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Making a Plaid Dress, 1860s, Part Three

This blog post is really overdue. Usually I’m a few weeks, or even months late when it comes to blogging about projects but in this case i’m years late. This project was originally completed in November 2014! I never got around to writing about it and I have no idea why.

This past November I fixed it up, made a matching headpiece, and got photos of the project. So now seems like an appropriate time to finally write about it. If you would like to read about making the bodice there is a blog post about that here, and a blog post about making the sleeves here!

Usually skirts from this period would be cut from gored panels. Because gored panels create full skirts with less material at the waist, and require less fabric to make. Win-win all around.

But doing that requires sewing certain seams on a the diagonal, and that wouldn’t look very nice on the linear plaid material that I was working with. So I decided to make a simple rectangle skirt from three 48″ by 55″ panels. These got pinned together with the wrong sides of the fabric facing each other.

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I was very careful to make sure everything lined up perfectly. Then I sewed a half inch away from the raw edge, trimmed the seam allowance down to 1/4″ and folded the fabric so the right sides were facing each other and the raw edge was hidden.

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To make sure the plaid pattern would line up perfectly I used basting stitches instead of pins to secure everything.

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Then I sewed a half inch away from the edge, again, to create a french seam. Once ironed everything looked pretty good! Not perfect, unfortunately, but it was close(ish)…

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I folded the bottom edge inward by a half inch and basted it in place.

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Then folded it inward by an inch so the raw edge was hidden.

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And stitched across the top edge with a cross stitch!

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I marked the pleat placement across the top edge. This skirt was knife pleated (the easiest and prettiest type, in my opinion). Two thirds of the pleats go in one direction, and one third in the other direction.

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Once the pleats are marked it’s just a matter of playing connect the dots (or lines, I guess)!

I pinned them in place.

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And put it on my dress form to see how it looked. At the time I was really happy with it, now I feel otherwise. How did I think that level of volume was okay for this period? It looks so sad!

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But on the positive side of things, I really like how the pleats look!

After pleating everything I sewed across the top edge and did up the back seam (with a french seam). As per usual I left the top eight or so inches open and folded the raw edge inward twice, then secured it with whip stitches. This opening lets me get in and out of the skirt.

Since I didn’t want the petticoats to be visible through the portion of the skirt left open, I used snaps sewn onto each side to hold it closed.

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I did a terrible job documenting this part of the process but the next step was making the waistband. I cut out a strip of plaid material and interfaced it, then folded over all the edges.

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I made piping from bias cut strips of matching green fabric, flannel (as lining), and cording. I don’t have photos of the piping but I do have photos of the raw materials which is probably not super helpful.

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Then I sewed the piping around each edge of the waistband and sewed the waistband onto the skirt with whip stitches.  I covered the raw edges of the waistband interior and the top edge of the skirt with cotton lining, which was also sewn in with whip stitches.

This wasn’t the best decision. The thickness of this fabric (especially when pleated!) added a lot of bulk to the waistband. The top edge should have been finished separately and folded down, so it sits below the waistline and adds volume to the skirt instead of adding extra inches to the waistline.

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I sewed a button hole into one side of the waistband, and sewed a button onto the other. With that done the skirt was finished!

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Here is what it looked like worn, over a bunch of random petticoats and with the cotton sateen corset I made to go with it.

The skirt is so…meh

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This November, when the fall colors were in full swing I decided I wanted more photos of this project. Which required fixing the skirt problem.

Which meant I needed to find something to make it fuller. I don’t have a round hoop skirt or elliptical hoop skirt that would be appropriate for this period, but I DO have a spanish farthingale which is kind of similar. To make the shape of it a little nicer I folded a petticoat in half and safety pinned it to the back of the farthingale.

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Then tossed a cotton/tulle petticoat over the whole thing to round it out. It’s a little lumpy, but it definitely has the appropriate level of volume.

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And my skirt had enough volume to sit nicely over the petticoat without disrupting the pleats! All I had to do was re-hem it to suit the new shape. This involved raising the front by almost three inches, and the sides by an inch.

Another change was sewing three snaps into the back of the waistband, which line up with three snaps sewn onto the back of the bodice. This weighs down the back of the bodice so it doesn’t move when I raise my arms, and prevents the skirt from “sinking” and showing the bottom edge of the bodice.

As a side note, I love the silhouette this petticoat and farthingale combination gives. It’s a little flat at the bottom since the top petticoat isn’t long enough, but other than that I think it’s great. I’m so pleased that i’m now planning on using it underneath another mid 19th century gown, all i’ll have to do is make a more appropriate, ruffly petticoat to go overtop!

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I also decided to make a headpiece to match the project. I didn’t want to make a full bonnet, but I really liked the look of this partial bonnet. Though I didn’t have proper materials for that, so I combined the shape with the sheer/open appearance of this evening cap from the same period.

I made my pattern out of newsprint.

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Then cut it out of felt weight interfacing. I tried it on at this point and realized I made it way too big – I had to take it in by three inches!

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I closed the opening and sewed wire to the interfacing so it became shapeable.

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Then I got to decide on materials. I chose to use the matching green material (which was used to pipe the waistband) and a bit of vintage lace.

I ended up using a half yard of crochet lace in a deep beige color and a stained lace trimmed mesh collar in the same shade.

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I covered the opening with the lace. Then I removed the binding from the collar (and the stains), gathered it slightly, and sewed it onto the top edge. This creates a bit of texture, and a ruffle, which is something this costume was really lacking!

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I covered the interfacing with one inch wide strips of bias tape, which were made from the green fabric. I left the tails of the bias tape really long so I could use them as ties for the bonnet, which will keep it in place when worn.

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The edges of the bias tape were whip stitched together and then it was done!

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Here is the project all together!

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And here it is when worn!

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Look at how much that side profile has improved thanks to the petticoat switch!

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I’m very pleased with how this whole ensemble turned out in the end, even though it took a while to get there!

I’ll do my best to edit the rest of the photos we took in November and have those up soon…but no promises!

Thanks for reading!

 

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Making a Mantle & Long Tailed Hood

It’s taken me a while to get this post out but I think i’m finally ready to get back into the swing of things with twice a week updates. And i’m starting by blogging about the cloak/capelet/mantle which is the final piece in my Cotehardie ensemble. You can read about making the cotehardie here, and I also have a post about making the matching shoes and leggings, which can be read here.

This mantle also has a liripipe, which is a long tailed hood. They look a bit ridiculous, but I kind of love them. It was my first time making anything like this, and also my first time attempting dagged edges. So lots of new experiences were involved in making this project!

The first step was creating a pattern. This would have been really easy to flat draft, but I chose to drape it on my dress form and trimmed the fabric until I liked the length and shape. I copied the pattern onto paper and added seam allowances.

Then I created the dagged edge pattern. First I drew out an arrow shape, then I cut it out of bristol board (a very thick paper) which gave me a template. I placed the template on the hemline of the cloak and traced around it ten times, until the arrow pattern was repeated all the way across. The finished pattern looked like this!

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I traced my pattern onto the lining fabric I purchased for this project – which is a stiff quilters cotton.  I chose this fabric since wanted a sturdy material that wouldn’t slide around or fray much, since the seam allowance will be trimmed quite small at points. The only one I could find in the color I wanted has a glittery spray on it and a star print to it…which probably isn’t historically accurate, but it’s super pretty!

In case it wasn’t obvious, I designed this pattern so I could cut it on the fabrics fold so I don’t have to have a seam at the front.

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I roughly (as in, with more than an inch of excess at each edge) cut out the cotton lining and my top layer of fabric (which is a heavy wool coating).

Then I pinned them together. I used a lot of pins across the dagged edge to make sure neither of the fabrics would move when I sewed them.

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In hindsight, I probably should have used safety pins instead of straight pins, since I pricked myself a lot. 

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Now this part should have been pretty straight forward. All I had to do was sew around the lines I had drawn on the fabric. Shouldn’t be that hard.

Apparently my sewing machine thought differently. It decided it wasn’t going to sew curved lines. I changed the needle, adjusted the tension, tried different threads. All sorts of things, but it still refused to stitch any part of the dagged edge properly.

