This is the second half of my most recent post, which can be read here. As I said there, I’ve been sewing a lot this fall, so I thought that I’d finally document what I’ve made. I’ll also include the pictures that I (finally!) got of a project from a while ago.
After making the striped dress from a pattern from 1946, I worked on my Halloween costume for most of September. However, in late September, I attended the Snohomish Tweed Ride, and I determined that I needed an outfit. I had the proper jacket, shirt, shoes, etc., so I chose to make a new skirt from Simplicity 8486. I used a wool twill in grey and maroon that I found at a garage sale, and I altered the pattern a bit so that the front and back panels were wider at the hem (to make it easier to ride a bicycle). The skirt went together quickly, and only got caught in my bike chain once!
The next thing I made was a quick dress from Gertie’s Ultimate Dress Book. (Side note: I love her books, and I always reference them when I’m trying to learn a new technique, because she has some great dressmaking information!)
I wanted a vintage-inspired dress for the Northwest Tea Festival, and I had about two yards of Ikea fabric in a tea and accoutrements print, so I was able to Frankenstein a dress together using the V-neck bodice from Gertie’s books and some mysterious circle-ish skirt pattern that I’d drafted a while ago. I cut it out one night, and then spent 5 hours sewing the next night (which was luckily a Friday) and I was able to wear it on Saturday! The fit on this is a little off (it’s a bit too tight and too high in the waist), but it was fun to wear nonetheless. I was going to add some ribbon decoration around the waist and neckline to hide the fact that the facing tends to peek up because it warped (it was cut on the bias), but I also like the dress as it is. If you have any strong opinions or great ideas for what I should use to trim it/if I should trim it, please comment.
Regardless of if I add to it, it was wearable for the tea festival, and I greatly enjoyed wearing it. The belt here is not connected to the dress, I just liked how it looked.
The last thing I have to write about is the pictures I took of my “Rosie the Riveter” Dress. I have an entire post devoted to it, so I won’t discuss construction here.
Here are the photos:
That’s all for now. Thank you for reading, and keep your eye out for a post about my Halloween costume soon!
Since August, I’ve been gradually adding to my vintage-inspired clothing “stash,” for lack of a better word. It has mostly been clothes for school, which started in late August for me, but also two garments for events. Because there is a lot to cover here (I made 5 garments!), I’m going to do two posts. Hopefully, the second one will be out by the end of the weekend.
Unrelated: I’ve been doing a lot of historical sewing as well lately, but I’ll discuss that in a series of later posts, so keep your eye out.
The first thing I made was a dirndl dress from Gertie’s Butterick collection, pattern B6352. This dress originally had a zipper down the front, a gathered circle skirt, and a ruffle around the bottom of the skirt, but I only had 4 yards of rayon (the pattern called for 5 or 6 yards) and I dislike zippers, so I made some alterations to the pattern.
Before I discuss those alterations, allow me to digress about this fabric: it’s lovely. I bought it from the Etsy shop The Vintage Nerd Sews, and the proprietress of the shop was very helpful when I asked about the fabric. The fabric itself is a green rayon with irregular ridges, almost like dupioni. It was exactly what I had in mind when I was searching, so thankfully I was able to buy it for this.
Anyway, those aforementioned alterations consisted of using hook and eye tape for the front closure, gathering a rectangle for the skirt, and omitting the ruffle. I was able to cut the skirt on the selvage edge, so I didn’t have to think about hemming, which was a relief.
The construction was rather complicated, because I flat lined the bodice with heavy canvas to compensate for the rayon’s slippery nature. I also fully lined the bodice, and finished every seam. The neckline and cap sleeve cuffs were piped with white piping, and a lot of the finishing was done by hand to ensure neatness.
I still need to add a modesty panel into this, but I’m debating doing that because I would just use a piece of white fabric, and it’s easier to wear a white tank top. We shall see.
Here are some construction pictures:
For some reason, I had such a hard time photographing this dress when worn, because I would forget to ask a friend to photograph it at school, or I would feel awkward getting photos on the school grounds, or the photos would be blurry, so even though I wore it as much as I could before the weather became too cold, my photos are sub-par. The best ones were taken in the window of my school’s costume closet by a friend.
