Thursday, December 19, 2013



And now for something a little different! I've gone a little over the edge making macarons lately--not much of a surprise for anyone who knows me! A friend asked if I'd write a tutorial (saying I make things easy to understand, to which, yay!), so here it is.

First, the recipes I've been using. Please visit them for the amounts and good instructions--they taught me what I'm doing!

Salted Caramel Macarons at Cakecrumbs--This is the base recipe I've been using for all but my chocolate macarons. To change things, just add orange or lemon zest, a tablespoon of espresso powder, gingerbread style spices like these at Tartlette, whatever you can think of! I usually halve the salted caramel because I don't like a ton of filling.

Chocolate macarons at Chocoparis--My chocolate recipe! If you're afraid of overmixing your macarons, this is the one for you. The meringue is a very stiff one and takes more mixing than the above recipe.

Whatever base recipe you use, keep using it! Don't switch recipes when you want to try something different, just add whatever it is you want. If a recipe works for you, use it!

Below the jump, a fairly fully photographed macaron making session!

Monday, December 9, 2013

An 1880s Bustle Coat

In early November, my friend Sarah posted about a costumed tour of the Original Governor's Mansion in Montana, and who wants to come? Well, that would be me! Somehow, the stars aligned and it all worked out. And, since there would likely be snow, I, of course, needed a coat to wear with the bustle dress I was making for the event.

This ended up being a remarkably good decision, as one of the days I was in Montana, it was colder than it was in Antarctica. I don't own a coat in the real world, so ended up wearing this one all weekend! It's quite a toasty coat :)

I fell in love with this coat from the Met and used it as my inspiration.

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The coat is made of three layers--lightweight wool from Burnley and Trowbridge, cotton flannel from my local Hancock, and 10mm silk habotai from Dharma Trading.

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Construction is quite straightforward. I flatlined the wool with the cotton flannel, sewed it like any other bodice--right sides to right sides, sew the darts, set in the sleeves, and set in the collar (which is just a straight strip of fabric folded over with a little dart at the center back to give it a curve). Then I made an identical coat in the silk habotai (except without a collar), and put it in the coat, wrong side to wrong side.

I then folded the neck edge of the silk down and whipstitched it to the raw edge of the neckline/collar. Then I hemmed the sleeves by trimming the cotton flannel and folding the wool over the silk and cotton and used a tiny whipstitch that caught just the lining. The bottom hem came next--I hemmed the wool layer and silk layers separately. The wool is hemmed with a a bias facing sewn by machine and a herringbone stitch that just catches the cotton flannel so doesn't show through (like the sleeve, I trimmed the cotton flannel away at the hem fold). The lining is hemmed by machine. I then sewed a placket on. It's just a straight strip of fabric a few inches wide. I sewed it just to the wool, trimmed away excess lining, pressed it into place, and used whipstitches to hold it at the collar and hem, and herringbone down the middle. The coat then closes with hooks and eyes.

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And I of course needed a new muff! A very last minute project, I had been thinking of one, and then Jen Thompson made a faux fur muff which was just incredibly adorable making me want one even more, and Amazon Prime to the rescue, I made one the day before my trip. I used my 18c muff base and my tutorial to make the cover. Really. I used the tutorial. I forgot the easy way I handled the channels on it :)


As for the pattern, I used my standard bustle base pattern which is based on an original I made many years ago and can be seen on my website, here. All I did was add a little ease and lengthen and widen the pieces. Obviously this is shorter than the finished coat. I cut the lining first, continuing to extend the pieces, pinned it together, fixed the hem, and then cut the coat.

In the picture, my bodice pattern pieces are laid on top of the coat pattern pieces. As you can see, except for the center back piece at the waist, which I narrowed during fitting, each piece is just slightly larger than the bodice piece.


And the sleeve pattern. My lower sleeve pattern piece on my base pattern is slightly narrower than the upper sleeve, so I just made them the same width and shaped the bottom.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

About that one hour dress...