So each arch is made up of lots of choppy straight lines, instead of being beautiful curved ones. I think the thickness of the fabric goofed my machine up which is why it gave me so much trouble. Luckily the heavy weight of this material hides the wonky stitches, and by some miracle all the curves were pretty smooth when I turned everything the right way out.

Once I finally finished sewing the hem I trimmed the edges down between one quarter and one eighth of an inch. Then I snipped the tips of each arrow and the arches between each one, so they would turn over nicely.

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I used a pen and tweezers to help turn everything the right way out.

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Then added more pins to keep everything in place while I moved onto the next step.

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That step involved tacking the wool to the lining, then stitching around  each edge with embroidery floss. I like how the floss looks around the edge, but i’m disappointed that the tacking created such visible divots in the wool.

The stitches aren’t actually visible from the front side of the fabric yet they are still very obvious. There isn’t much I can do about it now, but i’ll keep this in mind for the next time I work with coating fabrics.

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With that done the cloak portion was mostly finished. So I moved on to drafting the collar piece and hood. To help me visualize the hood a bit better I used this pattern as a guide – and by that I mean I drew out something that looked kind of similar based off of measurements I took.

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Then I cut out the collar from blue wool.

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I did up the back seam and sewed a half inch away from each edge to create guidelines for where the edge gets turned under. I turned the edges over by hand and secured them with a running stitch.

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Unfortunately i’m missing a few photos here, but the process should make sense without them. The next step was sewing up the shoulder seam/darts on the cloak, which I did by machine. I also sewed up the back edge, but that was done by hand.

Then I sewed the bottom edge of the collar onto the cloak with a slip stitch. I made sure the opening of the collar lined up with the center front of the cloak, and the seam lined up with the back seam of the cloak.

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And I sewed bias tape over the raw edge where I trimmed the excess fabric from the shoulder darts.

(“shoulder darts” sounds a lot more exciting and dangerous than they actually are)

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Now time for the hood/liripipe!

I didn’t make a mock up so I decided to start by cutting out the lining layer. This way I could get an idea of the shape before potentially ruining the remaining wool fabric. Once I placed my pattern on the fabric and drew out the seam allowances I realized the tail was kind of tiny. Not nearly as dramatic as I like things. So I made it bigger.

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Here are the lining pieces cut out and pinned. I sewed the edges together with half inch seam allowances and did a little test fitting. I was pretty happy with the end result so I moved forward with the wool layer.

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Since my paper pattern was now inaccurate I used the lining as a pattern for the wool layer. Before sewing the edges I marked the turn over point at the front of the hood. The raw edge will be turned inward by more than an inch to create a facing of sorts.

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Here the hood is, turned the right way out with the front edge turned inward.

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I tucked the lining into the top layer of the hood, then whipstitched it in place an inch away from the front edge of the hood. This way the lining isn’t too visible when the hood is worn.

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Then the hood got sewn onto the collar.

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And lining was sewn into the interior of the collar so none of those ugly raw edges are visible from the inside.

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The front closes with three small buttons and loops. The buttons are the same ones used on the Cotehardie, and the loops are made from some cheap twine I bought from Michaels.

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As cool as this hood looks, it’s not very practical. It really didn’t want to stay on my head, since it isn’t very deep. I didn’t want to be constantly fiddling with it so I added a plastic comb on the interior of the lining. This isn’t noticeably when it’s worn (whether the hood is up or down) and makes it way easier to wear.

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And that’s it!

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Here is the finished piece worn with the rest of the ensemble!


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And one without the mantle, but with the crown I made!

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Now I guess I should get to work on the matching ladies ensemble!

Thanks for reading!

 

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Fabric Haul & Future Plans, January 2016

Here is the promised fabric haul! And I have to warn you, it’s pretty gigantic.

The majority is from the NYC Garment District.  I went there the week before Christmas and spent all of my Christmas money (and then some) on fabric. After I got home I went on a little etsy shopping spree with some of my youtube earnings, and the week after that I placed an online order for some sewing supplies I ran out of. So the pile of purchases continued to grow for a while there – but i’m done now! Officially on a no-buy until I finish a few projects.

Speaking of that in addition to this being a haul it’s also going to be a peak into what projects i’m planning for the next few months. I have sketches to share along with heaps of reference photos, which is part of the reason this post will be so long.

I went into the Garment District armed with a half dozen swatch cards and a huge list. I was mainly shopping for four ensembles: A 1890s afternoon dress and coat. A more casual 1890s ensemble that consists of a hat, skirt, and shirtwaist. An Edwardian evening gown. And a short 1920s evening dress. I was also shopping for plain fabrics that would work for the foundation garments to go under them.

Here are my swatch cards for the three most exciting dresses~

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And my massive heap of fabric I got to gaze at on Christmas morning.

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I promise there are lots of pretty fabrics to share but i’m going to leave those to the end. We’ll start with the ones I bought for foundation garments, since those will be the base for all these dresses.

Here is my stack of lightweight cotton fabrics (and shantung!) which I bought with that purpose in mind.

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One of my favorites shops (Fabric for Less) is going out of business. That really sucks since i’ll miss visiting their store, but it worked in my favor on this trip since they were having a big closing sale in an attempt to move as much stock as possible.

They had two cotton fabrics which I fell in love with. I’d looked at similar fabrics in other shops but they were all too thick or too expensive. I was almost ready to give up and use muslin instead when I came across these! The first one has an eyelet pattern and light striping across it. It’s pure white and has a slightly gauzy/sheer texture to it which I love since it won’t add bulk under dresses.

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This was three dollars a yard. I bought eight yards at first, then asked for another three yards since I liked it so much. This will be used for the chemise, bloomers, petticoat, and maybe the top layer of a corset.

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From the same shop I got four yards of a similar fabric. It was the same price, weight, and color, but has a different pattern to it. I really like this one – I think i’ll use it to make a blouse/shirtwaist for the 1890s ensemble.

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And also from the same store I got shantung! This was three dollars as well and I plan to use it for the petticoat. It has a stiffness to it which creates very full ruffles, which is exactly what I want. This will likely be used for one of the corsets as well.

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I should probably share a sketch of what I have in mind for the underthings, but i’m not sure how accurate this sketch will end up being. I am going to be making a chemise, two corsets, bloomers, and a petticoat. But the construction and appearance of those things is something I haven’t settled on just yet.

I’m likely going to base the chemise off this one from the Metropolitan Museum archives. But I really like the more traditional frilly ones as well, so i’m torn. The Met has some good bloomer references as well, which I might follow.

I wanted to make the petticoat with three tiers (as shown below) but two tiered ones are more accurate, so i’ll probably do that instead.

For corsets i’ll be making one with a very cinched waist and flat front below the waist (as opposed to the bulge below the tummy which was fashionable in the 1870s). And a longer one with a straighter silhouette that can be worn with dresses from the first quarter of the 20th century.

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With those in mind i’ve bought some trims! As you can probably tell, i’ve decided on a pink and white theme.

The middle trim is one I already had, I believe it was given to me by my grandmother. The embroidered one is from etsy, the ribbon is from onlinefabricstore.net, and the woven one is from Joanns. I think these will really dress up the foundation garments and add that frilly lovelyness that was so common at that time.

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The last of the “boring” things were from online shopping adventures. I got steel boning for the corsets, heavy weight buckram, ribbon, and twill tape from onlinefabricstore.net. The muslin is for mock ups and lining, and that’s from Joann’s. The busk is from CorsetMoment on etsy. I’m really pleased with all these purchases, though you won’t end up seeing any of them in the finished pieces!

Speaking of onlinefabricstore, I usually highly recommend them but this order was a huge mess. I made it on December 29th. Part of my order shipped out on January 1st and I received it a few days later. A week after ordering I got an email saying two of the items were backordered and wouldn’t ship until January 11th. Now it’s the 18th and though the shipping label has been created, my order hasn’t shipped. Really frustrating!

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Onto fun stuff! This is the project I put most of my Christmas money towards. It’s an evening gown from the early 1900s, which was inspired by the first few seasons of Downton Abbey. I spent days browsing pinterest for references and inspiration before compiling ideas from a bunch of the dresses I liked into this sketch.