The next thing I made was a hooded flannel from the Simplicity 8447 pattern. The pattern is great, and I cannot wait to make the overalls and the pants, but the hooded flannel captured my heart as soon as I saw it, and I had to make one. In fact, I’m trying to start a hooded flannel revolution among my peers because they’re so comfortable and chic, and one of my friends has made one thus far. Another has the pattern at the moment, and when I get it back, I plan on making several to give as gifts and for myself. The pattern is simply that amazing.
Anyway, on to construction: Using a cotton flannel from Joann’s, I followed the pattern for the most part, making up my own instructions where I thought Simplicity’s were unnecessarily complicated. I finished almost all of the seams, with the exception of the armscyes, but I may neaten those by hand if fraying becomes a problem. I also tacked down all of the facings by hand for a clean finish.
Here are some pictures, in which I was also wearing a high-waisted skirt, because I like how it makes the shirt more fitted.
The next thing I made was from a vintage pattern, Hollywood 1938, which was printed in 1946. The instructions were rather unclear, so I mostly made them up as I went along, which worked out very well.
Before making my dress, I made a mockup because I wanted a perfect fit, and luckily, the pattern fit me perfectly, without any alteration, which is unusual for me because I have a long waist. Once I was certain it fit, I used a plain, if a bit sheer, striped cotton from a local fabric store, Drygoods Design, for the dress, and I decided against trimming it because I liked the simplicity of the blue-grey stripes. I especially like the pockets, which fit my phone and gloves perfectly, because of the contrast in the stripe direction. I was running out of interfacing as I made this, so the interfacing on the neck and back facing is very spotty, but it works. I finished all of the facings, and tacked them down by hand, and after that, I added buttons.
I wear this over a 1940s cotton slip, because the fabric is fairly sheer, which has inspired me to make myself more slips, because they’re so pretty and because I have an original pattern from the early 1940s. Hopefully, those dreams will come to fruition soon.
I’m also wearing a black belt to define the waist, because the princess seams do not to that very much on their own.
Here are the pictures:
That’s the end of Part I! Thanks for reading, and keep and eye out for another post very soon.
This post has been a long time coming. I have been debating with myself if it’s worth it to waste powder and pomade on my hair just to photograph a hat, and my current answer is “no” because I’m running out of both and do not have the time at the moment to make some. So apologies in advance for creepy photos of my hat on my dress form’s neck.
You can see my previous posts about making this dress here and here. When I last updated this project, the gown was done structurally but very sad because it did not have any trimming whatsoever.
Because this dress was originally inspired by the famous dress in Janet Arnold, I decided that it had to have a similar van dyke collar (I believe that is the term, though if it’s not, apologies).
Making this was very simple, and I was able to complete it in a few hours. I started by tracing a vague pattern based on my dress’s measurements and Janet Arnold’s pattern.
I used my machine to French seam the back of the collar, and then I painstakingly pinned black polyester satin ribbon around each of the points and sewed it, right side to wrong side, to the collar by machine. I touched up any bits where my machine had missed by hand, and then I turned the ribbon to the front and tacked it down by hand.
With a good ironing, the collar was finished, with no visible machine stitches. Next, I stitched it to the neckline of the gown so that the raw edge was hidden, but I didn’t finish the inside, so there is still a raw edge when one turns up the collar.
Once the collar was attached, it was still missing something, so I made a black taffeta bow and sewed it to the front of the dress in a way that it covers the place where the points of the zone front meet.
Once that was done, the dress was entirely trimmed. At a later date, I do have plans to convert it to a button-front dress with buttoning cuffs, but I’m not sure if that will be possible, and I like the adjustability of pin-fitting. It’s a quandary.
The hat base was not historically accurate by any stretch of the imagination: I used cheap buckram from Joann’s, and the brim is supported with zip ties encased in bias tape as well as the wire. Nevertheless, it gets the job done admirably and is only sort of floppy.
I also made a crown out of buckram that I lined with scraps from my dress. The top of the crown is wired too.
I was really bad at photographing the construction of this hat because I spent 24 hours out of 48 making it, most of it in the wee hours of the morning. So, sorry if my descriptions are a bit unclear without accompanying pictures, but I probably will make this hat again with a larger crown, so I will be sure to take lots of pictures as I make that.
