Sunday, December 29, 2013

Walking Skirt

The holidays are almost over and I have all kinds of ideas in my head of what to make. Part of me wants to start sewing some stuff for my 'real' wardrobe, but I've lost a great deal of weight and plan on losing a little more so I want to wait so I can make things that are more fitted  I want to make some new stays and I want to work on my 18th century court dress and so on, and so on.

One of the things that has occurred to me as I began this process is, although I do want to make some pretty pretty princess things, I also like the idea of "who would I be if I lived then?" What would I wear as a real person. I also find a lot of great shirts that I would like to make into shirtwaists, so I'm going super basic. I'm making myself a walking skirt. I have about six yards of cotton twill which will be perfect. At some point, I will start using some of the pattern books I own, like Janet Arnold, but as I'm learning, I need premade patterns to begin from.
guess which one I'm making?
I picked this pattern, because it has the skirt pattern in two lengths and the shirtwaist pattern. The skirt seems pretty straight forward so far. Its 7 gores with a kick pleat in the back. Its only been straight seams so far, I'll let you know how it goes when I get to the anything funky.

I don't have a single event to wear this to, but I think it will get plenty of use in the future since it's a very practical skirt.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Costume College Help

I am thrilled to be attending Costume College this year. I am so excited to meet some of my blogging inspirations and learn new skills. I'm applying for a scholarship and I have an essay and photos ready, but I have a bit of a snag. I need a recommendation from a member of one of the following guilds:
Costumers Guild West
San Diego Costume Guild


Somewhere in Time Unlimited

The problem is, I haven't been doing this long enough to know anyone in these guilds. So if anyone is out there (helloooooo) reading my blog, who is a member of one of these groups and would be willing to help me out, please shoot me an email.
Thank you! Tracey

Monday, December 16, 2013

Post Dicken's Fair Blues

We had a great time yesterday, despite the fact that I was up til 4pm sewing the bodice and I wore my boots for the first time and they pinched my feet. Since my guy has a very small car and my costume has a very big skirt, I didn't get completely dressed until we got to the parking lot.
Note evil plastic markdown boots from Ross
I was literally putting my headdress together in the parking lot. I'm not sure if I got a very good picture of it. I wanted it waay more elaborate but I ran out of time.
See the green stripe down the front? That's because at 3am I realized I had no hooks and eyes (not that I could find anyway. So, I made it work and cut buttons and buttonholes off a green silk blouse I had. It looked fine, but not particularly historical or finished.
oooh, are these Tavistock boots?
I think I underestimated my need to stand out in a crowd. Difficult at the best of times at Dickens, but especially hard in what reads as beige. I think next year I'm going to have to go bigger and more colorful.
Thanks for the photo Nedy
All in all, we had a great, if exhausting time. Ken picked up some fabulous men's fashion accoutrement. I spend all my money on booze. I wish there was a vendor there that specialized in historical fabrics and notions and such. I would probably have bought something. I didn't really want to buy any costume pieces since I'm learning to sew them myself.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Teasing pictures of Dickens outfit

First of all, since everyone seems to have pictures of their cat sitting on their fabric, I present my dog snuggling with mine. I apologise for the partial shots. My mirror is very narrow.
That's Amos. He is a good boy.
After about twenty minutes of struggling, I finally managed to get my corset on by myself. I took it in, but its still too big. Essentially, even with the back laces meeting completely,  it's still my same waist size.
On the upside, the steel spiral boning make it super comfortable. I wore it most of the day so I wouldn't have to struggle into it when I tried on my skirt.
I found a really poofy bridal underskirt that gives the right silhouette. So it's going to have to do for now until I can make my own ruffled petticoat.
I don't even want to KNOW what's it's made of
I did make a regular petticoat. It's just three one yard panels make from a sheet and cartridge pleated to the wastband.
And then the skirt. Also cartridge pleated.
It's poufier than it looks in the mirror.
I really love cartridgle pleats. They add zero bulk to the waist, so you can wear several layers and they look nice.
Not shown, the three times the pleats came out before I realized I was using my thin decorative cotton thread istead of my super sturdy buttonhole thread.
Using plaid fabric really helped with the spacing of the pleats.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Here's the corset

This is a picture of it on my mannequin instead of on me. I decided that 45 minutes of  struggling to get it on myself at one in the morning was quite enough torture for one day. I need a ladies maid. So it's in need of a press and I may add some crochet lace, but at this point I won't have anything to wear over it if I don't get started on the dress.
My mannequin doesn't quite have my hips or boobs, so I'm hoping some of this wrinkling with smooth out when it's actually on my body.
The back will be laced a little better too. The lacing will be a bit looser on my boobs and my hips and a bit tighter on the waist.
If you look closely, you can see I skipped a grommet. I did measure, but somehow I got off just enough that there is one more hole on the left than on the right. Oh well, another lesson learned for next time.