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I want the focus to be on the bodice and hem, with elaborate beading and lace on all the edges. If i’m feeling brave I might attempt beaded feathers across the hem, like these ones.

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My first task was finding elaborate lace. The shop I planned to buy from refused to go lower than $55/yard for the lace I was interested in, and that was way too much. So I went into a shop I’d never visited before, called Fabric Express and ended up falling in love with this black and grey lace.

All the beads are metal and glass so it’s very heavy. The embroidery is filled with metallic silver threads, and it has symmetrical borders on each edge of the lace, which can be fussy cut out and used as trim. The lace is almost fifty inches wide and packed with beautiful beaded appliques. I’m so in love with this fabric, I can’t even tell you. The depth of it doesn’t capture very well on camera which is a shame since it’s one of the most gorgeous fabrics i’ve ever seen!

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This still cost more than I wanted to spend – at $30something dollars a yard it’s the most expensive cut of fabric i’ve ever bought, but since I had Christmas money I decided to put it towards something I really loved and wouldn’t usually buy.

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To go underneath that I picked up some silk shantung in a greyish cream color. This was from the store that was closing so it was very well priced for silk – I think $7 a yard or so, which is cheaper than i’ve ever seen it before. This has a lovely sheen to it and texture. It’s heavy enough to support the weight of the lace, but still light enough to drape beautifully.

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On the downside… It’s really badly water damaged. Somehow I didn’t notice this despite watching the shop owner roll out and cut the fabric right in front of me. The damage has horribly stained almost eighteen inches of the fabric all across the yardage I purchased. Which makes the usable width only forty inches. I don’t think it was a bad deal, considering forty inch wide silk of this quality usually costs more than seven dollars a yard.

But it’s not what I thought I was paying for. And I’m not sure i’ll have enough fabric to use this as the base for the dress. I’m hoping I can wash the damaged portion and hide it in the bodice or train of the skirt, underneath an overlay which will hide the color difference. But i’m not sure that will work, and i’m really annoyed by the whole situation!

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For the overlay on this dress I got seven yards of english net. This has a similar texture to tulle, but is more durable and less prone to tearing. It’s what lace is backed on, and is often used for veils. I had an awful time finding this in stores, everyone though I meant stretch net (used in athletic wear) or tulle. Luckily one guy had an unopened bolt of the stuff in black, which I grabbed up!

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This is the opacity it has. Very similar to tulle, just has a tighter weave and a bit of stretch to it.

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To embellish this dress I got lots of beads and sequins. I’m planning on using some vintage blue/black sequins a reader sent me as the main embellishment for this piece, since they are the only thing I can imagine being pretty enough to pair with this lace.

But I wanted to try a few different colors and sizes, so I got a large bag of faceted ones that shift between gold/black and two small bags of flat blue ones…which I thought were black when I bought them. I’m not sure either of these will match, but i’m going to try to use them and see how it goes.

The beads are from a shop whose name I can’t remember, but it’s near Beads World. I got a large bag of glass bungle beads, and a bag of glass seed beads that are dark grey. These definitely match and will be used generously all over the dress.

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The next project is an afternoon dress from the 1890s. It’s going to have huge sleeves and a matching hat. Most of my references for this were fashion plates and pictures from vintage Harper’s Bazaar magazines which were a gift from my Great Aunt.

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For this I wanted a fabric that was stiff enough to keep it’s shape – it needs to be to support the massive sleeves and pleated skirt. I also wanted the fabric to be cheap, since I needed eight yards. A fabric that falls into both of those categories is polyester taffeta, so that’s what I went with!

I got this from Hamed Fabrics – I think they have the best selection of taffeta, but Amin Fabric is good as well. This was priced at four dollars a yard and I love it. The color is amazing. It’s purple but has a pink/grey shift to it depending on the lighting. Here it looks like it’s all one tone.

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But when it’s gathered slightly and the sun hits it, it really shines. I think the amount of depth this has makes it look a lot more expensive than it is, which I appreciate!

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For the buttons I bought the cheapest metal ones that Daytona trims. I spent almost as much money on the buttons as I did on the dress fabric, which was painful. I can’t remember how many I needed (I know I got more than a dozen), but I paid $24 for the bunch of them.

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Since this dress has a lower neckline i’ll be putting a partial blouse underneath it. I’m planning on making it like a corset cover, so it will be sleeveless and tie at the waist. This means it won’t add any bulk to my silhouette, which I appreciate! This was from Fabric Express and is a bit stiffer than the other cottons I got. Other than that it’s quite similar – it is partially sheer and has a subtle print to it.

And it’s white but i’m planning on tea staining it to an ivory shade.

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Though the dress on its own should be quite pretty, it’s going to be paired with a cloak…coat…thing. I’m using advertisements from the late 1800s as reference, but it’ll be based off the one Edith wears in Crimson Peaks since i’m obsessed with it.

Finding fabric for this was a challenge. I wanted something that was heavier than a suiting, but lighter than a coating. I found a few ones that looked promising, but they were all more than $10 a yard, which was more than I wanted to pay since I needed so much of it.

I finally found what I wanted in Amin Fabrics – I didn’t even know they sold suitings, but they had a selection of them in the weight I needed hidden on the top of a pile (and by pile I mean wall of fabric – if I were any shorter I wouldn’t have been able to reach them, and i’m pretty tall!).

It’s a beige color, which isn’t very exciting.

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But it has a nice weight to it which should lay nicely over the dress, while still being light enough to gather into puffed sleeves without becoming too bulky. It isn’t sheer, but i’m worried the dark color of the dress might be visible through it, which wouldn’t look good. So I may have to line it. I have some beige taffeta laying around that I can use for that if that becomes an issue.

The best part about this fabric is that the nine yards of it cost $68! Which is amazing for such a nice heavy suiting.

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For the piping, bows, and hat I got two yards of velvet in this rich raspberry/dark fuchsia/ mulberry color. I really love this color and I think it looks nice with the taffeta I purchased (even though they don’t really match).  This is from Zahra Fabrics.

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My other 1890s ensemble is pretty simple by comparison. It will consist of a cotton shirtwaist (I showed the fabric for that earlier) and a velvet skirt, with a matching hat. I like simple ensembles sometimes, and I like making separate pieces. I think this will make a very nice side project, and be quite pretty as a finished outfit.

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The velvet is from Fabric for Less, the shop that was going out of business. I bought what was left, which is about six yards, and I think it was five dollars a yard. It looks linty as all get out because it’s velvet…that’s what velvet does.

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The last project on my list is a 1920s evening dress in the famous flapper style. I don’t care for the silhouette of these (I know it will be really unflattering on me) but i’ve wanted to make one for ages since they are so different than anything i’ve made before.

Unfortunately I didn’t do a lot of research before shopping for this project. I realize now that I prefer the hand beaded dresses instead of ones made out of lace appliques. And the base fabric I purchased is way too stiff. These dresses don’t hang properly unless they are made from slinky materials (the opposite of what I bought).

I don’t think i’ll be able to make the delicate beaded dress that I dreamed out of the materials I got, so I may have to rethink this project until my next trip to the Garment District.

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The lace for this project is from Fabric Express. It’s in a very pretty dusty rose/peachy color – quite similar to lace I bought for my birthday earlier in the year. The pattern is floral, with very wide borders at each edge and lots of appliques.

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The beads are glass, and in a milky pink color. This lace is packed with beautiful copper colored sequins that really make the pattern pop.

Once again i’m a bit in awe that i’m in possession of such a pretty fabric! Everything about it is gorgeous and I feel very lucky to own it.

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This is the stiff fabric I got to go underneath it. My reasoning for buying this material is that it would be easy to bead and could support the weight of beading. But it doesn’t have the right level of movement and was a really poor choice for this project.

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For the sash and skirt I got two yards of english net and four yards of chiffon. The chiffon looked like it matched really well in the store, but once I brought it home I realized it was too cool toned in color. So yet another fabric setback!

