Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Victoria's Daughters review

Because most of my projects right now consist of Christmas gifts for the upcoming holidays, I really can't put up anything right in relation to said projects (Spoilers!). Instead I'm going to try and spend the month of November catching up on my backlog of reviews. We're starting with a book.

Queen Victoria's Daughters by Jerrold M. Packard was plucked from a used bookstore maybe 2-3 years ago and I finally read it over the summer. As the title states, the core material covers Queen Victoria's five daughters; Vicky (Victoria), Alice, Helena, Louise, and Beatrice. From the formative years of their parents' relatioship, to the final days of Princess Beatrice during WWII, the book touches upon each of the Queen's daughters and the unique lives each of them lived.
As the daughters of a monarch who ruled over a quarter of the earth's population during her reign, the princesses' lives were closely watched - and ruled - by not only their parents but by their subjects as well. Each had their own personality, passions and faults, that helped define who they were as adults. Along with their lives, their statuses as British princesses had a huge impact among the ruling houses of Europe as marriages were made, alliances were formed then broken, and wars later waged.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Halloween Witch Skirt

October was a busy month! I've been putting in some overtime for work and then I was away on business for a couple days as well. While there hasn't been much going on in the realm of sewing, I still got a couple of projects done.

This one was a black skirt that I made for work to wear during October. Our dress code rules state that we have to wear black, but there wasn't anything about NOT dressing up for Halloween on Saturday (Plus they did trick or treating at the mall on Wednesday night).

I found a great Halloween fabric at the store on super sale (70% by the time I threw all my coupons together), a crisp poly taffeta with velvet spider web flocking all over it. I'll readily admit, the first time I saw it, I thought, "That would make a great skirt!"

Friday, October 16, 2015

Crimson Peak review

Kerry and I went to an early Thursday night showing of Guillermo del Toro's new movie, Crimson Peak. Ever since some of the first production stills came out in late spring 2014ish, I've been looking forward to this movie. I wasn't sure about the whole horror aspect with creepy shadow things, blood everywhere, and the sinister house only because I'm not big on that movie genre. BUT IT TOOK PLACE DURING THE VICTORIAN PERIOD! Instantly sold.
Crimson Peak 2015
Mia Wasikowska (Jane Eyre 2011) stars as the main lead, Edith Cushing, a young woman who finds herself drawn towards a young baronet visiting America from England. He seems great, but there's that lurking air of mystery that there's more to Thomas Sharpe's story than what he's revealing. After her father's mysterious death though, Edith finds herself heading off to Allerdale Hall with Thomas. Let's be honest though, where Tom Hiddleston is concerned, it's easy to completely lose our minds and follow him anywhere without any second thoughts.
We've only just met, but can I put MY hands around you?
Yes, Tom Hiddleston (swoon) of Avengers fame is in this film.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Summer 2015 Costume Finds

Well, summer has finally closed out here. As I compose this post, it's steadily raining outside and I'm swathed in sweaters already despite the fact that it's only in the mid-40s.

I've found a lot of stuff this summer, but it's mostly patterns and books. No fabric since I'm supposed to be cleaning out the stash bin-ahem. I did get my scarves for my Regency shawl and I bought a small amount of cotton lawn yardage for some undergarments I'm doing.

The first little bit comes from my friend Audrey. She was cleaning out her costume stash and while I don't exactly fit into her costumes, she had a bunch of patterns and I grabbed a small handful. All of these are out of print (still available on etsy or ebay) and do not match my sizing, but it's great to have on hand because I can scale up or do pattern mashups.
  • Butterick 3640 - 1750s-1760s(?) dresses and polonaises
  • Butterick 3012 - Natural Form Victorian evening dresses
  • Simplicity 5726 - Civil War/Crinoline period undergarments
  • Simplicity 4510 - Civil War/Crinoline period day dress
  • Simplicity 3627 - Marie Antoinette court style dress
  • Simplicity 9761 - Civil War/Crinoline period day dress

I also nabbed a little bit of sewing supplies, fabric scraps, and a feather fan for the accessory bin.
Other patterns that I purchased throughout the summer include:
  • Butterick B5748 - Retro 1960 dress
  • Butterick B5603 - Retro 1956 dress
  • Butterick B6108 - Retro 1912 suited outfits
  • Simplicity 4900 - Early Crinoline period dresses/Cold Mountain (out of print)
  • Simplicity 7215 - Civil War/Crinoline period corsets (out of print)
Yeah, needless to say I've been pattern bingeing.