American Duchess Shoe Giveaway

23 skidoo spectator shoes
Paper Mothball Vintage is having a shoe giveaway with American Duchess shows. I want them....badly.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Some Corset Photos

I'm almost done with the corset. Just some fiddly bits left. I had a few issues. First of all, since I've lost a bunch of weight, the corset was too big. I thought it was fine when I did the fitting, but I think I picked a larger bust size than I needed. I don't think my brain has actually caught up with me. I did a kind of ad hoc fix, and just took it in an inch on each back side. It'll work, I'll know better next time.
I did do another row of topstitching so it looks a bit more like another boning channel
Also, the inside was really ugly. If I was using a machine, I think that just using the two layers of coutil for the boning channels would have looked okay, but since I used backstitching, it just looked ugly.
So, I decided to cover it up and I used some cotton fabric and just whipstitched them on.
The outside isn't great either because the thread I used to sew the pieces together was too dark and shows through in some places. But since the whole thing will be under my clothes, I'm not altogether unhappy with it. My stitches aren't superduper neat, but I don't look like a monkey did it either.
By the way. Handsewing the corset the way I did it is not very fun

Okay, I swear by tomorrow, I'll have finished corset pictures.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Some of my favorite (handsewing) things

While you are all still waiting with bated breath for corset pictures. I'll give you my own little unfinished list of favorite sewing tools. I would love to hear about yours in the comments. I'm always looking for things to make my life easier.

1. Wonder Clips. These handy little clips can hold multiple pieces of fabric together without pinning. You can clip fabric to your cutting board when cutting bias strips. They hold very firmly. They also come in a larger size.

2. Flower Head Pins These are nice and long and flexible. So they hold multiple layers well and are nice for hold cartridge pleats in place.
3. Flexible Rubber Thimble I actually have a couple of different sizes. They are not uncomfortable, I sometimes forget they are on and they save me from hurtng myself. They also make it easier to push through heavy cloth.
4. Kiss Off  stain remover. I bleed all over everything. No matter how many thimbles I wear, stabby, stab, stab, stab. So this stuff takes it off like magic.
5. See Thru Dressmakers Ruler 
Simplify your life. This makes it easier to draw straight lines when handstitching corset channels or any other topstitching.
Those are just some little things. There are lots of other things; iron, ironing board, etc.  but these little beauties are some of my favorites.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Lark Rise to Candleford

I'm so happy when I find a show I like and I'm only on Season 1. My new show to sew to is Lark Rise to Candleford. Not to be confused with Cranford with Judi Dench (which I also love). Lark Rise takes place in the 1890's in Oxfordshire. It takes place in Larkrise, which is a country Hamlet and Candleford, which is a small town expanding with the times.
The narrator is Laura Timmens, a poor girl from the hamlet, who goes to stay with her mother's cousin Dorcus, the owner of the Candleford post office. This show does what BBC costume shows do best, pathos. Laughing through tears, crying or just plain laughing. It's nice from a costuming standpoint because there are different social strata represented, from the workhouse girl to the country squire. It also stars some old favorites. Brendan Coyle:
Hellloooooo Mr. Bates
Julia Sawalha:
Saffron Darling, Saffron Sweetheart
and Ben Miles:
Patrick from the British "Coupling" not to be confused with the horrible US show of the same name.
I can't tell you if anything horrible happens because Im  only on Season 1, but if you have Amazon Prime you can watch it streaming for free.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

18th Century Insanity

I'm still busily handsewing the boning channels on my corset, so I don't have anything to show you there. I have picked up another challenge though. This ones not due until Costume College 2014, which is the last weekend in July. Demode Couture is having an 18th Century Court Ensembles project. Those of us participating will wear it for the Costume Gala at Costume College. Think super wide skirts here. Marie Antoinette on steroids.
I was trying to find a parody, but they are so big that I parody would be redundant
 Since I don't really want to negotiate such a huge skirt, I decided to go earlier in the century and make a mantua. The stomacher is missing, so I will pretty much have to make that up, but that will be fun to research.
I'm insane, but I won't be hand embroidering this thing