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I only bought two trims on this trip (I managed to restrain myself for once). One is peachy colored pleated ribbon, which I plan on using to decorate the foundation garments. And the other is a really pretty organza based beaded lace, which I think will pair nicely with the fabric I have for a 1860s ball gown.

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For hats I picked up some feathers. I wish I had bought a few more of these large ones but I wasn’t sure what colors to buy, so I held off and  only bought two. They are both in this purple taupe color, and they are massive! So floaty and wonderful!

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Then I got two little bunches of two tone feathers. I’ve never seen anything like these before, they shift between two colors and are gorgeous. I bought a bundle of purple/green ones and green/black ones.

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The last things are all for my 1890s dress/coat ensemble. I got a couple ribbon flowers and a fabric flower to decorate the hat.  I’m not a huge fan of how these look, but I wanted to get something and these were the cheapest ones they had ($2 a piece). The only reason I bought these at all is because I was worried I wouldn’t be able to find millinery flowers online.

I feel like millinery supplies are really overprice in the Garment District. Some of the fabric flowers were $12-$15 each despite being in poor condition and not the best quality. In future i’ll only buy feathers in those shops, and get my flowers online or from Michaels.

Speaking of feathers, I got more two tone ones! Though these don’t shift between two colors, they have more of a gradient to them. One bunch is purple and the other bunch is brown. I don’t think the brown ones match these fabrics very well, so i’ll likely pair it with some plaid material I got from Joanns.

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That’s IT for things I bought in NYC! Here are some things I got online to compliment those purchases…

The first things are flowers! I made three flower orders, the main one was from SquishnChips on etsy. They have an amazing variety of flowers and they are all so pretty. I’m really happy with my purchases from them and would definitely order again.

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I got some from Dames A La Mode and 32NorthSupplies as well. These ones are very nice, and arrived quickly, but it’s cheaper to buy through sellers outside of the US (like Squish) and the selection was much better from them, so i’m not sure if  would repurchase these.

They are all being stored in pretty pink floral printed box, and it makes me really happy!

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From PrettyLaceShop I ordered some chantilly eyelash trim. I’m thrilled with this purchase, it was really cheap (three dollars for three yards!), is wonderfully soft, and has a gorgeous pattern. It also arrived really quickly. I would definitely order more, just to have it around in the future.

This is to trim the top edge of a corset.

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This one is from the same seller and also to trim a corset. It’s also very pretty and well made.

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From LaceTrimWholesalers I got five meters of this mesh based embroidered trim. This is for the shirtwaist i’m making to go with the velvet skirt. I looked at a lot of trims similar to this, but eventually chose this one since I loved the details in the edging!

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This shop is also where I got the embroidered pink trim for the foundation garments. This one is really pretty, it’s embroidered with rayon threads that have a nice sheen to them and the pattern is really delicate.

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And the last purchase was this trim. I’d hoped this would match the purple taffeta I bought, so I could use it on that project. It doesn’t (not even close) but I don’t even care because it’s really pretty. And i’m sure i’ll find a use for it some day!

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That’s it!  This was huge and I have no plans to buy anything in the near future because of this. This is probably enough to keep me busy for a good long while. And I can’t wait to get started, because I’m really excited to work with all of these fabrics and to begin work on my new projects for this year!

Thanks for reading – a new The Making of Post should be up later in the week! :)

*edit put 2015 in the title by mistake and fixed it. OOPS.

 
21 Comments

Posted by on January 18, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

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A look back on 2015

I’m a little late with writing this – but not as late as I was last year! So hopefully that counts for something!

Like the title of this post implies, this is going to be a look back on what I made in 2015. I’m going to share my thoughts on each project, my goals for 2016, and my feelings towards this year as a whole. And it’s probably going to be a long one since I made a lot of stuff!

Project wise this year was kind of weird. I don’t mean to be a downer, but i’m not very happy with what I accomplished this year. Not because of how many things I made – I finished more than twenty projects and the majority have multiple pieces, which I think is pretty respectable. But I didn’t enjoy working on a lot of the projects I finished.

When I started off this year I had a plan, and I was determined to stick to it. I had several big elaborate projects I wanted to work on and figured i’d make easy fashion projects in between. Those fashion projects didn’t end up being easy, I actually found them to be really time consuming and draining to work on. But I had the materials for them and they were part of my plan so I kept making them – even though I didn’t enjoy them at all.

That led to rut of sorts, where I didn’t want to work on anything. Especially the really elaborate projects I had originally planned. The enthusiasm for them wasn’t there at all, which is why I only finished one of the three projects I had planned at the beginning of 2015.

Luckily I did get back into the swing of things after a shopping trip to the garment district in October. I picked up materials for a slew of medieval projects which really restored my enthusiasm towards sewing. So I managed to finish the year on a high note, and i’m feeling very inspired and excited about my projects for 2016!

But before talking about those projects, it’s time to look back on 2015…

January: 

In January I started working on the underthings for my Tudor project, which involved making A Pair of Bodies and a Chemise.

But my first project of the year was a cotton sateen polonaise circa 1790, which was intended to be worn over a embroidered satin gown. I finished the dress but the polonaise is currently living in my bin of death and I don’t think it will ever get finished. I could not for the life of me get this thing to fit and eventually gave up due to frustration. Quite sad – in it’s early stages I really liked how it was coming along!

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I did manage to successfully finish one project that month, and that’s my Silvery Blue Dress which is inspired by a gown in the show Galavant. I like how this turned out a lot, and I would like to expand this ensemble by making a cloak to go with it.

It’s also worth mentioning that this is the first of many blue dresses I made in 2015. More than a third of my projects this year were blue!

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February: 

I continued making Tudor underthings and managed to finish the Farthingale. Alongside that I made the Tudor Kirtle. This is one of my favorite pieces from the year. There was a lot of trial and error involved since I wasn’t very familiar with the silhouettes from that period. That made it quite challenging, but also very enjoyable since I had to get creative. I’m also really pleased with the beading on this dress, it was my first time doing such an elaborate pattern and really inspired me to include more beadwork in my future projects.

My next project was a three piece ensemble which I titled the “Fluffy Feathered Dress” which was inspired by Marchesa dresses. I like how this turned out, and I enjoyed parts of the process. I used a lot of sequins and lace on the bodice to create a variety of textures, which was fun. The rest of the dress was kind of boring to work on by comparison.

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March: 

At this point I became frustrated with my tudor project, so I decided to make a dress from materials I had around. This project ended up being titled the “Pleated Navy Gown“. I enjoyed the process of making this a lot. It was very quick, I made it in less than a week and I think it’s one of the most visually impressive things I made this year. I love the fabrics and the drape of the sleeve.

But this dress isn’t perfect. The bodice is really thick at points, and since it isn’t boned it doesn’t sit very nicely on my body. I need to figure out some way of fixing that before properly photographing this project.

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April: 

I started work on the foundation garments for my 18th century ensemble and managed to finish the Half Boned Stays and Chemise. I realize now that the stays are too big and the fabric for the chemise was way too thick, so both need to be remade in the future. That’s kind of a bummer, but at least i’ll know for next time.

This was also the beginning of my Cinderella dresses from hell, though at this point I only had the Petticoat finished. I think these were the main reason I became so frustrated and uninspired. These were very time consuming, not very enjoyable, and seemed to fight me at every turn. I really wish I had given up on these dresses and moved onto something else instead of working through the misery to finish them.

A project I like more is my Orchid Inspired Dress, which I made from materials I got during my birthday in the middle of the month. This project had it’s ups and downs but for the most part I enjoyed working on it, and I like how it turned out. Though as always, i’d do some things differently next time!

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May: 

I finished one of my Cinderella Dresses but my happiness towards that was overshadowed by my struggles to complete the second dress in the series.

I did manage to figure out the bodice of my Tudor Project, which was great. I was also working pretty intensely on my 18th century dress. I made a set of pocket hoops, the bodice, and dyed the lace for the skirt. Unfortunately that was the last time I worked on that project, and though it isn’t abandoned, I haven’t made any effort to finish it.

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June: 

I finished my Tudor Project this month, which was a huge accomplishment for me. The final pieces include two necklaces, a french hood, foresleeves, and lace cuffs. I have mixed feelings about this project – I love all the detail work put into it, and how the pieces work together, but I don’t think it was completely successful. There are little fit issues here and there and the level of mobility is really bad.