Anyway, I tacked the taffeta to the top and sides of the crown, which I had flat-lined with the lining fabric, and then I tacked them together so that no raw edges could be seen. The next step was to attach the crown to the brim, which I did by notching the crown and placing it on the hole I had cut in the brim.
After that, I covered the brim with taffeta. It was trimmed with three massive ostrich plumes, several blue rooster feathers, and a black taffeta band, sewn into a bow, to cover the ends of the feathers. I also added a brooch because I decided that it needed some sparkle.
One fun thing was that while I was transporting the hat, I had to carry it on my lap because I didn’t want it to be damaged in airport security or in a suitcase. I got quite a few stares for wearing this at the airport, but it was worth it.
The last accessory was a black cotton voile fichu that I threw together while at Costume College (it didn’t take long, and I wanted my large, unwieldy projects to be completed so that I could complete the easy stuff like a neckerchief at Costume College).
Surprisingly, I only took two photos of this dress that evening. I’m not sure how that happened. Hopefully, though, I’ll soon have a photoshoot with this one, and I’ll post nicer photos.
This year, I attended Washington Midsummer Renaissance Faire (I have attended before, but this was the first time I really put a lot of effort into my costume). A few friends and I decided to go the weekend after Costume College, and I didn’t have any time to make a new costume before Costume College, so I had one week to throw something together. Thank God for The Tudor Tailor! I ended up procrastinating until only a few days before the faire to even draft my pattern, so excluding cutting and fitting, this dress was made in a less-than-twenty-four-hour time span.
The pattern was flat-drafted based on one of the patterns for a Henrican lady’s kirtle in The Tudor Tailor, but with a different boning pattern. The mock-up fit almost perfectly, and with a few minor changes, I had a pattern.
For the fashion fabric, I used some red cotton with printed gold crosses from my stash and for the interlining I used canvas – the front was interlined with some delightfully stiff canvas, but I quickly ran out of that and had to use a less stiff fabric for the back.
As you can see, I removed the seam allowances from the interlining because it was to be secured with numerous channels.
I made up the boning pattern because I wanted something aesthetically pleasing and I knew that there would be enough visible machine top stitching that historical accuracy was beyond me (not to mention my materials – If I remember correctly cotton wasn’t used in England in the 16th century, but don’t quote me on that).
Once the main channels were done, I sewed the side seams and then stitched down the seam allowances to function as additional boning channels. For the “bones”, I used quarter inch zip ties with filed ends.
Then, I added the facings. I arranged the front facings in a way that I liked and turned under the excess at the front of the bodice, which is pinned in the picture above. The excess at the fronts of the bodice was stitched, creating three more channels in each front piece: one for eyelets, and the other two for bones.
I don’t have any more construction pictures, but next, I tacked down the facings by hand, sewed the straps to each other, French seamed the excess 3 yards of fabric into a tube with a small opening, and gathered it. The gathered tube was sewn to the bottom edge of the bodice, and at that point the gown was mostly done. Thankfully, I didn’t have to hem the gown because the selvage edge was a suitable legnth. The dress was a bit long in the end, but I quite liked the legnth; it made me feel a bit fae-like. I actually did try to hem the gown with an embroidery stitch on my machine and some metallic thread, but that gummed up my machine so badly that I decided to keep the legnth as a design feature.
Once the gown was completely constructed, I hand-worked some eyelets down the front in metallic thread, and it was laced with a black ribbon. On the way to the faire the next morning, I added a hook and eye to the slit at the front of the skirt.
The kirtle was worn with an old shirt I had bought at a previous faire (I wanted to make a Renaissance smock, but I ran out of time) and my Christmas crown.
One of my friends also made her own costume, and she looked absolutely beautiful, but I sadly don’t have any good pictures of her costume from the faire.
This year, for the first (and definitely not the last) time, I attended Costume College in Los Angeles, California. Needless to say, it was incredible. I met so many amazing people, and I made many new friends. It was somewhat surreal to meet people whom I had only seen on social media and the blogosphere. It was like meeting celebrities, but actually having something to talk about with them. The other great thing about Costume College was that everyone had the same interest! I suppose that must be what most conventions are like, but it was very fun nonetheless. A love of costuming seems to breed the love of other things as well, such as vintage fashion and history, so the conversation was all very interesting and engaging, at least to me.
