Saturday, March 19, 2016

What I'm up to! A Regency beaded dress

While I generally don't like to use this blog for in progress updates, I'm far enough into my current project and it's going to take all of my time for the foreseeable future, so I thought I'd make an exception.

A few years ago, I found this beaded dress at the Met and instantly fell in love. I finally decided that I needed to make it.


Here's where I am now. The bodice is done, and the hem is started. That's the neckline, cuff, and hem in the picture. I'm not sure how much of the original hem I'm going to be able to copy and have it ready for my deadline, but I'm feeling rather ambitious about the whole thing :)

Wish me luck!

Sunday, February 7, 2016

A Brief Costume Update--Or I have been busy!

Although I haven't posted here in ages, I have been busy! In fact, it's why I've been neglecting to post. I thought since it's been so long I'd share an update on just what I've been working on. Since Costume College, I've made six new dresses, three dresses and a wrapper for my trip to Gettysburg (though I have no useable wrapper pictures!), my contribution to the Vernet project, and a new ball gown for the Jane Austen Evening. I also have tutorials for each of these dresses planned.

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My dresses for Gettysburg were an orange wool tartan trimmed with lime green silk with a slightly gored skirt worn over an elliptical hoop, a wool gauze ball gown, and a blue wool dress based on a silk dress at the Met, and worn with a talma knitted from an 1857 pattern, knitted mariposa cap, and tiny Princess Royal scarf.

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My Verrnet dress is possibly the least favorite thing I've ever made, though I am happy with the shawl collar and will have a tutorial. Thankfully, I followed with possibly the most fun dress I've ever made, my over the top sweet Regency ball gown. It has nine ribbon streamers coming from the waist which made it incredibly fun to dance in. I'm wearing both of these dresses over my new Bernhardt short stays, which I love.

More about all of these dresses coming soon! Maybe :)

Saturday, August 22, 2015

A 1946 Playsuit

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My 1946 playsuit in a picture taken by my 1919-1924 Brownie No. 2 Model E. It's based on this 1946 suit by Claire McCardell at the Met. It's made of wool jersey from Nature's Fabrics.

I made this in 2013 with plans to wear it to the hopeful pool party on Sunday at Costume College, but that didn't happen. I brought it in 2014 to wear to the beach, but that also didn't happen. I was quite happy to wear it to both the beach and Thursday night pool party at Costume College this year!

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Construction was very straightforward. The top is a trapezoid with a slightly scooped neck that's gathered to self fabric ties. To pattern the top, I took a rectangle of muslin, folded the edges in a trapezoidal shape, gathered it to my neck and underbust, adjusted the width, and marked the curve of my neck. The skirt is a wrap skirt, and just a rectangle of fabric gathered to self ties. The underlap area isn't gathered so the skirt sits better.

To attach the ties, I sewed them right side to right side using my machine's stretch stitch. I sewed the back by hand. I also sewed the ties shut by hand. I'm sure there's an efficient way to do this by machine, but I'm a good enough hand sewer that I found it easy to do this way.

I decided to make the top tie instead of button as in the original to make it easier to fit, and to, although I wasn't planning on wearing this for actual swimming, not have to worry about stretching if it got wet.

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I made the shorts a year after making the skirt and top--fortunately Nature's Fabrics still had the seafoam green! Instead of making the slightly diaper like shorts of the original, I used the pattern for shorts from the vintage pattern I used for my first playsuit. The shorts close in back with a button and loop at the waist and snaps on the placket.

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And though I didn't go very deep, I did wade into the ocean in this! A few waves tried to drench the skirt, but, being wool jersey, it repelled most of the water and dried quickly.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

A 1913 Dress Based on a Photograph of Mata Hari


Do you know those dresses that you see and instantly decide that you must have? That was my reaction when I saw this dress in a 1913 photograph of Mata Hari. I abandoned my Costume College gala plans and decided to make it. I'm so glad I did--it's a bizarre little dress and was so much fun to wear!

I used my bustle bodice pattern as a base, lowering the neckline and raising the waist. I draped the side pleats on my dressform. It closes at center front with a front panel covering that opening and snapping into place on the left. This is illustrated in this post.

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The dress is made of silk taffeta from Pure Silks and my bandeau and the velvet for the skirt are from Thai Silks. The lining is the combed cotton broadcloth sheeting from Dharma Trading. The sleeve flounces are silk net.

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My hair is based on this style, and though obviously smaller, I was quite pleased with how it turned out and wish it had photographed more true to life. I did realize though, that this particular style is just 1860s with a bandeau. My necklace is from The Littlest Sister on Etsy, and my earrings and bracelets are from Dames a la Mode on Etsy. My shoes are Capezio ballroom shoes with vintage shoe clips.