I still have plans to make the one hour dress, the fabric is ready and sitting on my shelf with the book, ready to go. However, I had a surprise event come up, and of course I needed a new dress, another new dress, and a coat for that. The 50s and bustle dresses are done, and I started the 1880s coat tonight. More on those soon!

Also, since every post needs a picture, I made macarons for the first time last Wednesday, and I may have a slight obsession-I've made nine batches in the past week and half (salted caramel, chocolate with salted caramel, coffee with salted caramel, orange zest with almond Swiss buttercream, vanilla bean with chocolate and chocolate/salted caramel, lemon zest with almond Swiss buttercream and raspberry jam, gingerbread with Swiss cream cheese buttercream, chocolate with white chocolate ganache and raspberry jam, and coffee with Swiss vanilla buttercream). So here are my coffee macarons with salted caramel filling. So good!


And for the sake of completeness, here are the recipes I used.

Salted Caramel Macarons at Cakecrumbs--I used this as the base for most of them, mixing in a tablespoon of espresso powder to the almonds and powdered sugar for the coffee, and lemon zest and orange zest for those. The only difference was I used the food processor to blend the almonds and powdered sugar and they take about 13 minutes to bake. This recipe includes the tip that I think made me successful--test a little batter on a plate and it should take about 15 seconds for it to smooth out.

Chocolate Macarons at . The only difference was I used two oven temperatures, as above. If it works, right?

Back to our regularly scheduled costumes soon!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Postponing Again

While I am going to make the one hour dress, and soon, I'm postponing again. To make this post somewhat more interesting, here's the I just realized I haven't posted about this dress that I'm probably wearing to work on Halloween. It has good elements for that--it's stereotypically pretty, and is quick to put on and has easy hair--important for the morning!

Princess Alexandra Inspired Dress

It's a blue cotton velvet (the fabric photographs horribly!) with an antique lace collar (very lightly basted on, with a little pocket inside the neckline where the excess lace is tucked!) and net sleeves based on a dress of Princess Alexandra's from 1869. It has a huge train. I've only worn it twice for two rather short times, and it needs to be worn some more.

To pass out candy, of course, will be the Angry Birds dress :)

Sunday, October 20, 2013

A Necessary Postponement...

My one hour dress? I need to put it off another week. Sadly, the cold I got last Saturday is in its final throes, and I just don't have the energy to do it.

So, I leave you with this instead--my in progress bicycle stocking!


It's from an 1890s pattern, and yes, I'll be knitting a sweater and making a green tweed split skirt to go with it. All topped with a straw boater. Doesn't that sound like the perfect costume for LA in August? Next Costume College, that would be :)

Sunday, October 13, 2013

The One Hour Dress--Next Sunday!


My fabric and contrasting bias trim (it is suggested that you buy it--I made it out of Swiss voile, but we'll pretend I bought it!) are ready.

So, Sunday, 20 October, is the planned date. I want to start around 4:30. I'm very excited to make this!

So, watch this link then. It will hopefully be full of dress pictures. I can't wait to see how long or short a time I can do this in :)

Thursday, October 10, 2013

A Knitted Miser's Purse

This is an historically inspired purse. Yes, at first glance it does look like millions of other miser's purses out there; however, I haven't come across one of this style knitted in the round. Crocheted, yes, but knitted? Sadly, no. I wanted to knit a miser's purse of this style though, very much enjoyed doing it, and now I have a pretty thing that I made. Would I love to find a knitted one in the round? Of course! But I won't be broken up if one never appears. There is one fully beaded purse I found that says it's twisted stockinette and appears to be knit in the round, but without seeing it more closely, I don't know if it's what I did for mine. This is also the purse that inspired the leafy design on mine. Knitted miser's purses did exist, but they were knit flat and sewn.

Long story short, I have no documentation. But I do have a pretty purse!