The theme this year was 1960s, which isn’t my favorite era in fashion, so on most days I just wore 40s/50s vintage clothing.
Okay, on to the actual pictures, et cetera.
On Thursday, I took a class on fitting a 1770s riding habit with JP Ryan. I managed to fit my waistcoat but not my jacket, but I think that I will be able to fit the jacket easily enough. I’d love to make a scarlet or perhaps forest green riding habit some day.
Thursday night was the pool party. I am generally a shy person, and this was compounded by the fact that I didn’t know anyone there, but I ended up talking to people and meeting the group of costumers that I spent the most time with throughout the weekend.
I didn’t take many pictures that evening, but everyone’s costumes were wonderful. I had wanted to make a late Victorian swim suit for the event, but instead I wore a 1960s swim suit because I did not have time to make the Victorian suit.
On Friday, the games truly began. I woke up early and after eating breakfast, sewed in the lobby (I was trying to finish a neckerchief for Friday night, which I did finish, and a cap to turn my Gala gown into daywear, which remains uncompleted. I will finish it soon though, hopefully). Sewing in the lobby was quite a lot of fun because I could talk to others doing the same. The first class I went to was 18th Century Hair Styling with Historical Products, the second was Finishing Your 18th Century Look, and the third was a workshop making a late 18th century/regency muff (which I did not complete, but will post about when I do). All of the classes were very informative and I learned quite a lot.
Many people wore historical daywear during the day, which I found quite impressive. Hopefully I’ll have enough time to make myself some daywear for next year as well.
(In the following pictures, I sadly did not get everyone’s names or blog titles, so forgive me).
Friday night was the Social, which was absolutely a blast. The food was amazing (lots of cakes and cookies – I have a sweet tooth), and everyone’s costumes were beautiful.
I wore my 1790s duvet cover dress (here and here) with my Gainsborough hat and newly added collar (I need to take pictures and then I will share the construction of those). I had trouble with my hair, because it was too long for the hedgehog hair I tried to do!
On Saturday, I took Introduction to Hat Blocking, Fashions of Versailles (under the reign of Louis XIV, particularly), and Understructures of the Late Victorian Skirt. These were all subjects with which I was less familiar, so it was very interesting to learn about them!
I was going to go to a fourth class on Saturday, but I decided not to, which was good because my late 1770s hair took forever to style.
That night was the Gala, which was incredibly fun. Everyone looked wonderful (it’s a theme). I wore my Maureen Gown, which was quite comfortable thanks to its fit.
There are so many more pictures I would like to post, but this is quite long already. The Costume College Instagram (here) has many great pictures if you’re interested.
The next morning, I took a class on constructing late Victorian combination underwear, and I hope to finish those soon.
Because of my flight, I missed the Sunday Tea, but I hope to attend next year.
All in all, I had the most wonderful time and learned so much, and I can’t wait to go to Costume College next year!
Yep, it’s the Maureen gown, also known as my Costume College 2017 Gala gown. The reasons for its formal name are rather confusing and somewhat purposely obfuscated, but I feel like the name suits the gown and the gown suits the name.
The Maureen gown was entirely hand sewn using period techniques to the best of my ability. The matching petticoat and the accessories (there will be a separate post about those coming later) were entirely hand sewn as well. My stays are not entirely hand sewn, but perhaps they will be someday. I actually hadn’t finished my stays in time for Costume College (they didn’t have a lining or eyelets at the shoulder straps) so I kind of, sort of sewed myself into them. My shift still isn’t finished or even wearable, but the gown was done and that was what mattered for the Gala.
Just before I began this gown, my mother’s cousin sent me the Larkin and Smith English Gown pattern, and it was beyond compare. I altered it a little bit to have a closed front and a higher back (my stays go up too high on the back), yet without any changes to the fit itself the bodice fit perfectly on the first mockup. The gown was made of the pink silk that I got in Paris and some white Burnley and Trowbridge linen. I trimmed it with Burnley and Trowbridge silk gauze, and the entire gown was sewn with white silk thread where the seams wouldn’t show and matching thread pulled from the weft of the fabric (I’m dedicated, apparently) where the seams would show.
The best thing about the Larkin and Smith pattern was that it came with directions, so for most of the construction, I just followed those. I did change the back pleats to make them more narrow and to make them inverted because I was going for a later 1770s look, but my pleats weren’t close enough together to match my references, sadly.