I think my expectations for this project were higher than what it ended up being, which is why I don’t feel completely happy with it. But I am proud of it! I think it’s the most elaborate thing i’ve ever made.

I also FINALLY finished the second Cinderella dress. Thank goodness. This turned out better than I had expected but I hated working on it, so that soured the end result for me.

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July:

This was my favorite month project wise. I got so much done and I love everything that I made.

After months of on/off work I finished a Brown Menswear Ensemble. I made the pants for these in January, the shirt in March, and the hat in July. Those pieces were simple compared to the doublet (which was made in November 2014) but weren’t a big priority of mine, so they took a while to finish. I like how this turned out a lot, I think it’s cute!

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I made my favorite project of the year this month, and that’s my Heinrich Inspired Dress (along with two matching headpieces). I adore everything about this, I don’t think I have a single bad thing to say! It was really fun to make and I think the end result is gorgeous.

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Another one of my favorites is this Taffeta Ensemble based off a portrait of Ana De Mendoza. The dress, hat, and chemise were all made in the same month. I really enjoyed making this. The hat and dress bodice especially. Everything went so smoothly! And I’d never made a hat like this before, so completing it really motivated me to attempt more elaborate headpieces.

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August: 

August was less successful. I had a lot of things in progress throughout the month – including an elaborate mermaid inspired gown which I ended up putting on hiatus. I also started work on my Damask Print Medieval dress, which was fun at first but turned quite frustrating at the end.

I managed to finish three projects. The most successful of the bunch is a Regency Dress and Bonnet made from floral curtains and cotton sateen. I liked this project but I didn’t feel very excited about it while working on it, it was just something to pass the time. And looking back at it I still don’t feel very excited about it! I think it’s cute but needs some alterations before I’ll feel comfortable photographing it.

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The other project I didn’t enjoy very much at all…it was messy, and boring, and quite frustrating at times since I was allergic to all the materials. But I managed to complete my Forest Sprite project. I also made a quick dress in five hours from curtains which was fun, I’ve called that my Ikea Curtain Dress.

September: 

This month my main priority was a Black Lace Dress, which I wore to my Uncle’s wedding. This project ended up being frustrating at times, but I think it turned out very pretty!

I also kept working on my damask print dress, and I made two skirts. One was a plain circle skirt, and the other is a ruffly horsehair skirt. Both were the subjects for youtube tutorials so I never blogged about them.

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October: 

I managed to finish my Damask Print Medieval Dress this month, and a pair of PJ’s inspired by Toothless! I really dislike how the Medieval dress turned out but I think the Toothless PJs are pretty cute!

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With that finished all my “commitments” for the year were done. I didn’t need to create projects for youtube content and most of my WIP’s were complete or abandoned, so I could start fresh! This is when my enthusiasm really came back and I got back to creating projects I really love.

The first of those projects was a Medieval Escoffin and matching Dress. I love this project. It was so much fun to make and I think the end result is quite stunning, and different from everything i’ve made before. I’m very pleased with it!

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November: 

I didn’t finish any projects this month, but I made a lot of progress on various pieces. One of those pieces was a Medieval Cotehardie. I also made a headpiece to go along with a Civil War Era Dress, a medieval hennin, chiffon chemise, and a gold brocade kirtle. I really like how all of these pieces turned out, though I haven’t blogged about any of them yet!

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This month I also began work on a 1630s dress, an 18th century riding coat, medieval mantle, lace chemise,  long toed shoes, and a Burgundian Dress.

December: 

I had a massive to-do list for December. I didn’t accomplish everything on it, but it still ended up being a very productive month. I finished my Burgundian Dress and Medieval Menswear Inspired ensemble, both of which i’m very happy with.

These two projects rank highly on my list of favorites for the year. I really like how all pieces come together to make something interesting and elegant. And since I was constantly working on a new piece of each project I stayed really enthusiastic, which let me pack way more hours of time and detail work into each element.

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And of course I finished my Christmas Project! Which I ended up being surprisingly happy with as well.

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It’s worth mentioning that a good portion of this month was spent beading a riding coat which isn’t finished yet, but is coming along quite nicely. I spent the week between Christmas and New Years Day working on this like crazy. So much beading!

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Now for the fun part – what’s next! I’ll actually have a blog post all about the fabrics I bought with my Christmas money, and what I plan on doing with them. So I won’t talk too much about my future plans, but I did want to share my goals. My goal is actually pretty vague – i’m a bit worried to commit to anything in particular, since that let me into a creative ditch last year!

But my main goal for this year  is to improve my general knowledge of historical fashion, and learn more hand sewing and fabric manipulation techniques.

I like reading and I like learning, but I like sewing more. So I don’t put a lot of effort into research or new techniques unless it’s related to a specific project. And I want to change that. I own a lot of really great reference materials that I look through when i’m stuck on something, but I haven’t read many of them cover-to-cover. And I definitely haven’t practiced all the techniques that are detailed in some of the books.

There are some really basic techniques, like blanket stitching or smocking that I don’t know how to do, since i’ve never had a project that requires them. This year i’m going to try and push myself to learn and practice those techniques, even if they are only used to create a sampler.

I think if I took a few hours each week to read through my reference books i’d have a more well rounded skill set and knowledge of historical fashion. Right now what I know is pretty limited to european fashion from the 15/19th centuries. And even that is a little spotty. I’m interested in learning more, and I have the books around to do so, I just need to take the time to read them!

As for project plans, mine are very loose because I never seem to be able to stick to the solid plans I make, and this year I don’t want to, I want to work on what I feel enthusiastic about and go with the flow. But I do have a few things I would like to accomplish and that includes:

-A draped gown. Probably inspired by the statues from the Metropolitan Museum of art that I was fascinated by. I have the fabric for this (ten yards of satin faced red chiffon).

-An 18th Century Project. I’d be happy just to finish the one I have in progress! But I have fabric for a turque and chemise a la reiene so the possibilities are endless.

-A 20th Century Project. More on this in my next post, since I picked up fabric for this on a recent NYC shopping trip!

-A Regency dress. I’ve made a few of these but don’t love any of them, maybe i’ll get one right this year.

-A big ball gown. Probably a Civil War Era evening dress – potentially made out of pink cotton sateen and lace that i’ve had forever.

-Something Tailored. Maybe a women’s suit? A riding ensemble? I’m not sure what.

Of course there are many more things i’d like to make. Another menswear inspired project is on my list for this year, and I want to make a women’s cotehardie very soon. I also have four projects I purchased fabric for over Christmas, which will keep me busy for the first half of this year. But I can’t list all my ideas, there are simply too many to share!

Also I think i’m going to, for the most part, be doing more of the same this year. I’m hoping to get more of my projects photographed, and take on a wider variety of silhouettes and era so my portfolio has a little more variety. But I think my blogging schedule will stay the same if not more frequent.

And that’s it! This post is massive so I’ll end it here. I hope you enjoyed my blog throughout 2015 and that you continue to enjoy it throughout the new year. And of course, I hope your year is off to a good start!

Thanks for reading!

 
21 Comments

Posted by on January 13, 2016 in Progress Report, Uncategorized

 

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Making a pair of Long Toed Shoes / 14th Century Inspired

This post is about making a pair of shoes. Yup. That is a thing that I decided to do. I don’t know if I can really call them shoes, since they have the flexibility and appearance of slippers, but they were supposed to be shoes. And I don’t think they look too bad considering this is my first attempt at making a pair!

I needed shoes to wear with my Cotehardie ensemble (post about making the cotehardie is here). I looked around online and couldn’t find ones in my price range. Even the really inaccurate, modern boots from DSW were double what I wanted to spend. So I decided to make a pair from wool I had leftover from making the mantle (post about that should be up soon).

Before getting into this I feel I should mention that I had no idea what I was going. And that I know nothing about making shoes. I didn’t spend a lot of (read: any) time researching what the process should be. I made it up as I went along.

