Wednesday, May 28, 2014

The Making of a Lady review

I recently came across The Making of a Lady while going through the new movie releases at the library. The first thing that caught my immediate attention is it is based off a literary piece of work by Frances Hodgson Burnett, author of the popular books The Secret Garden and A Little Princess. Although the titles differ, the basis for the film is taken from The Making of a Marchioness.
Image from
Aside from James D'Arcy - who plays Captain Alec Osborn, one of the leads - I was unfamiliar with the rest of the cast. Lydia Wilson plays the leading lady, Emily Fox Seton. When we are first introduced to her, she is working as a secretary to Lady Maria, an upperclass woman during the 1890s (sources point to the year being 1901, I beg to differ but that's for later) and ekes by in a ramshackle boarding house when not working. Although she has hopes for a permanent position, she abruptly dismissed soon after a fancy dinner party.

At said dinner party though, she meets her employer's widowed nephew, Lord James Walderhurst, played by Linus Roache. Despite only meeting once, he comes to her soon after with a proposal of marriage, which she accepts with some hesitation.

While this may initially seem like one of those contrived, two strangers who marry for convenience then grow to love one another stories, there's another aspect. Lord Walderhurst leaves soon after and his cousin, Captain Osborn, comes to live at the house with his Indian wife. Slowly but surely, they begin to take control over the household and then Emily's life.
Image from Pinterest
The unfolding romance between Emily and Lord Walderhurst is well-paced, but it is the later interactions with his overbearing cousin and his wife that seem to be rushed. At almost every turn, there are brief mentions of why Emily shouldn't concern herself with Captain Osborn, but the full story of why was never actually revealed (unless I missed something while my head was buried in petticoat pinning).

Emily's actual reactions to how these oddball relations treat her paint her as a very naive woman as well. A bit conflicting since part of the reason Lord Walderhurst married her was he knew she was an educated woman who knew her way about in life.
Image from Pinterest
The acting throughout the film though I found to be superb since each person managed to make their character very believable. There has been some criticism from others about changes from the original work, but have no comment at this time since I haven't read the original.

The Making of a Marchioness is available for free via Amazon kindle download for anyone who is interested.
Image from Pinterest
Now to my favorite - costumes! As mentioned above, they have pinned the movie at taking place around 1901 (the same year the book was published). However all the costumes point to it being around 1889 through the mid 1890s. Emily wears a few directoire revival fashions, and her wedding dress has the famous hourglass shape of the 1890s with the large leg-o-mutton sleeves and flared skirt. These costumes are also great because they provide a good example of what someone from the upper middle class would have worn - nothing is too extravagant, it's simple but detailed. For being only an hour and a half, there are a number of wardrobe changes throughout so there's great opportunity for finding costume inspiration from this period.

Overall review - 4 out of 5
Costumes - 5 out of 5

Mother's Day Reticle

Yay I finally get to post this! A few weeks ago I started on a small project for Mother's Day. I had to wait to post so it would actually be a surprise.

My awesome mumsy is the one who first taught me to sew many moons (and years) ago and she's a a big sponsor when it comes to adding to the costume supplies. Although she does not do costume events like I do, I figured I still needed to sew something up as a thank you for everything she's done for me.

This isn't really inspired by any particular period, just stuff I pulled together. No progress pics, but I still had to show off the final piece.

Thanks for everything mom!

Monday, May 26, 2014

HSF - Challenge #9 Black & White

Challenge - Black & White

Fabric - Poly/cotton broadcloth blend

Pattern - Truly Victorian Petticoats pattern (TV170)

Year - Natural Form period, about 1876-1882

Notions - Hooks and eyes for the waistband

Hours to complete - 14

First Worn - For waistband measurements. Will be wearing soon as I work on construction a Natural Form dress

Total Cost - $0, all materials were already in my stash and the pattern is one of my basics that I use frequently.

How historically accurate is it?
The pattern I use matches the silhouette needs of the Natural Form period with a slim front and some fullness towards the back. Everything is machine sewn however, so I don't know how accurate that would be in comparison to an original from that same time.

Yargh, I've really been slacking for my May posts. On the plus side though, I finished an item off the aforementioned project list. Double bonus, it works for one of the challenges! It's a few days late, but given my recent history with project issues, I'm not going to worry too much about being a little behind (still working on challenge #5 and #7).

The Natural Form period is one of the few areas of the Victorian Era that I don't have a dress from so I decided to make one up. Like many projects though, you have to start at the basics. In this case it was by making a petticoat. All the ones I currently have are fitted to go over hoop cages or bustles so there's a lot of extra material in them. The point of the Natural Form period is that things are very natural meaning there's very little modification to the silhouette outside of the corset.

Examples of Natural Form dress - Image via Pinterest
I dug out from my trusty TV170 pattern, which I use for most of my petticoats since it's a very universal, and managed to find the right amount of fabric in my stash then got to work.

It took a couple of nights to get everything pinned together and sewn because I like to pin and set my own ruffles rather than try to use a running stitch. The process can be very tedious at times, but the result is certainly worth it in my opinion because the ruffles are usually evenly balanced the entire length of the seam.

Hand pinned ruffles along lower tier

When going through the sewing machine, I just guide the fold in the direction I choose or press them flat.

Although Natural Form is known for some of the long, trained skirts with oodles of frills (see the above fashion plate for example), I opted to go with an untrained petticoat from the standpoint that it would be able to go under other costumes. Instead, for the trained skirts, I'll use a detachable balayeuse or dust ruffle. But that's another project for another time.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Attacking the UFOs

The last time I had posted, I discussed the start of an overskirt for a ball gown that I have in the closet but have just never gotten around to finishing. I was all ready to get started on it, and then this funny little thing called life happened.

I had more setbacks with my long overdue bonnet project. Mother's Day popped up and I found myself wanting to make things for my awesome mumsy. I had project materials finally come in so I could finally finish a few things. Best of all, I get to go to my best friend's wedding in October! Her wedding theme is Alice in Wonderland, so I've been starting to put together costume ideas in my brain that could work and have been spending a lot of time looking at pictures from the recent Tim Burton film version.

Any who, that's another post for another day.

With all the UFOs (Un-Finished Projects) laying around, I decided to put aside my Black and White Challenge and make a list of the UFOs that needs to be tackled. 
  • Wedding samplers for friends
  • Regency Ophelia bonnet
  • Late bustle evening bodice
  • Black skirt from Vogue
  • Petticoat to go under a Natural Form (1877-1882) period dress
  • Calico Garibaldi blouse
Mind you, these are just the projects that are sitting out immediately in my living room. I'm sure there's more buried in my room.

Today was a good start to tackling this list. I finished my long overdue cross stitch piece, at least one of them.
Now to head off to the framer!

The petticoat should be fairly easy. I pulled out my favorite petticoat pattern from Truly Victorian (TV170) which covers almost the entire Victorian Era. With the exception of the bottom hem piece and the waistband, everything has been put together.
I'll be off in a couple more days so I should be able to get the last row ruffled and hemmed, and the waistband added.