After prick stitching (pick stitching? I’ve seen it both ways) the pleats, I used a lapped seam to attach the bodice fronts, but not the bodice front lining (that came later in the instructions). I prick stitched over those seams to continue my theme, and because I liked how it looked.
My next step was to attach the skirt panels together and to the back skirt panel. (there were four in addition to the back). At this point I also hemmed the fronts of the skirt and finished the pocket slits. I then painstakingly pleated the skirts to the bodice, which was very fiddly, but it worked out in the end.
After attaching the skirts to the bodice, there was an odd bunchy bit at the back. I think that this was because my pleats faced inwards rather than outwards like the pattern recommended, but nevertheless it didn’t look good. I ended up covering these spots with self covered buttons, but that was the last thing I did (in the hotel room, the night before the Gala), so I don’t have any close-up photos of the completed bodice back.
Once the skirts were done, I lap stitched in the bodice lining and back stitched on the shoulder straps.
I should note now that the stays on my dress form for these pictures were not the stays that I wore with this gown. The stays on the dress form are my old stays, and are a little bit too short in the waist for me, but they’re far easier to get on and off the dress form and I used them for fitting my 1790s duvet cover dress, so forgive me.
After this, I made the sleeves, but I didn’t get any construction pictures because I was kind of involved in watching Rat Race and then all of the Wes Anderson films that the library had while sewing. Unrelated: I highly recommend Rat Race while sewing. Wes Anderson was harder to sew during because I wanted to focus on the beautiful cinematography rather than my sewing, but all of the films were great.
Once the sleeves were done, I backstitched them into the bottom of the armscythe and turned in the edges of the bodice. In hindsight, it would have made more sense to turn in the edges of the bodice after the shoulder straps were attached, but it was all covered with trim anyway, in the end.
I attached the sleeve heads the usual way, and covered them with the shoulder strap, which was prick stitched down. The shoulder strap lining was finished as well. Each sleeve has a little shoulder pleat for ease, but the sleeves are a little bit too big at the elbow and forearm, so I’ll have to alter that. I actually altered the original sleeve pattern to make it longer, so that may be the problem.
I finished the top edge of the back bodice with a little scrap of silk, prick stitched it down on the outside, and whip stitched it down on the inside.
The sleeves and the skirts were then hemmed, and the gown base was finished. However, it still needed trimming. For most of this, I roll hemmed strips of silk gauze (and promptly didn’t have enough, resulting in more roll hems and French seams connecting errant strips of trim). The silk gauze was box pleated to the neckline and cuffs. I’d like to eventually have more matching trim down the front of the gown, but I’m not sure I have it in me to roll hem that much fabric. Who knows, though? Historical costuming is a bit of a sickness.
I sadly don’t have any close-up shots of the cuffs, but I plan on doing a photoshoot with this dress once I finish my cap, so stay tuned for that.
Sometime during all of this, I also managed to pull together a petticoat, but I don’t have pictures of that either, except when worn with my gown. Suffice to say that it was the most lovely silk taffeta in a pale yellow and white stripe and that it was incredibly stiff – I was able to pull it out several feet from my legs, and it would stay in the air as though my hand was still holding it. I think that I have enough left to make one of those wonderful 1780s jellyfish hats, and hopefully to add some trim to the petticoat as well, so that will be swell.
Somewhat last minute (the night before the gala) I made a bow to match the petticoat in yellow silk taffeta, but it’s a bit chunky, and I will probably change it later.
Here are some photos of my dress from the Gala:
I wore it with my stays, one bum roll, my “quilted” petticoat, and an apron (more on that later). I also wore some of my mother’s pearls, my Dames a la Mode earrings, American Duchess Kensingtons and clocked stockings. My hair was powdered and pomaded within an inch of its life.
I should have a blog post about Costume College 2017 itself up very soon!
Hi; I’ve been meaning to write this post for a while, but I got caught up in Costume College preparations! There will be several posts forthcoming about Costume College and the dresses that I made, but I wanted to get this out of the way first.
