Wednesday, December 27, 2023

2023--I made things!

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Over the past few years, I've learned that no matter how much I love making things, I just can't do it without an end purpose. After everything that happened and didn't happen, going back to events gave me something I had lost. It was perfect that my first event back was the Jane Austen Evening, which had been my last event. There was such a welcoming symmetry to it.

The return of events has meant so much. Public events have fallen out of fashion with many costumers in favor of private gatherings, but I've always loved public events and still do--the variety and creativity is just amazing. And while every event has its barriers, it's a very good thing that there are events where you buy a ticket and can go instead of an event where you need to know the right people or have the right Instagram aesthetic to get an invitation. Even when I went to private events in what feels like another lifetime now, I recognized what a unique privilege it was, and was thankful that there were costuming events you could do without that privilege. While of course, recognizing and being thankful that I had that particular privilege to attend public events too!

So, the costumes! In 2023 I made a handknit bathing suit from the 1920s, a copy of a Lanvin robe de style, a Mucha inspired dress, a sweater from a 1919 pattern and a hat and skirt to go with it, a sequined cape to go with my 1930s Melisandre dress, and a cotton print Regency dress. (The cape picture is by Mark Edwards, who did an amazing job as the Costume College photographer.)

In addition to what I made, I wore a few things I made over the last few years--a Cersei dress, knitted 1921 dress, plaid 1910s dress, my 1920s Cersei inspired robe de style, my pink handmaiden dress, and a 1920s Halloween cat dress--that I hadn't worn before or only took a few pictures of.

I'm generally not a year in review, mark anniversary type, but this year felt worthy of it, I think.

Friday, June 23, 2023

What I Wore to Costume Con 39!

Cersei Red and Gold Cersei Red and Gold

Costume Con 39 took place in San Jose, California in April 2023, after a two year delay. Despite not costuming a lot during the pandemic and the usual time sneaking up before an event, I think I managed to pull together a good wardrobe for the con! New, somewhat new, new accessories, and rewearing things worked well.

On Friday, I wore the Cersei dress from season 1 of Game of Thones that I started for WonderCon 2020. I meant to do the version with the weird hairstye and crown, and would still like to, but ended up doing the more relaxed version of the dress. I started the dress in January 2020 and finished it in October 2022. It's not an exact reproduction, but rather what I thought I'd make if I were given the concept art. I had a lot of fun with it--especially embroidering the sleeves!

Handmaiden Handmaiden Handmaiden

On Friday night, I wore my Game of Thones handmaiden dress. Full details here! I love this style and have also made an unblogged one in black and silver.

1921 Knit Dress 1921 Knit Dress

On Saturday, I wore a dress I knit from a 1921 pattern in the Bear Brand Blue Book #35. I followed the pattern exactly using Jaggerspun Maine Line 2/8 yarn and US size 8/5mm needles. I have a sample of Peace Dale 1920s yarns, and their Shetland Floss, which the pattern calls for and was a description used by many brands in the 1920s, is a 2 ply fingering weight. It's remarkably similar to the Maine Line yarn (as is Knit Picks Pallette and Jamieson and Smith 2 ply jumper weight, which I've used for other 20s and 30s sweaters). The knitting is quite loose, but it does match the gauge called for and the look of the dress in the pattern book.

And the dress in motion! It's wonderfully bouncy

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For dinner on Saturday night, we went to the Orchestria Palm Court, which is a late 1910s/early 1920s themed restaurant. I wore the 1920s robe de style based on Cersei's season 7 dragon pit dress. It's based on period examples, but the center is actually screen accurate fabric from the show. The back is my favorite part--beads to imitate the spine on her coat.

1921 Bathing Suit 1921 Bathing Suit

On Sunday, I wore my 1921 knit bathing suit from The Lady Fair Yarn Book and published on the Vintage Traveler blog. I've since worn this to the beach and have much better pictures than me squinting at the pool! The pattern as written is interesting--with instructions like "for right side of front, knit to correspond to right side of back." I knit the right side of the front to match the left! I think someone made the suit and wrote down what they did without proofreading it. I made a few changes, but I don't think anything someone knitting in the 20s wouldn't have done, such as decreasing the waist so it was smaller than the bust. It's made of Jaggerspun Maine Line 3/8 yarn on US size 5/3.5mm needles. I would like to do a full blog post on this--including my revised pattern.

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For the historical masquerade, I wore the 1930s Melisandre dress I wore to the Costume College gala in 2019. I made a matching cape from a vintage pattern. The dress and cape are silk satin and about 32,000 sequins.

And the dress in motion to capture the sparkle!

So, that's Costume Con, wardrobe wise, at least! As Evil Ted, one of the guests said during his panel, he expected that he'd get so much done during the pandemic, but just didn't, because of the loss of community. I went through so many false starts and false hopes about making things, and am so thankful that I discovered how much I love 1920s knitting, but I did feel the loss of wanting to make things, and seeing the people that made making things worth it. Costume Con was a wonderful return to that community. It was so amazing to see so many friends that I hadn't seen since 2018 or 2019. Even though many of us have grown closer online, it's just not the same as being together.