I went to my favorite discount book store as well and picked up a couple of additions. The Fashion: A History from the 18th to the 20th Century I'm rather excited about. Although I do have the condensed version, this is a paperback version of the 2-volume set that I managed to snag for $8! Yes, a lot of the pictures are the same, but there's so many that my condensed version doesn't have. I have already used it several times for my Regency drop front dress project.
I've seen the hardback version of this same set and if you're a little put off by the price, get the paperback version. It's the same thing at a cheaper price and the books are a little smaller too, making storage easier.

And then another Victorian lifestyle reference book. I loved Judith Flanders' Inside the Victorian Home, so I'm rather excited for when I'll be able to sit down and start going through The Victorian City. This was another steal for only $7, and yes, I do love books by the way.
The Victorian City by Judith Flanders
More additions were several Tom Tierney paper doll books. These are great for costume  reference materials because most of the dresses are taken from actual fashion plates, both black and white or color ones. Most are easy to snag in a used copy format on Amazon.
  • American Family of 1900-1920
  • Great Fashion Designs of the Belle Epoque
  • Early Victorian Costumes
  • Worth Fashion Review
Then I also got a couple of little goodies at the Hale Farm Reenactment.
Hair pins and earrings
And let's not forget my tiara of course!
The best part was the addition to my costume porn movie collection. While I do love Daniel Deronda, I'm a particular fan of the George Eliot movies in general. I found the BBC movie collection together for a steal on ebay and snapped it up.
  • The Mill on the Floss (1978)
  • Middlemarch (1994)
  • Adam Bede (1991)
  • Silas Marner (1985)
  • Daniel Deronda (2002)

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Regency Shawl Hack Project

So I finished a project that was probably my quickest project to date. Two hours total!

Since my Regency dress is coming along so well, I'm now going on a Regency project binge. On the list of things I'm starting to brainstorm and put together to go with the dress are:
  • a shawl
  • chemisette
  • bonnet
  • petticoat
  • stays (on-going WIP)
The shawl came first because I remembered a shawl hack that Jen from Festive Attyre had put together a while ago. Following her tutorial, I first started on ebay and selected a dark navy shawl that would go well with the red and matched a bonnet I started eons ago. Per the instructions, I purchased two of the shawls. I couldn't find the actual fiber content but at $7 a piece, I'm guessing it's a synthetic blend of some type.
These were just basic pashmina scarves and nothing too fancy. True Regency scarves, from what I can tell, are the same color on both sides of the shawl, excluding the paisley design areas. These are navy blue on one side, gold and red on the reverse due to the weave pattern of the threads.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

The Regency Dress that Almost Wasn't

My latest project, the drop front Regency dress, is going along at a remarkable pace. At this point, I'm just doing finishing touches like binding the seam allowance in the arms, placing buttons, and hemming the bottom. I love the fabric choice and the style I opted for, but first I have to tell you about how this dress almost didn't come to be.

Back in 2014, I found my fabric and knew it would make a great Regency dress. I grabbed 5 yards at the time, figuring it would be enough. I had recently completed another Regency dress and was going to use the same pattern from Sense and Sensibility. Then Laughing Moon came out with their drop front dress pattern and I fell in love with it. 
Laughing Moon #126
I loved this view with the ruffles on the arms and it looked like the design would work well with the print of my fabric. The other reason is because View B is based off an original held by the Kent State University Museum, the same museum where I interned at while doing my graduate coursework. When I saw a picture of the original, I'm pretty certain I saw this dress while going through storage for class materials. The original is from 1810 and made of printed cotton.
1983.1.28 KSU Museum
Additional photos of the original dress are on my Pinterest board

Monday, September 21, 2015

Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award

I opened up the computer this weekend to find I had been nominated by Gabriela by Pour La Victoire for the Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award. A very big thank you!

