Street was left on a bit of a cliff hanger). Thankfully there's enough of a gap between the two shows airing that I can separate out the differences.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Shopping Finds

I've been finding all sorts of fun costume goodies lately and I just had to share.

The first find is something I've had for a little while now, but I just had to show them off. In anticipation of my new Victorian style Tavistock shoes coming from American Duchess toward the end of the month (hoping and praying they also fit), I purchased some button hooks off of ebay. And for such a great deal too! Three Bakelite hooks for $12, and then when they were shipped I found a fourth in the package as well! Hopefully these will work for my shoes, if not, they'll be great for my teaching collection.

My next shopping find also came off of ebay. While perusing for some trim for my next set of underfrillies, I found some lovely lace. After stalk bidding until the final second, I won much to my excitement. Not only is the lace beautiful, but there's a ton of it! A whopping 7 yards of the Greek key/floral pattern and 3.5 yards of the grape leaf pattern and for only $25 altogether. My original plan had been for underthings, but it's too pretty to hide so the lace has been relegated to the Future Project stash for now.

Greek key/floral lace
Grape leaf lace
And last but not least. Thanks to a tip-off from Jen Thompson at Festive Attyre about some Regency look alike shoes from Rocket Dog, I went in search of my own pair. I found a pair of the Water Chamay Silk shoes at my local DSW for a little bit more ($40), but when you need a size 11 shoe, you can't argue. I sometimes have issues with the fit of ballet style flats, but these fit well and are very comfy. I haven't delved too far, but I'm going to see about attaching laces to the inside, similar to the Highbury Regency shoes also from American Duchess (which I also have on order but there's been a delay).

Next week is payday so I'm looking forward to getting some cotton lawn fabric and getting started on my Edwardian and 1910s undergarments.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Weekend Wrap-up

I've been working so I'm just now getting a chance to post this.

I was able to sit down this weekend and crank out a bunch of sewing, resulting in these lovely new frillies.

Underthings 1850s-1880s
The chemise is made using the Truly Victorian 102 pattern, as originally planned. During one of my ventures to the fabric store, I poked through pattern books and ended up coming home with one of the Simplicity Martha McCain historical patterns (9769). 

I used this instead for the drawers and am very happy with the results. Rather than worrying about redrafting a pattern, I sewed this one and it was an absolute breeze. Not only was the pattern easier to put together, but it fits more smoothly than my original drawers from the TV pattern.

Also in my fabric store wanderings, I found a lovely eyelet trim that worked perfectly for the edge of everything.  

I also managed to finish out my corset with all the extra lace and trims and it's gorgeous!

So now that I'm finished with my foundation pieces for under my 1850s-1880s dresses, I'll see about jumping on the 1910's slip next.

I did start one other project and I'll leave you with this little hint - Kate Winslet wore the original in Sense and Sensibility.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Underthings - Go Big or Go Home

I originally started out a few weeks ago with a plan to finish my corset. A month later now, and it's evolved into something else entirely.

Upon pulling out my chemise and drawers to make sure everything was looking good together, I had a little voice inside my go, "Now would be a good time to tackle your to-do list." Part of that to-do list since last fall has been to make a new set of underthings for all my clothes.

My original set that I've been using for forever are part of what I refer to as that "Before I Knew Better" point of sewing. Meaning before I knew about sizing patterns to better fit me, before I knew what I lifesaver an overlock stitch can be, and before I knew about the differences between fabrics. Mind you, these are only a few of the newbie errors I made when starting out. 

So now I have some very worn looking underthings and it's more a result of bad sewing and multiple trips through the washer.

Original foundation garments used

Really bad insertion lace, but only stuff I could find at time
The original plan was to pull out my trusty Truly Victorian 102 Chemise and Drawers pattern and quickly make them up. Then I remembered some of the things I had made a note to change. Then I began looking through my Pinterest board collection of underthings for inspiration and to see what some of the originals looked like. Then I realized the difference between some of the periods of dress which enabled them to go under different outfits better. Then I realized that I have outfits spanning 1850 all the way to the 1910s, and a chemise in 1850 does not fit under clothes from 1910 the same way (trust me, I tried).

1860s Chemise
1910s Chemise

Meet my new project - outfit the closet with the appropriate underthings for my various costumes. Currently I have on order an Edwardian Underwear pattern and an updated Natural Form petticoat pattern, both from Truly Victorian, and I've dug out some patterns from my stash that have also been part of this to-do pile.

TVE02 Pattern
Ageless Patterns #1368

Right now I have the chemise mostly done and I plan on starting on the 1850s-1880ish drawers this weekend while I'm off. I also have this crazy idea of trying to get everything to match somewhat, so I've gone to the local fabric store and bought a few yards of new insertion lace and some lovely blue ribbon that matches the corset perfectly. We'll see how it goes.

Happy sewing everyone!

Monday, July 8, 2013

Age of Innocence and Royal Affair reviews

As I've been steadily working on my corset and a few other small projects (more on that later), I've been catching up on some of my period costume movies.

A Royal Affair
This is a foreign film with Dutch subtitles, so sewing while watching took a bit longer than usual. It takes place in the later half of the 18th Century, so I admit that we're taking a small step outside the Victorian era. The focus of the story is on Caroline Matilda of Great Britain, who married into Dutch Royalty, and her extramarital affair with her husband's physician.

Not only was it a great film, but the costumes are definitely drool inducing. Not that I delved much into 18th Century costume, but I got to see some of the costumes in person in February when I visited the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising's annual exhibit of film costumes. What I liked best about these costumes is that while they are still elaborate, there's a certain degree of simplicity to them and they better match their actual historical counterparts.

So for those interested in 18th Century costumes, a good historical film, or both, I definitely recommend this film.

Film - 4.5 out of 5
Costumes - 4 out of 5

The Age of Innocence
Based on Edith's Wharton's novel of the same name, this adaption stars Daniel Day-Lewis, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Winona Ryder in the main roles with Martin Scorsese directing. Although the film is not the most fast paced, the costumes make it worth the watch.

Image via Pinterest
The story is set during the late 1870s, during the Natural Form period of Victorian dress when the bustle had momentarily died away and mermaid tail dresses were all the rage. Frankly, I don't think we see enough dresses from this brief period (about 1876-1881), so it was wonderful to see these costumes.

Don't know if I'll be watching the movie again anytime soon, but I've already pulled multiple images of the costumes for some dress inspiration.

Film - 3 out of 5
Costumes - 5 out of 5