Now that that's out of the way :)


The completed purse! It's made from Purely Silks size E beading cord with size 15 rocailles by Miyuki of Japan. The pattern is essentially the knitted star bag I made earlier, only with six points instead of eight, and obviously much longer! The lacy section in the middle is k2tog, yo, repeat and p2tog, yo, repeat endlessly row after row. I'm a little sad that I didn't look at more patterns (I extended this one from a two row eyelet design on another bag) because the p2tog was rather brutal. But it's pretty, so oh well! The square end is closed with a three needle bind off as described here on Ravelry--post 46 in the thead-- which is a rather brilliant way of doing it.

I used adjustable toe rings for the rings, and they work perfectly. You need something quite small, which I found out when the size 6 rings I ordered didn't work. You also need something that won't catch on the beads and not go on, which attempt number four, small hematite rings did.

I did keep track of everything and will write it as a pattern, including directions on the fringe.


Here's how the purse works. There's a slit in the middle section, which is knit flat instead of in the round. To put something in one end, slide the rings to one side, put something in, slide one ring back, and voila! safely stored things!


And here that is on the other side.

And below are some detail pictures!

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Two 1780s Jackets


At long last, I thought I should share my last two Williamsburg outfits! They're both 1780s jackets. One is based on a brown striped pierrot jacket in the Kyoto Costume Institute, the other is a 1780s version of my 1790s brocade jacket

I have a tutorial for the brown jacket here and have one planned for the blue jacket. The blue jacket, while somewhat differently shaped, follows the construction of the 1790s jacket quite closely.

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I'm wearing the jacket over 1780s stays, two plain petticoats, a bumpad, and a sheer striped petticoat. My wig is the Lacy Alonge. Later in the day, right after seeing a satirical engraving of a woman losing her wig in the wind, mine blew off. It was quite amusing and the timing was perfect. I was only using the combs inside the wig to hold it on, and the hat was pinned to the wig--perfect for picking up a strong breeze!

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The brown silk is from Home Fabrics in the LA garment district. I bought it 6 or 7 years ago. The silk fringe I used to trim it is from eBay, and isn't available as I write this.

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I'm not wearing this styled the way I had planned. I meant it as a day jacket, and was going to wear it with a fichu and wig, but after the wig blew off making me not want to deal with it (I already have hairline induced wig issues. I promise not to bore you with them, and I think I've bored my friends enough!) and I ended up wearing this at night, I became a little lazy! That's ok--I enjoyed wearing it in a more relaxed manner :)

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The jacket is made of a gorgeous silk taffeta brocade with the same flower design as my 1790s jacket, which unfortunately did not really want to work for this jacket. It was a little stiffer than it should've been for the peplum and collar. This is why I decided to leave off the planned trim. Oh well--plain shows the fabric off nicely!

And yes, I'm barefoot. Why I didn't slip on shoes...


A slightly more true to life without the flash picture. And syllabub :)

Friday, October 4, 2013

Coming Soon--A 1924 One Hour Dress!

Although I don't tend to use this blog for upcoming projects or work in progress (see my Live Journal for overkill in that direction), I do want to announce an upcoming project--a one session One Hour dress.

I've thought of doing this for ages--ever since I heard about the 1920s One Hour Dress books--and I'm finally going to do it. I don't think I can do it in an hour (although I admit a secret desire to do just that!), I can certainly do it in one session.

I'm going to blog as I finish each step, as noted in the book. Just a picture and a title at Live Journal (on a tag for the dress), most likely. I don't want to waste time on commentary! Plus, I think posting each step will add to the challenge :)

I have the 1924 book, and I'm planning on following the instructions almost exactly, with just a few exceptions.

1. The skirt is a strange sort of wrap. You sew the front and back skirt to the front and back, sew the kimono sleeved bodice side seams, put the dress on, lift the front of the skirt, pull the back skirt around to the front, pin in place, let the front hang down over it, and pin the cascades made by the falling corners into place. It doesn't have you hem the back edges, which I would like to do. I don't mind raw edges inside--it's often period--but I'm not too thrilled about the idea of raw edges down the center front, even if the front skirt hangs over it.