Official Award Rules: 
  1. Thank the blogger who nominated you, linking back to their site
  2. Put the Award logo on your blog.
  3. Answer the ten questions sent to you.
  4. Make up ten new questions for your nominees to answer
  5. Nominate ten blogs.
So here goes everything:

1) A big thank you again to Gabriela at Pour La Victoire! It's this type of recognition that encourages me to keep up with blogging and posting even when the projects can get discouraging at times.


Sunday, September 13, 2015

Finished 1890s Bathing Costume

The weather was lovely, my sister was at the house, I remembered that I needed to photograph my costume... So here it is in all its green splendor!
Front with the skirt over top
Back of skirt with pleating

Friday, September 11, 2015

TBT: My First Victorian Dress

I have been wanting to do a Throwback Thursday for a while, but my days off and free time don't always line up exactly with Thursday. So we'll go for posting this one on Friday since I have a quick moment before getting started on today's to-do list.

This flashback goes way back to the beginning when everything first started. So here it is, the very first Victorian dress that I made:
Kent Heritage Day Festival - July 2010
While we all have to start somewhere, I look at this and simultaneously shudder in horror but also snort in laughter. This was supposed to be a mid-1890s day dress. I had only done some minor research on how dresses of this period looked, knew nothing about cotton vs. poly blend vs. poly fabrics, had no proper undergarments, and had not touched a sewing machine for about five years before starting this dress. At least I made a wise selection where my patterns were concerned!

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Regency Drop Front Day Dress

In between finishing up the last little bits of my swim costume and the new boater hat, I finally got around to starting my new Regency dress. Hoorah, since I've only been wanting to do this project since last year.
My last Regency dress buttoned up the back and the difference with this one is it has an apron or drop front. While it might not seem like a huge difference, it is for me because this will make it easier for adjustment in Lack of Cleavage department.

Unfamiliar with how the pattern even went together, I did a mockup of the bodice area to see how it would fit. Lucky me, everything fit well the first time around and the only thing I will have to actually adjust is the muslin lining that ties across the front of the bust area.

A Quick Summer Boater Hat

So I've been holding off on photographing my new swim costume because I wanted to make a boater hat to go with the ensemble. Although I have a swim cap to go with it, I wanted a decorated boater hat for any "out of water" antics.

Most of the boater hats I viewed were decorated simply with a ribbon band, but I wanted something a little more but nothing too extravagant at the same time. While I'm making this to go with my swimsuit, I also want it for some other projects I'll eventually make. I started by purchasing a basic straw boater from Amazon.
Accessories I purchased online from etsy, going off of how I wanted to make it so it could be used for other outfits. It took a couple of weeks, but I finally got all of my supplies gathered together just last Thursday.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Mr. Selfridge Season 1 review

I have had Mr. Selfridge on my "to watch" list since it first came out back in 2013. Then I would find other shows, watch those, and it kept getting bumped down the list. Then I needed something to watch while doing hand sewing. So I finally got around to watching the first season. Why didn't I do this sooner?
Mr. Selfridge stars Jeremy Piven in the lead role of Harry Selfridge, the American retail magnate who established the London department store of the same name. This ongoing series is based on the biography of Selfridge titled Shopping, Seduction, and Mr. Selfridge by Linda Woodhead. The first season starts in 1908 and covers the scope of Selfridge not only funding, but opening then establishing his store as a preeminent destination for the Edwardian shopper.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Last Touch-ups for the Bathing Costume

I'm on the homestretch now for finishing up my bathing costume. For the main portion, I just have to add buttons, the collar ties, and figure out how to attach the front inset.
The skirt is going to be easy, I just need to sew on a button and a buttonhole.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Hidden Killers of the Victorian/Edwardian Home review

As I work through some of the finishing touches of my bathing costume, I've been watching oodles of shows to pass the time. I found this via my recommended shows list from my watching history on Amazon Prime.

"The dawn of the 20th century ushered in an era of fresh inventions and innovations: Electricity, refrigeration and many other materials promised to make life easier and more convenient. But lack of understanding meant that they frequently led to death."

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Battle of Five Forks Reenactment at Hale Farm

For the third year running, I traveled over to Hale Farm and Village for their annual Civil War reenactment. I got to wear my sheer striped dress to the event and while it was still very warm out, it was still much cooler than the calico dress I've worn in years past.

