Monday, June 13, 2011

Waaaay Too Much Time on My Hands

Today's time waster.

Yeah. I know, I should really step away from the computer, and up to the sewing machine.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Feeling Silly

After cleaning the kitchen, doing the laundry and vacuuming the house, I was feeling a bit punchy.  What you see below is the result.  Is it ridiculous?  Yes!  But that's what comes of lack of sleep and too much housework before breakfast.

All the photos are from
Music is Masquerade from Phantom of the Opera

Monday, June 6, 2011

Life Happens

and all the important stuff like sewing and read inspirational blogs comes to a screeching halt.  Now that life is starting to be a bit nicer, (still some family stuff that needs to be sorted, and the house looks like a 9 year old bomb went off) I'm trying to get caught up on the important stuff.  I have plans to get back to work on the stripey Victorian.  The blouse pattern still needs to be lengthened and a new mock up sewn, then it's on to the bodice.

In the meantime, I've been drooling over a new to me site of the most gorgeous extant clothing for sale. It was posted to the Greater Bay Area Costumers Guild yahoo list a couple days ago and I haven't stopped drooling on my keyboard since! (Well, there was that 3 hour period in which the husband was using the computer and picked up a wicked virus that the good folks at Dell had to spend 2 hours scrubbing from the hard drive.  Yikes!)  So many pretties, so little time!  This red silk regency is especially of interest to me.

Take a look at the bib front and it's lining.
                                 1800-1810 silk bib front
I'm certainly no expert in this area, but the bib front frocks I'm acquainted with have the more typical side front closing lining. It also has bust darts.  Yay!

A pair of these soft wrap stays would be a great thing to have too.  Not needing a lot of support could be a good thing for a change.
                              1810-1820 soft wrap stays

Looking at the back I can't decide whether the upside down L shaped bit is a separate piece or a facing.  I'm leaning toward facing. But the right side looks like it could have a seam on my monitor.  I can't get a clear enough enlargement to be positive, but based on the description, I think I'd interpret it as a facing.

I'm also deeply in love with this 1870's striped bustle.  Check out the back.
                                         1870's bustle
I lovelovelove, the solid color back panel!  and the sleeves!!!!
                                           1870's bustle

Alright, enough computer time for me.  The laundry bell went off an hour ago, and is still waiting for my attention.  And I'm assuming my child would like dinner sometime tonight.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Unusual personal post

I've been going through some family stuff lately that has kept me away from my sewing and the internets. My mother has been ill, and we lost a family member yesterday.  I hope the next week or two will herald a return to some sense of normalcy and the sewing machine.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Skirting The Issue

Skirts. Unassuming things, usually quite easy to put together and fit. This one went together like it was supposed to, but the fitting..... well not so easy. Totally my fault, and I learned a valuable lesson. Never draft when you're feeling like you're more plushly upholstered than you are!

Pattern specifics. Self drafted in cm using instructions found in Fashions of the Gilded Age. This is a very basic natural form skirt. Slim fitting in the front and through the hips, with all the fullness in back. Very easy to draft. The thing is, when you're feeling fluffy, you have a tendancey to exaggerate curves. Like the waist curve. And the hip curve. See what I mean?

When you put such a pronounced curve around a fairly slim waist, the fabric has an uncontrollable urge to creep above the waistline. Add to that too full hip curves and you get unsightly hip bubbles.

No good. Plus, in the trying on I managed to stretch the waistline, making it even bigger! Oi! Lesson number 2, always stay stitch your waistline. Lesson number 3, mock ups are your friends!
Now, at this point I know what you must be thinking, just unpick the seams and flatten this curves. Which would be a great idea if I hadn't already clipped those curves.
To fix all this, I flattened out the waist curve a little. This of course made it even bigger! Which meant I had to pleat 22" of back panel into 2 1/2" of waistband. While I wouldn't call it pretty, it is in. Hopefully the tonure/drappery/overskirt will disguise that.

Mostly fixed front.


All that fabric jammed in under the big pleat.

Side view.

It still needs a hem, and waist closure. The hem will wait until I get the bodice and overskirt cut out. Having only 7+ yards of this fabric puts the brakes on my side pleated ruffles until I see what's left.

Next up, blouse. A mock up or two is definitely in my future.

