Friday, February 28, 2014

Southern Gardens Tea Room

So my my mom recently came out from California to visit and for something to do, her, my sister and I went to a tea room. We opted to go to the Southern Gardens Tea Room in the South Akron area. I'll admit, I didn't know what to expect when we pulled in and there was a sign for sushi flashing in the window.

The Southern Gardens is actually a blend of a tea room and Asian food cuisine restaurant in one. We were seated in the tea room area which has a very nice atmosphere.

We opted for the afternoon luncheon menu (they will do a high tea if you request) and between the three of us enjoyed a chicken salad croissant, potato soup, a walnut salad, scones, and two different types of tea. All of it was excellent, as evidenced by the empty plates we had later.

It was a very good visit and needless to say, I stuffed myself silly on food and tea. I'll probably be heading back in the future for more of both and a bit of fun.

My sister having a bit of fun

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Bodice Challenge Research

So I started out the new challenge with a bit of research on the type of bodice design I would like to make. As mentioned in a previous post, the bodice I currently have is more of a dinner style bodice. To allow for more use and opportunities, I want to make an evening bodice. About two years ago, I made a bodice with small pouf sleeves using the Truly Victorian 1885 Cuirass Bodice (TV460).

I never really finished because the sleeves were very tight and I just wasn't too keen on this bodice going with my Alexandra dress. I've looked through a number of fashions plates and I just can't seem to find anything with this sleeve style. Initially I was thinking of taking this bodice apart and trying to use some supplies from the bodice for a new one. However, after going through my books, I'm thinking I might be able to redo the sleeves, do some add-ons, and make a different bodice with the brown shantung as the base.

For example, I found these ideas in my Bustle Fashions 1885-1887 and Directoire Revival Fashions 1888-1889, both by Frances Grimble.

From Bustle Fashions 1885-1887 by Frances Grimble
From Directoire Revival Fashions 1888-1889 by Frances Grimble
From Directoire Revival Fashions 1888-1889 by Frances Grimble
Right now, I'm liking bodice #2 with the lace and ribbons because it's something that I can work into the existing square neckline and I can make new sleeves that will easily attach to the existing bodice.

Now onto the the actual evening bodice that I wanted to make. This one I was a bit torn on. These are my fabrics (the blue is actually darker) - a chocolate brown shantung silk and a dusty blue taffeta with flocked brown polka dots.

What I couldn't decide on was whether I wanted to make a brown bodice with blue accents, or a blue polka dot bodice with some brown accents. A lot of the fashion plates I was looking through had solid colored bodices, not prints. Then I found this little gem:

From Victorian Fashions and Costumes from Harper's Bazar by Stella Blum
Yay polka dots on an evening bodice! I pulled out my sketchbook and did some rough (I am not an artist) drawings on what I would like to accomplish. 
I've done my measurements, and I think I have enough of the fabric for an evening bodice. The shantung is something they readily carry at the fabric store and I will need to pick up more later this week. If I don't have enough of the blue taffeta, I may look at doing a bodice with some panels of brown on the side, similar to how this one has been done.

From La Mode Illustree by JoAnne Olian
In the meantime, I'm going to start looking at trims to use for the dinner bodice neckline and doing some pattern drafting for a back-closing evening bodice.

Friday, February 7, 2014

HSF - Challenge #3 Pink

Challenge - Pink!

Fabric - Dupioni silk and acetate lining

Pattern - Hand-drafted pattern

Year - The original piece from LACMA is dated about 1800-1825. Mine will probably be used for Victorian events.

Notions - Machine stitched lace with beads and sequins, pre-made cord with tassels attached, and upholstery trim.

Hours to complete - About 18.

First Worn -  No idea when I'll use it. No upcoming events.

Total Cost - $23, all of it was purchased on gift cards though so no out of pocket expenses.