We walked around the village a bit and looked around the Union and Confederate camp sites. Kerry had gone with me again this year and he took a few photos while we were in the garden.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Bias, bias everywhere!

Since my idea to use soutache trim didn't pan out, I went with bias cut fabric strips to help trim out the swimsuit. I'm using some cream fabric that I already had on had, so I've been cutting, sewing, cutting some more, and then sewing even more. In short, I've never used this much bias before.

I've used bias strips before - for edging corsets and bodices, and I've used the pre-made stuff too for boning channels on bustles and crinolines. I'll readily admit though, that I've never made this much.
Of course one of the things I found is that cutting this much bias is easy, getting it ironed and folded turned out to be another challenge. When I first started ironing, the folds wouldn't stay very well and I would usually have to hand press them again while pinning everything. Then on a whim, I pulled out my Mary Ellen's Best Press and gave the fabric a light spritz before ironing. Oh what a difference!
About 6 yards of this stuff later, I started pinning and sewing. With the trim changes, my main inspiration is coming from this original piece.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Swimsuit Progress

Well things are going nicely so far. Got all of my pieces cut without a hitch and started pinning and sewing things according to directions. Mostly.

My first change in the project was to the lining along the upper back inside the swimsuit. Original directions said to top stitch the folded edge to the back. I didn't want this seam showing on the outside, so I edge stitched the fold under and then hand stitched it.
The only other outright change made was to my bodice side seams. During the initial measurement process, I made adjustments for the waist to be let out about 2 sizes. Once my shoulder seams were in place, I did drape the bodice over myself. Thank goodness to because I ended up taking the bust area in just a little.
Angling the seam allowance from 1/2" to 3/4" to allow for drape adjustment.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Summertime Swimtime

So I'm sure we all have those projects that forever sit in our mind going, "Make me! Make me!" This is one of those.
Image via Pinterest
I have always been wanting to make a late Victorian bathing costume. I love the look of them, I think they're charming (I've never been a bikini girl), and I would be that kind of nerd to actually wear one if I went swimming somewhere.
Image via Pinterest

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Just Another Handbag Weekend

I had the weekend off so I put together a quick little project. I had bought Butterick's historical handbags 1890-1910 pattern (B4411) at some point and pulled it out last week to see about doing one of the bags (This pattern is now out of print, but can still be found on etsy and ebay). I opted for B because after looking through the instructions, I figured it would be the easiest to get done over the weekend.
Using the last of my Christmas gift card stash, I picked up some supplies (shame on me for not using the stash). I opted for a brown shot teal silk for the exterior of the bag, and a gold poly satin for the lining. Ribbon and trim that I selected matched the satin.
After cutting everything out, I found that the directions were probably the hardest thing to work with. According to the supply list, I needed interfacing for only one of the fabrics. According to the directions, I was supposed to apply interfacing to both the lining and contrast facing.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Regency Stays - Trial and Error Round One

Well I got my Regency stays finished to the point that I could try them on. So I did. And this is what I ended up with.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Regency Stay Cording

Waaay back in February, I began my foray into making some Regency corded stays. Then I was distracted by other projects. Now I'm back to working on the stays.

I got all my channels sewed finally and then started on the cording. Reading from the directions and recommendations within the sewing community, I got some cooking twine to use for the cording in the channels. Well the first time I went to thread a channel, I immediately discovered it was too big.

I double checked my directions, but didn't see any options outside of the cooking twine. Hmm. Then I remembered this thick cotton thread I had once used as a kid to try and crochet a head scarf. Possibility?
I found a 4 oz. package of Sugar'n Cream worsted cotton yarn at the local fabric store that matched what I remembered using. Took everything home and it ended up being just the right size!

Friday, June 19, 2015

Put on your Sunday clothes...

Just a quick little update. For Sunday, I got together with my friend Sarah and we went down to the Southern Gardens Tea Room. I had visited it previously, but this was her first time there. So we put on our dresses and hats and off we went!