But I did find a really amazing resource for medieval footwear! This is the site. I didn’t read through their construction guide, or use any of their patterns, but found the images very helpful. It was a fantastic starting point for figuring out what my boots should look like. I ended up combing the Side Lacing Boot and the Peaked Shoe.

Now onto materials!

For the soles of the shoes I used some embossed pleather from my stash and the cheapest shoe inserts I could find at target. The blue fabric is leftover heavy wool coating. I ended up using some spandex, wool suiting, and embroidery floss as well but those things aren’t pictured.

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For the pattern drafting process I used newsprint, cardboard, tape, and a plastic bag.

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To figure out the shape of the sole I traced the outline of my foot onto the cardboard. Then I made the end super pointy. According to this article, in the 1300s the point was usually only extended by 10% of the foots length. But I have big feet. And I always stay away from pointed toe shoes since they make my already large feet look like clown feet.

And I didn’t want that to happen here. So I decided to make the point really long with hopes that it would look very exaggerated, instead of making my feet look huge. I think it worked. Kind of.

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I cut out the sole pattern and traced it onto the fake leather.

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And onto my cushion soles that I bought from target. Unfortunately these weren’t big enough to accommodate the pointy toe.

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To combat that I fused felt weight interfacing onto the tip of the fake pleather, so the point would keep it’s shape.

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All that was set aside for a bit while I focused on making the shoe pattern. The first step in doing this was taping the cardboard sole pattern onto the bottom of my foot. Then I taped crumpled plastic bags overtop of it so the exaggerated toe had to some shape to it instead of being completely flat.

Then another plastic bag went over my entire foot and I wrapped painters tape around everything until I had the shape I wanted.

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I marked a seam line around the ankle, the centerline, where the sole ended, and the side line where I wanted the lacing to be. I also drew the shape I wanted the top of the shoe have. Then I cut the bag off my leg, fixed up the wonky guidelines, and cut it into two pieces.

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I traced that onto paper and bam, a pattern! The only major change was that I added seam allowances.

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I cut the shoes out from wool and sewed the pieces together.

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Then sewed around each edge to create guidelines where the fabric should be turned under.

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All the edges were turned under at the stitch line and sewn in place with a running stitch. I did this by hand so the stitching wouldn’t be too obvious.

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Switching back to the soles, I placed the pleather layer beneath the cushion sole. Then covered them with a wool suiting, so the bottoms looked pretty.

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I also cut out a layer of gold spandex, which will be used as a top layer for the soles. I figured this would wipe down well in case the shoes get sweaty inside.

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I used basting stitches to sew the spandex on after the soles were covered with suiting.

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Then I sewed eyelets into the sides of both shoes. I did this by hand with three strands of embroidery floss. The bottom inch of the side edge (that doesn’t have eyelets) was sewn shut by hand.

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Then I pinned the top part of the shoes onto the soles and sewed them on by hand. And that was it! They are done!

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Stuff I learned: The sole should be slightly more narrow than your foot. Mine ended up being a lot wider than they needed to be. But I would rather that be the case than them being too small! And using anything other than leather will probably result in the shoes looking like slippers. Oops.

Also – i’m fully aware these aren’t very practical. They definitely aren’t waterproof and have no traction. There also isn’t topstitching around where the top of the shoes meets the sole, so I doubt they will be very durable. I’m going to wear these for a few sets of photos, not to an event that requires a lot of walking so it isn’t a big issue for me.

But you could definitely use a similar process, with rubber soles and leather that would be more appropriate for heavy wear.

Here they are worn with the cotehardie and tights!

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And the matching mantle.

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A write up on making the mantle and a tutorial on the crown will be coming up soon. As for the leggings, I’ll include that info here because they were really easy to make. I used a pair of forever 21 leggings as a guide, then added several inches to the waist and ankles since my fabric was one way stretch (and the leggings I based them on were made from two way stretch knit).

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Sewed up the crotch seams and side seams…

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Folded the hem inward by a half inch, twice, and hand sewed it down.

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Then turned the top edge inward by a half inch, then by two inches, and sewed across the bottom to create a channel for elastic. I sewed the elastic in and that was it! This fabric looks very flesh toned in the photos above but it has a pretty gold sheen to it which should come to life when I photograph this outdoors.

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And that’s it for this blog post! Thanks for reading and I hope your New Year is off to a good start!

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Gold and Ivory Gown, Photos

Here is the photo set that I promised! I didn’t think I would have these finished until tomorrow, but I got them done a day early (this may be the lamest Christmas miracle ever) so here they are.

For the third year in a row my dad and I went to a Christmas Tree Farm and asked if we could take photos. The people that own the farm said yes, so we spent a good hour taking pictures and looking for the best clusters of trees that would make a nice backdrop.

Last year our trip there wasn’t very successful since the dress didn’t really suit the environment. But this time it went wonderfully! I think the contrast of the white dress against the green is striking, and the headpiece works nicely with the surroundings. Plus it was a really nice day, which helped.

Usually I only post eight or so photos, but I couldn’t narrow it down this time so i’m posting double that!

If you’ve missed my “The Making of” posts about this project, they can be read here, here, and here. I also have videos about making it which are posted here.


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These ones turned out a little odd thanks to shadows from a tree that I didn’t notice until we got home. But I still like the pictures!

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And that’s it! This is definitely my last post before Christmas, and mostly likely my last post of the new year. I hope you all have a fantastic holiday (or week, if you don’t celebrate any of them) and a great start to the new year!

Thanks for reading!

 

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Making a Gold and Ivory Gown, Part Three

We are onto the final post about this dress! This one will cover the process of making the skirt. The first post about this dress can be read here, and the second is posted here.

The skirt is really pretty basic, since it’s just a giant rectangle. I had four yards of fabric leftover after making the sleeves (which is weird since i’m 90% sure I only bought four yards) and my material was sixty-one inches wide. That was a little long, so I trimmed five inches off the bottom.

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Then I folded the bottom edge inward by a half inch and sewed it down with basting stitches.

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Then folded the edge up by an inch and a half and pinned it in place. This way the raw edge was hidden and I had a wider hem, which will look smooth once ironed.

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I sewed that down with a cross stitch, which is my favorite hemming stitch. I think it’s a lot of fun to do, but I don’t like how much thread it takes up.

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I decided I wanted the skirt to close with hooks and bars at the centerback of the dress. But I didn’t want the stitching that attached the bars to be visible from the front side of the fabric.

So I made a facing for the back sides of the skirt out of a rectangle of cotton. I turned over the edges, then sewed them onto the back edges of the skirt, with the right sides of the fabric facing each other.DSC_9711

When the rectangle of fabric was turned over and pinned down I had a nicely finished edge and a base to mount my hooks!

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That got sewn on with whip stitches.

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Then I secured my hooks/bars onto that. These are spaced between one and a half and two inches apart, and I used black size 2 hooks. I would have used silver ones, but I didn’t have any.

The stitch work on these isn’t the prettiest, but at least you can’t tell from the outside of the skirt!

I really need to get better at sewing these on, I find them really frustrating, which shows in how the stitching ends up looking. My main problem is the thread getting tangled/caught on them, and how difficult it is to hold them in place while sewing them on. Any tips for that would be much appreciated!

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The back of the skirt got sewn up with a half inch french seam. I left the top few inches (that have the facing and hooks attached) open, and tapered the stitching down from that point into the half inch seam allowance. This way it doesn’t look abrupt or wonky from the outside.

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Then I gathered the skirt down. This part didn’t go very well. Even though this brocade is medium weight, it has a lot of body to it which made it a pain to gather. I did it by hand the first time, but my thread broke when I got to the end.

So I switched to doing it by machine. It took three passes to get it down to forty-five inches, then I used upholstery thread and gathered it down by hand to get it down to twenty seven.

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The gathers looked pretty decent but unfortunately I messed them up. I sewed the skirt onto the bodice from the backside, and ended up shifting some of the gathers around so they looked good from the backside. That was a mistake, because from the front they looked really lumpy and uneven.