2. I'm going to bind the sleeves after the side/sleeve seam is sewn. It's much more secure than binding the sleeve edge than sewing the sleeve seam.

3. I want to use self bias binding instead of purchased bias binding, for sadly obvious reasons. I'm sure in 1924 I could find a nice coordinating lightweight bias binding that would go perfectly with my lawn. Today, not so much. I might also sew one side down and hand sew the other side instead of sandwiching the bias on and sewing through both sides at once. I'm fairly quick at that, and it's actually more important to me to have a nice dress than to finish as fast as I can. But if it comes out nicely sewing both sides at once, I'm all for it!

Preparing the self bias alone will probably put me over the one hour mark :)

4. I'm most likely going to hem it. The original uses a selvage, which I'm all for, except, once again, it's not 1924 and there's a good chance my fabric will have something printed on it.

5. I might hand sew the belt because I loathe turning tubes above almost all else.

All of these things seem like logical alterations someone in period would have made, so I don't feel like I'm straying too far from the book.

I bought four yards of this lawn for the dress. This is definitely more than I need! I figured a safety yard was good, and I think I can squeeze out another Grumpy Cat style sundress from the leftovers.

Before I make the dress, I am going to make a partial muslin. I'm highly suspicious of things like the neckline being the same 4 1/2 inches for every size. I'll write down my new measurements though and use those to cut the dress, where with a normal dress, I'd use the muslin as a pattern, so I'll still be making the whole dress from the book.

I'm also going to prepare my fabric first. Wash, iron, figure out just the size it needs to be. The book suggests buying the right width and amount of fabric, so I'm going to pretend that I did.

I wish I could sew this on my 1917 machine, but I still haven't had the tensioner replaced. I'm still so annoyed with myself for snapping the screw. In my defense, the metal was very soft! Electric machines were available though and probably figured into how quickly the dress could be made, so I don't feel bad about using the electric machine :)

I'll post again when I get my fabric (I noticed it's listed as sold out and I haven't received a shipping confirmation, wish me luck!) and decide on a date to do this (most likely a Sunday afternoon). I'm really looking forward to doing this!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

My 1840s Wrappers

What do you do when you've been coughing all summer, did some rather serious damage to your ribs as a result, and have a build your own event and an 1860s ball with a friend (Hi, Sarah!) in Montana and absolutely cannot wear a corset? You make that wrapper you've loved for years and fortunately have the perfect fabric for. And then you make an evening version for the ball out of silk for a Florentine giornea you're never going to make because your other option is twenties. It wasn't an authentic ball, so I felt ok with this option! In other words, wrappers aren't meant for balls. Even silk ones :)

Loads of construction information here--a full tutorial!. So this will be a picture post except for a few small details.

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The day wrapper is pink and green floral stripe from Michael Levine's and partially lined in Egyptian cotton. The evening wrapper is silk from Home Fabrics (both LA Garment District), and partially lined in Egyptian cotton. The day version is entirely hand sewn, the evening has a lot of machine sewing. They took three days a piece, with longer days obviously spent on the day version!

I'm wearing them over a chemise, short petticoat, corded petticoat, and plain petticoat. That's it! Amazingly comfortable.

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It's important to note, they don't fit like dresses. The silk one especially was a little loose in the back. Since the front fits loosely, all back tension is created by pulling it under the belt. Springy silk doesn't do this as well as cotton!

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The side views. You can see the difference in how the fabric drapes.

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I carried my knitted pineapple with the day dress, and the purple knitted star bag with the evening, though I didn't take pictures with it. I did, however, wear the same tiara I wore with the Angry Birds dress. Doesn't everyone wear tiaras with what's essentially a bathrobe? :)

An 1840s Wrapper--A tutorial

A few years ago, I got a copy of Garibaldis, Engageantes & Cages: American Fashions of the Civil War Era, 1840-1870 from the Shippensburg University Fashion Archives (which is very sadly out of print), and ever since, I've wanted to make the absolutely adorable 1840s wrapper in it. After Costume College this year I was suddenly in need of a wrapper, and I had the absolutely perfect pink and green floral striped cotton for it. I documented each step, as it is a rather unusual thing, and here I present a tutorial!