Anyway, a few weeks ago, I was in New York, taking a class at Barnard. After classes, I had several hours each day to roam around the city before I took the train back to where I was staying. I had, for a long while, wanted to go to the New York Garment District (I had been before, but I only visited two stores and I hadn’t really had a plan of action). This time, I watched Angela Clayton’s YouTube video ahead of time about how she shops in the Garment District, and I found it very helpful to take some of her advice – for example, apparently they negotiate prices in the Garment District stores, so I ended up saving quite a bit of money on fabric that way.
Before I went, I made a comprehensive list of my upcoming projects and the fabric I would need for them. I also made a list of stores that I wanted to visit, but I ended up visiting pretty much every store on the block (I think it was 39th street between 7th and 8th avenues that I walked down, but the Garment District is huge, so I definitely didn’t visit all of the shops in it), so that was rather pointless. On the first day, I mostly went into different fabric stores, got swatches, and compared prices. I did buy a few yards of a few things that were inexpensive and of which there wasn’t much left, however. That evening, I compared prices, and wrote out a list of what fabric I wanted to buy and how much it was, and I ended up removing a few projects from my docket, because there is always next year. The following day, I negotiated prices and bought my fabric. In total, I ended up coming away with twenty-seven (I think) yards of fabric and a whole lot of feathers.
Here is the actual fabric:
I was so excited when I found this two-tone silk. Burnley and Trowbridge used to sell something similar, but by the time I decided to get some, it was out of stock! This silk is nearly identical, but it is a little bit less smooth. I think that it’s a dupioni, but the nubs are small enough that it doesn’t seem like such, which is good. I plan on using this to make a 1790s redingote like the one at LACMA.
This aqua blue linen was a bit of a spur-of-the-moment buy, but when I saw it I knew that it would be perfect for the Tilly and the Buttons Françoise Dress, which I had planned to make as day wear for Costume College. Alas, time did not permit, but I think that I will make the dress soon anyway; it’s just so darned cute. I ended up buying four or five yards of this, so I should have enough for an 18th century jacket also.
From the same store as the blue linen, I bought some very fine white linen, but I forgot to photograph that. I think that I’ll use it for some 18th century or regency day caps.
This fabric was also a spur-of-the-moment buy, and I think that I’ll use it to make a 1940s-inspired pinafore.
This is black silk taffeta, but it doesn’t photograph very well. I used most of it to make a massive Gainsborough hat like the one worn by Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire in the Gainsborough portrait. Hopefully, I should have a post up about that project soon. I think that I’ll use the rest for a smaller 18th century black silk cap.
This is a cream taffeta that bought to make a fancy petticoat and stomacher for a dress that I haven’t yet made. The dress will be a plain green wool incarnation of the Larkin and Smith pattern, but I wanted to make an additional petticoat and stomacher so that I could wear it as an evening dress as well as a day dress.
I bought these ribbons because a) silk ribbons are hard to find and b) I thought that they were pretty. I will probably use them to trim an 18th century cap, and I already used the pink ribbon as a hair accessory at the Costume College Gala.
I bought these two silks for a project that I have in mind but don’t want to share just yet. I will update as it progresses, though.
As I said, I bought a ton of feathers. I am very grateful that they didn’t break in my suitcase, though they are actually far sturdier than they appear. I wore the white feathers in my hair at the Costume College Gala, and the black and blue feathers made an appearance on my Gainsborough hat. I have a ton of blue feathers left, and I’m not sure exactly what to do with them. Right now, they reside in a glass in my sewing room with the white plumes, and I kind of love just staring at them, so I don’t mind if I can’t think of a use for them for a while. By the way, the blue feathers are far more iridescent and bright in person. I guess that they just don’t photograph well.
I didn’t actually buy this fur. It was a gift from my aunt, who repurposes antique fur coats and had a ton of scraps. I really want to make fur-trimmed historical things, but I have qualms about buying new fur because I don’t think that animals should be hunted for their pelts, especially if they’re rare animals, and plus, new fur is so expensive, so I’m very grateful that my aunt had some fur that she wasn’t using! I think that I’ll make a fur-trimmed muff, fur-trimmed gloves, and if I have enough, a fur-trimmed cape. However, the real reason I wanted some fur was so that I could make a fur-trimmed jacket like the one Claire wears in Outlander.
I think that’s everything. I should have a post up about Costume College or further posts about making my Costume College dresses shortly!