That’s why it’s a better idea to sew densely gathered skirts on from the front side. And I should know that, I just forgot the day I sewed this skirt on…

The brocade used for the bodice is pretty delicate, and I didn’t want to damage it by removing and resewing on the skirt. So I left it as is. Which is another silly decision because the lower inch or two of the bodice is covered by ribbon, so if the brocade got a little banged up it wouldn’t matter, the ribbon would cover it.

It seems really obvious looking back at it, but it didn’t at the time. So that’s why my gathers don’t look great on this one :(

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I sewed the ribbon around the waistline of the bodice.

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Then I made the bow! I cut my remaining ribbon into three pieces, then sewed them together so I had a much wider piece of ribbon. This got sewn into a circle, then I pressed down in the center of the circle to create two evenly sized loops. I secured the loops with thread, then gathered the middle slightly and wrapped a scrap of ribbon around the center.

I love this bow. Maybe not as much as the ones on the cuffs, but it’s pretty close!

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I sewed one side of the bow onto the bodice. The other side is secured with a small snap. One half of the snap is stitched onto the underside of the bow, and the other onto the ribbon at the waist of the bodice. When the bow is snapped in place the center of it alights perfectly with the center back of the bodice.

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And that’s it! When I wore it for photos I put two fake cardinals on my shoulders. My wig kind of ate them but I thought they looked cute.

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I paired this with my wigfashion lace front (I wouldn’t recommend this wig, but I like how it looks here) and the Christmas Crown I made last year from things I got from Michaels. I actually have a tutorial about that crown here, if you’re interested. The full photo set of this ensemble will be in a few minutes, but here is a preview.

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Overall thoughts: I like how this turned out. Especially when it’s worn and paired with the headpiece and red lipstick. I think the contrast between the ribbons and the brocade is lovely, and I adore the bows and bodice detailing. It’s not my favorite thing i’ve made this year, but i’m happy with it. Especially considering it was made in a week from (mostly) things I already had, and without a clear picture of what I was making in my mind.

It isn’t as grand as my previous years costume, but it’s definitely better made! I don’t think I had any major construction or fit problems this year. If I did it again I would be more careful when attaching the skirt, and probably bone the back of the bodice a bit more heavily because I had some buckled bones at that point (oops) but there aren’t any raw edges or loose threads or issues that had me stumped for days on end. So that’s progress!

Thanks for reading! I hope you are enjoying the holiday season so far, or the time of work if you don’t celebrate any of them.

 

Making a Gold and Ivory Gown, Part Two

It’s time for the second post about making this years holiday dress! Part one can be read here and is about making the bodice. Today i’ll be going over how I made the sleeves, which i’m excited about because they are my favorite part of this dress. I wasn’t expecting to like them so much, since they are really simple, but I adore how the cuffs turned out. They have little bows on them so my wrists feel like presents!

I started by drafting a full length puff sleeve pattern. They flare out more at the bottom, so they have a slight bell shape but are pretty full at the top too. I probably would have made these wider but I was working with fabric limitations. I’m kind of happy the fabric restricted me, because the shape worked out really nicely and they probably wouldn’t have looked right if they were any bigger.

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I turned the bottom five inches of the sleeves edge inward by a half inch and sewed it down. Then turned it inward again so the raw edge was hidden, and sewed it in place with a whip stitch. I did this because the lower few inches of these sleeves have to be left open to allow my hand to pass through.  My hands are too big to fit if they are sewn closed all the way to the wrist cuff!

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I also gathered the lower edge of the sleeve down to my wrists circumference by hand with a running stitch that was pulled taught as I went.

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Then I cut out the lining for the cuffs, which are just rectangles of quilters cotton. I marked guidelines an inch away from each edge, then folded the raw edge up so it touched that line and sewed it in place.

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This way every edge of my cuff was finished.

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I pinned my sleeves onto the cuffs, with all the raw edges facing upward. Then sewed it down with my machine.

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The gathered edge was quite bulky so I topstitched over it several times until it became relatively flat. The backside of these did not look pretty, but they are functional, which is what matters most when it comes to the interiors of garments!

Since these cuffs are very fitted I decided to use hook/eye closures. I sewed two of these into each cuff – one at the top, one at the bottom.

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My cuffs fit perfectly at this point, but I realized later that I actually made them too small. The cotton had a tiny bit of stretch to it, so they eased nicely over my wrists. Once I added the top layer of fabric (which didn’t have ANY stretch) to the cuffs, they became much more difficult to hook up and I was left with some red marks after wearing them for long periods of time. Silly mistake on my part.

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Once the hooks were sewn in I trimmed the frayed edges at the cuffs.

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Then I cut out two pieces of ribbon and stitched them over the top side of the cuff, so all the ugly bits were hidden.

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Doesn’t that look so much better?

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Now it was time to make the bows for the cuffs. Here are the two lengths of ribbon I cut for them – I’d say I used around ten inches of ribbon for each one. I sewed the ends of the ribbon together so I had two circles, then pressed down in the center of the circle so I had two even loops.

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I wanted to use the same ribbon for the centers of the bows, but this ribbon is awfully wide for the centers of such small bows. So I folded the velvet part of the ribbon towards the gold trim and sewed it down. This created a quarter inch wide fold that made my ribbon a half inch smaller, and much more appropriate for these bows.

(I take bows very seriously, clearly)

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Then I wrapped the smaller ribbon around the center of each bow and sewed the ends together. And tah-dah, perfect little bows!

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I was going to put these on the backs of the cuffs, but they were so cute that I decided to sew them onto the front instead. Here they are pinned in place.

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And sewn on!

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Then I sewed up the side seam with a french seam. Like I mentioned earlier, I left the lower few inches open so I can fit my hand through.

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I sewed the bottom half of the sleeve on first, then gathered the top half so it perfectly fit into the arm opening. Then it was sewed in place with a whip stitch. I’ve been doing puff sleeves this way a lot recently because it lets me better visualize how dense I want the gathers to be before sewing them, which I like.

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At this point the interior of the bodice wasn’t looking great. It isn’t that bad, but there are some frayed edges and knots of thread which aren’t nice to look at.

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So I cut out a layer of lining from quilters cotton.

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Pinned it in place.

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And sewed it in with a whip stitch.

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Then my bodice, and sleeves, were complete! It still doesn’t look like much. I think this bodice really comes to life when it’s worn, it’s quite…flat looking when it’s just laid out. Luckily I will have worn pictures to share very soon – they should be going up on Wednesday or Thursday.

DSC_9744The final “The making of” post and video about this project will be up tomorrow! And that will be followed by photos of the finished ensemble. I got behind on my Christmas related posts, so you will be getting a lot of posts at once (I hope you don’t mind too much)!

Really quickly I wanted to mention the Christmas themed headpiece I made. It isn’t exciting enough to get it’s own post, but I’m really happy with how it turned out so I wanted to share it with you guys. A tutorial on the process of making it can be watched here, and photos will be below!

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Thanks for reading!

 

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Making a Gold and Ivory Gown, Part One

It’s that time of the year again! The time where I make a dress inspired by my favorite holiday, which is Christmas.

In case you are new to my blog, this is my third year in a row making dresses with this theme. My previous two holiday inspired dresses  can be viewed here and here. And like last year i’m filming the process of making this, the videos about it will be posted here.

This years dress has proved to be more of a challenge than ever. Not because it was difficult to make, in fact the construction was a lot more straightforward on this dress than last years. The challenge was coming up with an idea, which is weird for me, usually the idea is the easy part!

The ideas behind my previous Christmas dresses were very solid in my head for a few weeks before I started working on them, which made the lack of inspiration about this years project all the more frustrating.

After a lot of consideration I’ve decided to make something simple. I think my problem was  trying to overcomplicate this project and come up with something really impressive. But I don’t feel like making a really complicated this year. I want to make something quite simple and pretty that goes with this headpiece that I made last year.

I’m making the design somewhat Angelic once again, with a fitted bodice, full length puffed sleeves, and a full skirt. It’s kind of a throwback to the Renaissance inspired dresses I made when I first got into historical sewing a couple years ago – but the construction will be much better.

Today i’ll be showing you my materials and how I made the bodice.