As usual, I started with my 1860s base pattern. The wrapper has a one piece fitted back, two front pieces gathered at the shoulder and loose at the waist, two belt pieces that lace shut over the front pieces, long tight sleeves, and a separate skirt, cartridge pleated in back and flat to the bodice in front. The side seam is left open from underarm to waist. This open seam is covered by the belt.

I've followed the notes with the pattern as closely as possible with a few variations. The original has a hook and eye at the neckline. I closed it with a pin and brooch. I made the sleeves fit so they didn't need a hook and eye, I added a pocket (cell phones you know, mine doesn't fit in my knitted pineapple!), and used eyelets instead of thread covered metal loops for lacing. I also hemmed instead of faced it. Hemming was still done, and it saved time. As I wanted to make two of these in six days, it seemed a reasonable compromise!

Anyway, onto construction!

Wrapper Construction

Here are the pattern pieces laid out. The back is lined, the belt pieces are lined, and the front pieces are left unlined.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Grumpy Cat Sundress

I'm a huge Grumpy Cat fan. I can't look at her picture without smiling. She'd hate that! So when we decided to go to the Huntington before Costume College this year without dressing up (it would be my third trip to the Huntington--I wanted to see it this time!) I needed something that wasn't dressing up, but was dressing up. The idea for the Grumpy Cat sundress was born.

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The dress is made from cotton poplin from Spoonflower. It's lined with blue China silk that I dyed with my 1920s beaded dress, but ended up not using for that project (yay for repurposing!). The bodice is a 1950s McCall's, I think, pattern that I've used several times before. I loaned it out a few years ago, but still have the me sized pattern. I made slight adjustments to the neckline and readded the bust darts. The skirt is a 1951 McCall's pattern that thankfully fit perfectly with no alterations, well, other than shortening it about six inches, so that doesn't count. I had originally planned to use a 1950s Vogue juniors pattern, but the seven inches of ease made me not want to deal with it. It also had a center front skirt seam and I didn't think half Tardar Sauces would look very good up the front of the skirt!

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Construction is very straightforward. Everything is sewn right sides together. The silk lining was sewn separately and then put wrong sides together and bound at the neckline and armscyes. I then added a waistband (hidden by the belt) in cotton, sewed the skirt on, sewed the skirt lining on, and finished the interior with a piece of seam binding. The zipper is set by hand, and I will never set one by machine again. It was so easy, and I love the little spaced backstitches. The skirt is hemmed with seam binding, as this is one of those fabrics that gets visible creases from the iron.

The front of the skirt is one piece, the back is three slightly gored panels. I have to say, I'm very proud of my fabric positioning on this dress!

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And accessories! I have a Pokey the Cat tote (Grumpy Cat's brother) from Society 6, and a No necklace from Etsy. The sunglasses are also from Etsy, and bought for my 1950s faire dress. And what to read while wearing a Grumpy Cat dress! A Grumpy Book, of course!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Then and Now!

I was very disappointed that last time I used my Brownie, we only took one--one!!!--picture with a modern camera at the same time. This time, with the help of Amy and Aubry, this has been fixed!

I thought I'd share a few of the better matched pictures. I did crop the modern ones, but other than that, no editing!

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My dress from faire. Complete with the Kennedy, the Man for the 60s button that I sadly forgot to wear before!

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Slightly different angles, but still a good comparison!

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I just love the fluff :)

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Yes, that's my Grumpy Cat dress. There will be a full post! It is from 50s patterns, and they did use novelty prints in the 50s :)

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And what else should you read when you're wearing a Grumpy Cat dress?

For all the pictures, go to the Flickr photoset!