Sunday, February 5, 2023

A Black and Red Print Dress for the Huntingtion


Finally, another event! My last (though you couldn't necessarily tell from my blog...) was the 2020 Jane Austen Evening in Pasadena, with our traditional trip to the Huntington Gardens and Library before the dance. Clearly, I needed a new dress! I had started embroidering a dress in 2021, but it's been set aside since 2021. Even though my favorite part of costuming has always been making costumes, I'm also the type of person who needs a reason to make a dress. Taking pictures isn't enough. I've knit (mostly c 1920s sweaters), restarted knitting projects, had many false starts, two dresses for Halloween (one for work, and the other (unusually) just for pictures), and made a few small things (everything but the skirt to go with my 1919 sweater), but haven't had a true deadline since 2020. I wanted to make two dresses for the Jane Austen Evening, but had procrastinated on the 1922 sweater that I was working on and wanted to finish in 2022. I finished that minutes before midnight on New Year's Eve, but it did delay the start of this dress! I still would have had time for two, but wanted to enjoy making it. I decided that I'd rather have a new dress for the Huntington than the dance, so wore my black embroidered dress from 2018 in the evening. I'm very happy I wore an old dress since I just watched the ball instead of danced. I usually try to dance all the easy dances, but this year was different.

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Onto the dress! It's made of block print cotton from The Block Prints on Etsy. My chemissette is ramie voile from Burnley and Trowbridge. It's lined in linen and sewn by hand. This may be the first dress I've made that I didn't take pictures of while I made it, but the costruction is similar to my Regency Leia dress. Since this dress has a curved neckline and that dress has a square neckline, I sewed the shoulder strap on after the front piece. The linen flaps pin in front and the dress closes with drawstrings.

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The Huntington is beautiful, and I'm so happy we had more time to explore than usual. The bridge in the Japanese gardens was a lovely backdrop! My shawl is silk gauze edged with rayon ribbon that I dyed--both from Dharma Trading.

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Another bridge--in the Chinese gardens--made another lovely backdrop. Not everything was blooming in January, but some of the trees had the prettiest pink flowers. My skirt has no shaping--it's just straight panels. I usually make gored skirts for this style, but lost track of time. Suddenly, the event was in a few days. I really do like the shape of it though, and think it worked well with the slightly fussy bodice!

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The sleeeves on the dress are inspired by my fashion plate, which has a petal sleeve over a white puffed sleeve. After working on the sleeve for three days, I switched and made straight sleeves inspired by the puffed sleeves. They looked right, but I don't like puffed sleeves very much. The sleeve is two layers. The cotton voile has a layer of pleating applied under the slit. The black fabric was cut with a scallop and then I cut it from the scallop to the top of the sleeve and hemmed it with a narrow hem. The penguin is Arthur. His Instagram is @penguins_wear_clothes and this was his first vacation.


The fashion plate I used as inspiration. Despite not liking puffed sleeves, they (and the ruffle) drew me to the dress. When I switched to straight sleeves, I was tried to make it so it was still obvious that it was inspired by this sleeve.

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My dress for the ball--including one taken by my friend @journeyofaphotog in better light in 2018! This dress is pleated over a linen base and is basically made the same way as my diamond back 1790s dress.

Sunday, February 7, 2021

A 1920s "Two Day" Sweater...

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I made this sweater almost by accident. I bought the c. 1921 Bear Brand Blue Book on Etsy and found a few patterns in it I wanted to make. They called for Shetland Floss, so naturally I wanted to find out more about it.  I do have a sample of it from Peace Dale Yarns, which I wrote about here, but was interested to see if I could find any from Bear Brand, details about the weight, or how much yardage was on a skein.  Instead, I came across The Diane Sweater in an ad for Fleisher's Yarn in the April 1921 Ladies' Home Journal that claimed it only took a day and a half to make.  While I knew that it would take longer--it took about a month--it gave me an actual reason to make something and consistently work on it--something I haven't been able to do since all events were cancelled--as they should've been--this year. 

I took these pictures by myself with a tripod, and so look forward to when we can get together again. 

My version of the pattern can be found here. I've rewritten it and fixed a few of the errors in the original pattern. 

Making the 1920s "Two Day" Sweater

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An ad for a sweater using Fleisher Yarns, The Diane Sweater was published in The Ladies’ Home Journal in April 1921. The sweater calls for Shetland Floss, which is about a modern fingering weight. Based on similar patterns, the gauge is five stitches an inch--this isn’t what you expect from fingering weight, but I achieved it with size 8 needles when I was figuring out another pattern. I made my sweater with sport weight yarn on size 6 needles, which also gives 5 stitches an inch. The fit of the sweater counts on the stretchiness of the finished sweater--no size is given.

The sweater is knit in one T shaped piece, starting at the back with added cuffs, collar, and belt. It’s folded at the shoulder, the side seams are sewn, and the belt is sewn to the bottom front edge and tied in back. My notes and changes to the pattern are in brackets. [ ]

This post is just about construction--more pictures and details can be found on this post. I've included a copy of the pattern without pictures at the end of this post, and a PDF is available here.

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Tintype Photography Revisited

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One of the limits you think of with tintype photography is going to the studio. Except, that doesn't have to be--the Victorian Photo Studio can take a tintype of a digital photo. All the things I love about tintypes are evident--the color shifts, the changes in emphasis, the different expressions--and are so obvious because they're copies of photos, not just the closest you can get with a camera while taking a tintype, which a group of friends and I did during our trip in 2017.

Sunday, September 20, 2020

What I Would've Worn to Costume College 2020

1830s Melisandre 1

So, 2020 has turned out, uh, not exactly as planned? Still, I did have plans for Costume College, and I did a photoshoot the weekend that Costume College was supposed to be with what I had done. For the gala this year, inspired by last year's gala dress, typos, and the fire fountain at Costume College, I was going to make an 1830s version of Melisandre. I still hope to--bringing in fantasy elements, beyond what 1830s fancy dress would've done--is something I'm looking forward to.