I just have to keep my eye open for some kind of bedspread or curtains or upholstery fabric that mimics this. I can always add more googaws

Monday, November 25, 2013

Dicken's Corset or OW! my thumbs are killing me

Spring Green Linen for the fashion fabric
I have been sewing my poor fingers to the bone all day on my corset for Dickens. I do enjoy hand sewing, but sewing through 2 layers of cotil and a layer of linen, is really tough on my thumb.This is my first corset, but I'm using Jennifer Rosbrugh's Historical Sewing Victorian Corset Sewing Workbook and following it step by step. It really helps take the mystery out of it.
It's a lot greener than this in person
I'm getting better at the little stitches, but its hard not to get a little wonky. The linen weave helps though.
bad flash photo
I'm proud of how well the busk came out, it wasn't as tricky as I thought it would be.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

City of Vice

I love to sew by hand, and I love to have costume dramas or sewing shows playing on tv while I'm doing it. They vary in historical accuracy of course, but I watch them all. I discovered a new one the other day; City of Vice.
This man wrote Tom Jones, do not throw your panties at him
The setting is London during the reign of George II, and tells the story of Henry Fielding (of Tom Jones, book, not singer) and his brother, and of their quest to start London's first police force. The show is historically accurate as much as possible, using Old Bailey Sessions papers and memoirs of the period. It's very gritty. Sort of like Law and Order: SVU meets the History Channel.
come for the beautiful costumes, stay anyway
It's set mostly in the poor parts of the city, so not as many pretty pretty costumes as I like, but the show itself is very good. We do get to go into a brothel at one point and they had nice clothes, but the storyline is not for the faint of heart.
Sex swing of the18th century

Friday, November 22, 2013

Dicken's Fair Dress

I bought some fabric for my outfit for the Dicken's fair, but it turns out that it wouldn't be historically correct to make up a plain skirt and a plaid bodice as I was planning. I got very lucky though. I found a $100 cotton plaid on sale at Joanne's for $2.99 a yard.
A little dreary, but I think it will look good with the pattern I'm using
I'm going to use the Truly Victorian Pattern TV456: 1856 Gathered Dress. Which has recieved good reviews.
I think the gathered fan front will be more flattering on my generous bosom, than a high necked fitted bodice.

I got free shipping, so I have to wait 7-10 business days for the fabric. I'll just make all the other parts of my costume first (including a corset. Ack!) and then whip that baby right up.This will also fit in nicely for the Historical Sew Fortnightly Challenge #26: Celebrate!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Historical Sew Fortnightly Challenge #24: Re-do

For my Historical Sew Fortnightly Challenge #24: Re-Do I decided to do the Challenge #3: Under-it-all.

Here are my first pair of crotchless drawers. Ooh la la. I made them for Dickens Fair, and they'll be hidden under at least two petticoats and a skirt, so they aren't really very sexy. They were historically for convenience purposes, and will be so again while negotiating porta potties at the fair.
Don't you want me baby
Another sheet bites the dust in the name of fashion
They have a drawstring waistband and are made from 100% Cotton.They have little pintucks on the legs. I'm practicing my straight stitching and getting better, but it's a work in progress.
Good thing this will be UNDER wear

Doncha wish your girlfriend was hot like me.
The Challenge: #24 Re-Do or #3 Under it All
Fabric: cotton
Pattern: Laughing Moon #100, Ladies Victorian Underwear 1840-1900
Year: 1840
Notions: Cotton Thread, Cotton Cording
How historically accurate is it? I did everything by hand and it's all natural materials. If the pattern is historically accurate then it's at least 95%
Hours to complete:24 hours , the pintucks and the self bias binding added time to the mix
First worn: Just parading around my house making my daughter laugh
Total cost: Cording 25 cents, sheet $1 . So $1.25

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Dicken's Fair is calling

Okay, now that the prohibition pub crawl is done, it's time to start getting ready for Dicken's Fair. I need to make; a corset, a chemise and drawers, two petticoats, a skirt, a blouse and a jacket. All by hand. Luckily Dickens runs through December 22nd. So we will go, when I get the outfit ready. I've decided I need to be really organized if I'm going to pull this off, so I started by putting my pattern in order. I also have one leg of the drawers finished. I'm off and running.
Keep patterns in order by using a binder with page protectors.

The pages of directions are put int the binder so they can be read like a book.

All the pieces for each part of pattern are kept together in a page protector.

Since this is a muslin mockup, I marked each piece in the seam allowance.