Closure and construction information can be found here. Although after my first dress with strange closures I thought I'd never make another one, I've really come to love making dresses with multiple closures. Figuring them out is quite satisfying, and I think they make rather lovely dresses with the hidden closures.

1913 Mata Hari Dress--Closures and Construction

The dress I made based on a 1913 picture of Mata Hari has rather interesting construction. I based it off period examples, and although 1910s dresses commonly closed in back, I decided that mine would close in front for ease of dressing.

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Perspective with this dress is slightly odd. It never seems to look the same in pictures as it does in real life!

The dress opens at center front. The bodice is attached to a straight skirt that also opens at center front. It closes with hooks and eyes.

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A panel of silk lined with cotton covers the closure and snaps into place on the left side.

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The waistband of the bubble skirt closes separately on the left. The picture on the right shows a secret passage in the lower bubble skirt. I closed the bottom part of the seam with snaps, so a tailor's ham would fit through and you can iron it. A good thing, as it is looking a little worse for wear after Costume College!

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The base skirt is shaped a little like a pencil skirt. It needed to be wide enough to fit comfortably over my hips and narrow enough for the wrap skirt and bubble to look good, so it tapers in. The waist measurement is wider than mine, and it's fit to the bodice with darts.

The base skirt is hemmed, and the raw edge of the wrap skirt is sewn on that. It doesn't matter that the wrap skirt edge is unfinished, as it's covered by the bubble skirt.

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The bubble skirt is a giant tube with gathering stitches run at the bottom, middle, and top. The bottom seam is sewn for about an inch or two and then left open for a few inches that close with snaps so the finished skirt can be ironed. The bottom gathers are pulled to fit the base skirt, pinned on top of the velvet wrap skirt, and sewn into place.

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The center line of gathering is pulled in and pinned along the marked line seen on the left. It's then sewn to that.

The top is gathered into its own waistband, and the base skirt is sewn to the waistband bodice.

Though it is quite intricate, the multiple closures are worth it to get these complicated styles.

Faking a Regency Cap--A Tiny Tutorial

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I will happily admit this is not a completely accurate Regency cap. As I was sitting and looking at the strips of fabric that I was thinking about turning into a cap pattern, I realized I could go about it an easier way--I could use my Kannik's Korner cap pattern and add a few Regency elements. Some had ruffles across the crown, others had ruffles facing back, early fashion plates had colorful ribbon, (I'm obviously using the extended stylistic definition of Regency here), and a feature many of them had was the front ruffle extended around the back of the neck.

My cap is made of Swiss muslin and trimmed with Swiss embroidered edging, both from Farmhouse Fabrics. The ribbon is from Silky Way on eBay.

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To make my cap, I used the girl's band and woman's caul, like I have in my previous Kannik's Korner caps. I followed the directions with the pattern. After attaching the band and caul, I whip gathered a piece of the embroidered edging, and sewed it across the back crown of the cap. Then I sewed another whip gathered piece of edging to the back of the band, facing backwards. I then tried the cap on and pulled the drawstring to about where I wanted to wear it. I then took another piece of whip gathered edging and sewed it around the entire edge of the cap, including the gathered portion. Then I added ribbon, which I just played with until I liked the look of it.


And there it is, a very silly, frilly cap!

Binding 18th Century Stays--An Abbreivated Tutorial

After writing my 1780s stays tutorial, I realized that there was one part that was probably more helpful than anything else--binding the stays. I don't take credit for this binding method, rather Nicole, of Diary of a Mantua Maker told me about it, and I was later lucky enough to see it done on extant 18th century stays in Lara Corset's collection.

If you've ever wondered how 18th century stays had such a narrow binding, this is how. Instead of cutting all layers to the edge and binding, a seam allowance was left on the top layer of the stays, which was then wrapped to the wrong side and hemmed, essentially binding the stays before adding the binding.

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Here's the seam allowance on the top of the stays. Right now, it's all layers of the fabric. Inserting the boning is much easier this way.

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Only the inner layers of the stays are cut. The top layer seam allowance is left in place.

Sew the panels of the stays together. No need to do it by hand like I did, unless you're like me and actually think it's fun to hand sew stays!

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Once the panels are sewn together, fold the excess seam allowance to the wrong side and hem it to the lining.

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Here it is from the right side. Now, when you bind the stays, you're not doing it to finish the edge because it's already finished, but rather binding to finish the edge more nicely and provide a little extra strength at the seams.

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Bind the stays however you like. I used ultrasuede (also on Nicole's recommendation!). I'm afraid to get the truly narrow binding though, it does have to be done by hand. You want to catch the top of the hem more than anything else.


And nice, tiny binding, just like real 18th century stays!