Sunday, June 7, 2015

The Dressmaker review

Up for review this month is a piece of historical fiction that I read recently - The Dressmaker by Kate Alcott. The premise of it was good. A young girl, Tess, who works as a seamstress, manages to hitch a last minute ride of the legendary Titanic. The person sponsoring her passage is none other than Lady Lucile Duff-Gordon, dress designer extraordinaire. In the wake of the Titanic's disastrous encounter with an iceberg, the story follows the characters through the days after the sinking and rescue to the U.S. inquiry that delved into how the accident happened.
This short synopsis follows the summary on the inner cover and while it managed to intrigue me, the actual book itself was a far bigger disappointment.

Finished Sheer Stripe Dress

Everything came together finally - we had nice weather, low humidity, and both myself and the boyfriend were home so he could help me with pictures. The dress itself has been finished for a few weeks, but this was the first time I was able to get around to photographing it.

So first, my prior posts on how everything went together.
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

And the finished dress!

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Victorian Tea Event at Muncie Public Library

Please excuse the sparse postings, I've been dealing with some health issues over the last month. This is sort of a continuation of what happened to my sheer stripe dress.

The reason I was putting the dress together to begin with is back in February, my friend Kerrie had asked if I would come out to the Muncie Public Library where she worked to do a Victorian workshop. No biggie, I love doing workshops and lectures. Muncie is in Indiana and I live in NE Ohio so...roadtrip!

We had several attendees and had areas set up for making tea hats, fans, and calling cards.
Making tea hats - Image from Muncie Public Library

Friday, May 22, 2015

Cartridge Pleating for the Sheer Stripe Dress

I've finished off the last few touches on my bodice and one of these led me to make a few changes on my finished dress. When I attached my waistband to the bodice, it did this weird thing and shrunk about 2 inches (?). As a result, I wasn't going to be able to attach the skirt portion of the dress directly to the bodice because none of the edges lined up the way they were supposed to. On to plan B.

In the instructions for the dress (TV447), Heather does provide alternate instructions for creating the skirt and bodice as separate pieces. So I got everything cut and sewed according to the instructions, and then stood back and looked at the amount of fabric I would be working with.
Yeah, that's a lot of fabric!
At 60" wide with 4 panels to work with, I found I would have to somehow attach 20 feet of material to about 34 inches of waistband.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Death of a Schoolgirl review

In case it has never been mentioned, Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte is probably my favorite piece of classical literature. I've read the book a couple of times, and have seen almost every single film adaptation. Jane Eyre is one of those pieces that is well-loved by many, as evidenced by the numerous spin-offs or "sequels" that other authors have written over the years that continue Jane's story

Note: Some spoilers included in case you have yet to read the book or see a film version.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

HSF #3 Stashbusting

This is no April Fool's joke, I'm getting up a second post AND finished two small projects today. Hooray! And just in time for it to qualify for a 2015 Historical Sew Fortnightly challenge. I'm trying to make all my projects from my fabric stash this year, so I wasn't following the challenges too much. Challenge #3 was stash busting though, so hooray!

What it is - Young girl's bonnet and apron
Fabric - Reproduction cotton fabric from a leftover project for the bonnet, cotton/poly broadcloth for the apron
Pattern - Simplicity 3725
Year - 1870s through 1890s -ish. I wasn't worried about accuracy because they're for play.
Notions - Satin ribbon, bias tape, iron on interfacing for the bonnet, thread
How historically accurate is it? - See above, I wasn't too worried about their accuracy since they're play items for a young girl.
Hours to complete - About 2 hours to cut out, 6 hours to sew both items.
First worn - Not until her birthday in June
Total cost - $0, it's all from the stash!

Back at Christmas I made a calico dress for the beau's younger sister, Lexie. She loved the dress so much that I pulled out the pattern again and made a couple accessories for the dress using stash materials.

Bodice Bustin for the 1863 Dress

Well things are progressing nicely with my sheer dress. While I have been taking my time with it to make sure fittings are going well, I'm also making sure to correct a few areas where my last dress was rushed.

For the collar, I had just cut a bias strip and sewed it in. Yeah, it looks poorly planned and executed as a result. This time, I decided to draft out a collar using the existing pattern pieces.
Drafting a collar off the original pattern
Final collar to line the inside
Cutting it to match the neckline definitely makes things lay flatter and it covers the fabric and piping edges.