Happy sewing.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Ruffle My Tail Feathers

As promised, on to the petticoat. The pattern for this came from Fashions of the Gilded Age, by Frances Grimble. A side note, I love these books! I can spend hours hunched over them, planning and dreaming of all the pretties that are possible using the patterns before me. *Le sigh*
Anyway, back to the business at hand.

The petti as it's visualized in Fashions.

There are a few ways I scale patterns. I sometimes used the small scale drawings as a reference for draping, and in the rare case, I can use my modern block to work with flat pattern techniques. I also scale up using the apportioning scales contained in Fashions or regular units of measure, depending on what the pattern calls for. If the original is in 1/4 or 1/8 scale is will use one of two methods. I'll either transfer the small scale pattern to graph paper, add plotting points, and draft up per usual, or I use my overhead projector to enlarge it to the correct measurements.
This particular pattern is drafted in cm. (Even though we measure ininches here in the States, I always draft in cm. It's much more accurate.) After all the drafting was done, I started on the sewing.
I wanted a pretty petti, so in keeping with the pink and white theme started with the corset I used my machine to add scalloped edges and decorative eyelet stitching to each starched ruffle.

It took forever! But it was so worth the effort. The pattern itself went together like a dream, who could ask for more?


Back. You can see the yarn I used to gather the ruffles hanging down on the sides. I do wish I had made the ruffles aTbit fuller.


Next up, the skirt.

Happy sewing!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Underneath it all

Underpinnings were of course necessary for the natural form dress. This forced me to finally finish the corset I drafted about 3 years ago using the yourwardobeunlock'd tutorial. The drafting part was fairly straight forward, the sewing was not at all complicated, the fitting was a nightmare!
I've made a pair of stays, but this was insane for me. I couldn't get the bust shaping right, and while the corset is done, it's still not right.

You can see the lines around the bust here. I think I'll try gussets on the next one I make. But at least the gap is even!

Construction details: 8 panels, 2 layers of cotton twill with 2 -1/4" spiral steels on each seam. 2 -1/2" flats on either side of the lacing holes. And speaking of lacing holes.....

I took a different tack with these. My machine has a functional eyelet stitch, but it's small and you have to punch and home to open it up. This is not something I wanted to do. However, I did use the stitch to give myself a guide for the hand work. I'm happy with the results. These are the most even eyelets I have ever made. With the right thread, (which this is not. Too loosely spun) and a little more practice I think I can get them close to perfect.

To make it a bit prettier, I bound it in pink and added a cute little lace to the top edge.

In my next post, I'll cover the petticoat.

Happy sewing!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Introduction post

Fashions of the Gilded Age vol. 1st see link at bottom of page.

I have just discovered what a thriving and fun filled place blogger has become for costumers and tatters!  So many talented people willing to share their successes and learning opportunities with the world.  And so much fabulousity!  For that I thank you all!

I've had an lj blog for a few years,  and intend to keep it, (great people there too!), but do to evolving interests, I thought I'd give blogger a go as well.

So, hello blogger! I'm a thirty mumble year old kids who loves to play dress up with my daughter.  So to feed the need, I learned to sew.  My first attempt, while not a disaster exactly, was not all I hoped it would be. Let's just say poly satin and beginning sewers don't mix.  Through a mixture of trial and error, and eventually a few sewing and patterning classes, I've graduated from beginner to improver.  I make most of my own patterns these days, but need to work on my fitting.  In a desire to not make things too small, they always end up a smidge too big.  Also, I've learned never to draft on a frumpy day.  Curves wind up being way to curvy. 

Historical costumes are my love.  Not only are they oohhhh so much more elegant than the lazy clothes of today,  but they help me to understand the social roles of women of the past.  The shaping of the female body is a good indicator of the roles we have played.  The simple elegant styles of the Regency period, reflect the more liberal attitudes of the time.  After hundreds of years of tight fitting stays and heavy fabrics,  to have the option of going without those stays must have been a very free feeling indeed!

More recently, I have picked up tatting.  It's something I've always been fascinated by,  and decided to give it a try.  Run and rewarding!  The ultimate take along project.  In an effort to get my current project finished, I've had to hide my shuttles,  but I can't wait to get back to it.

Anyhow,  I am looking forward to learning from this community and drooling over all the pretties.

The current project is this lovely natural form corselet and blouse from Fashions of the Gilded Age, by Frances Grimble.  And a skirt to go with.