How accurate is it?
Probably about 50/50. I used the original for inspiration, but changed the design and structure around based on what I know about modern sewing construction. There was no information actually available about how the original was sewn/put together, so it was a lot of guesswork. Most of it is machine sewn, the detail work is by hand. Fabric and materials were mostly modern creations including the upholstery trim and acetate lining. Design wise it's very accurate though since it follows the three-panel original.

*          *          *
After completing the mockup, I jumped straight the final reticule cut from my fashion fabrics. After cutting all my pieces out, I sewed everything together. While doing this though, I carefully maneuvered the tassel ends into place and sewed them directly into the corner seams. I had looked at the tassels beforehand, but couldn't figure out how to attach them in place without the threads showing. The ends I went ahead and anchored to the fabric within the seam allowance.

The ends were anchored using just a zigzag stitch
The pre-made lace that I had bought had to be sewn on by hand - there was no other option. Using just a simple overhand stitch method with matching thread, I attached it in place to the exterior of the bag.

Interior showing back of stitching for lace
Part of the reason I drafted my own pattern was I carefully measured out the side pieces to match the LACMA original and the length of each repeated section of the lace. When I stitched it around the entire bag, I managed to make the ends meet perfectly and carefully overlaped them so the join was barely noticeable.

I won't say where, but there's two ends of lace in there somewhere
The lining I wasn't concerned too much about so it's made of just an acetate lining fabric. It was sewn the same way as the exterior bag, however I did leave a small opening in one of the side seams so I could turn everything right side out after sewing both bags together.

Once everything was sewn and turned out, I used the small opening to thread the tasseled chair cord I had bought through the drawstring opening and around the lining. The rose silk extended another half inch to the inside to help hide the lining and give it a more finished look.

To keep the drawstring cord in place and prevent it from coming loose, I added a small running stitch along the seam line.

The final step was to sew the opening closed along the inside using just a simple whipstitch and then voila! all finished.

I'm really happy that I managed to finish this challenge ahead of time since it will allow me to start focusing on the next challenge. Although this was a small project, I'm glad I took it on because of the amount of hand sewing that it required. I can be a very impatient person sometimes so I'm not a fan of handwork. Having such a lovely piece to admire after the outcome makes me appreciate it a little more though.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

New Challenges and Projects

As I wrap up my latest HSF project challenge, I already have to start looking forward to the next few projects. Although I'm only doing half of the challenges, challenge #4 - Under it All, aka any type of underwear/unmentionables, gave me some inspiration. I may not actually complete a piece for the challenge, but I'm going to use it as a jump point to start working on a pair of Regency stays.

Last spring, I made made a pair of half-stays to go under my first Regency dress. I had to do a lot of modification for my lack of cleavage as well as I didn't have a complete understanding of how Regency stays were supposed to fit (I'm used to my corsets). So the end result was a half-stay that worked/didn't work. 

Ignore the quality. Bad cell phone selfie.
The one thing I couldn't get used to when wearing the half-stays was not having my mid-section covered as well by the stay/corset. Naturally I'm not a very svelte individual to begin with, so the silhouette of the Regency dress I wore did not work out as well either.

Again, no time to actually finish a new Regency stay before the March 1 deadline. However I have started to pull together some images of originals on Pinterest for inspiration and I purchased Laughing Moon's Regency and Romantic Era Corset pattern.

Regency Corset via Pinterest
Early 19th Century Stays via Pinterest
Laughing Moon's Regency and Romantic Era Corset pattern
Challenge #5 - Bodice I already have something in mind for. My late bustle Alexandra Polka Dot dress was made a few years ago and it's probably one of my favorites.

The original bodice that I made is for daytime/dinner type of functions. To allow for more functionality, I've always wanted to make an evening bodice to go with the skirts (Also making it more period correct by having more than one bodice). I made an attempt at this about two years ago, but wasn't happy with how it turned out and scrapped it. I still have extra fashion fabrics and the pattern, so it's just a matter of sitting down to redraft some changes, then put everything together. We'll see how it goes!