I’m using fabrics I already had around. The bolt  of striped brocade was picked up earlier this year, and the other brocades were bought last year. I’m also using a bit of off white chiffon. Ideally this dress would be made entirely out of the striped brocade, but I only have four yards. That’s enough to make a relatively full skirt and pair of sleeves, but not enough for the bodice. So that’s where the gold brocade on the left side will come in.

The chiffon is for a gathered panel at the front of the bodice, which will make it look like i’m wearing a chemise underneath the dress. The did this with a lot of Lucrezia’s dresses in “The Borgias” which is one of my favorite series and probably why i’m so obsessed with this style.

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Once I selected the materials from my stash I went on a little trip to joanns and browsed the Christmas selections with hopes of finding inspiration. I didn’t find too much, but I did get these cute little velvet birds, a gold cage, seasonal sprigs, and some braided trim. I really loved the little birds, and the contrast between the doves and cardinals. That was something I wanted to incorporate into my dress.

Once I got back home I discovered some red and gold ribbon that I bought a few years back (for 70c or something crazy, thanks to sales) which matched the little birds perfectly! So I chose to feature this ribbon prominently in the dress at the waist and cuffs. I also pulled some gold sequins, seed beads, and 4mm fake pearls from my stash which i’m going to use around the bodice neckline.

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With all that settled, I got to work on the bodice. Instead of drafting a new pattern I used a vest pattern I made a few years ago to wear with my Pretty Pirate Project. I altered it quite a lot but the shape is still the same. The main changes were making the neckline wider and deeper, lowering the waistline, and removing the side seams.

Then I cut out a layer of cotton and marked all the boning channels. I drew these out randomly, with most of the bones at the center and sides of the bodice. I went a little crazy with the boning channels, but i’m using all plastic bones, and to get a nice shape with them you have to go a bit overboard.

Also, since i’m using brocade which shows every flaw I wanted the bodice to have a very stiff, smooth base, which is the effect lots of plastic bones give you.

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I cut a layer of twill out and pinned them together, then sewed all the boning channels. This took a while but I like sewing boning channels, it becomes relaxing after a while.

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I used the twill/cotton layer as a guide to cut out the brocade layer of the bodice. Then I pinned them together with the right sides facing each other and sewed around each edge. This should have been really easy, but I did it wrong. Or at least I thought I did it wrong. So I cut a few slits in the brocade layer, then began seam ripping the stitching. Only to realize a minute later that I DID sew it the right way.

Would have been nice to realize that before I cut the fabric…

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Anyway! I redid it and it turned out fine. Then I added some lightweight fusible interfacing to the back edges of the bodice, so the eyelets will sit better in the brocade.

I also trimmed the curves and corners so everything would look sharp when it’s turned the right way out.

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Speaking of turning things the right way out, I spent half an hour doing just that. I used pliers and colored pencils to speed the process up but it still seemed to take ages. When I was finally done I pinned around the edges, making sure that none of the twill/cotton/base layer was visible from the front side of the bodice.

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I sewed around each edge with a whip stitch so the brocade layer wouldn’t move around and reveal the base layer. You can avoid doing this if you make the lining slightly smaller than the top layer of fabric, but I didn’t want to risk doing that when boning channels were involved.

I only grabbed a few threads from the top layer of fabric so none of these stitches are too visible.

When that was done I added boning to the bodice and tried it on – luckily it fit!

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Then I stitched all the eyelets. I had the realization last week that you can use embroidery floss for sewing eyelets and it is way easier to work with than regular thread. I don’t know why this never occurred to me – it’s so obvious! Embroidery floss for embroidered eyelets. Makes perfect sense.

With this newly discovered process I decided to be brave and sew eyelets in a contrasting color. I went for a cheery red shade that matches the ribbon i’m using at the waist~

Fun fact: Totally pricked my finger when I was doing this and now it’s infected (though the doctor I saw insists it’s a bruise – despite the swelling, redness, and pain). I have my fingers crossed (the ones that aren’t infected) that it will resolve itself soon.

But hey, that barely matters because the eyelets look super pretty!

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I also trimmed the bottom edge and sewed on bias tape to cover it.

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To create the gathered front panel I cut out a strip of chiffon. Then I folded it in half and hand stitched across the folded edge so it wouldn’t shift.

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I gathered it by hand at two points – one is three quarters of an inch away from the top edge, the other is half an inch away from the bottom edge.

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Then I sewed it into the bodice with small whip stitches.

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I liked how it looked, but when I tried it on the gathering stitches at the top snapped. So I regathered it down to twelve inches (instead of the eight it was gathered down to originally) then sewed some thin elastic at the gathering point. This holds it close to my body but gives it the ability to stretch if it needs to.

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With that done it was time to add the embellishments to the neckline.

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I alternated between 4mm fake pearls and gold seed beads, then whip stitched the strand in place. Below that I sewed a spattering of gold sequins on. It’s subtle, but I think it’s very pretty!

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I didn’t extend the beading to the back of the bodice because I didn’t have enough pearls. And beading on the backs of dresses is kind of a pain, hair gets caught in it so easily.

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And here it is with the shoulder seam done up! I did sew lining into the bodice but that step came after attaching the sleeves, so i’ll show that in another post.

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And here is a preview photo of what the whole thing looks like finished, because the details are so much clearer in this photo and I wanted to show how smooth the brocade looks. I’m quite proud of that!

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More photos and The Making of Posts about this project will be up soon!

Thanks for reading!

 

Progress Report: November / December 2015

It’s been a while since i’ve done one of these, my last one was back in August so this is long overdue! I have a lot to share, so I have a feeling that this post will be really long and all over the place. Sorry about that.

If you are new to this type of post,  Progress Reports are a monthly round up of what i’ve been working on, what i’ve purchased, and what I plan to start working on soon.

I’m not going to talk too much about what i’ve finished in the past few months. Partially because I can’t really remember since i’ve had so much in progress recently. But mostly because the year is almost over, which means my “Year in Review” post will be up soon and in that i’ll be talking about everything i’ve finished this year.

So I won’t bore you with that information twice. But I do want to mention the projects I managed to get photographed this month, since i’m quite happy about those!

I made an escoffin and matching maroon dress to create a medieval ensemble. I’m really happy with how this turned out and I love the photos of it, I think they are quite striking. Unfortunately i’ve been really slow when it comes to editing photos, so I still don’t have this set completely finished…or any of the photosets. Hopefully i’ll get them done soon!

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We also photographed my Damask Print Medieval Dress. I don’t like how this dress turned out, and the photos were a it of a flop. Most had weird shadows in them and the best ones of the bunch were taken with a flash – which made my eyes look really dead. But I do like this photo, it really shows off how pretty these fabrics are in sunlight.

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And I FINALLY got photos of my Civil War Era Dress! I adore this costume, it was one of my favorite things that I made in 2014. Unfortunately I never got photos of it, or made a petticoat to go with it, or even finished blogging about it!

 I still have all the progress photos of it, so a long overdue post about making the skirt and headpiece will be up in the coming months.

In the mean time, look at all the pieces together! I’m still thrilled by how this project turned out. The fit, the sleeves, and the fabric, I love it all.

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I didn’t end up making a petticoat to go with this dress, instead I layered petticoats over my farthingale, which has an elliptical shape similar to large dresses from the mid 19th century. It wasn’t pretty, but I got a decent silhouette out of it.

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Then I re-hemmed the skirt so it sits properly over it and made the half bonnet from lace and matching green fabric. I think it finishes off the look nicely.

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Since i’m talking about photographing finished projects I think I should mention this years Christmas Project, which I finished a few days ago. My dad and I went out to the Christmas Tree Lot (for the third year in a row) and took some pictures. Last year this was a bit of a fail, but this year they turned out wonderfully. I’m not ready to share any of them yet, but here is a little preview of the costume!

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I’ve made Christmas inspired dresses for the last few years, and usually the ideas for them are easy to come by. That didn’t happen this year. Coming up with a concept was really hard, and I ended up going for something quite simple. But I do like how it turned out. The construction process went really nicely and I think the dress is very cute, even if it isn’t as exciting as the dress I made last year.

I used gold brocade from my stash as a base, some beads in matching colors, and red ribbon for a pop of color. I took some color inspiration from these little velvet birds I found at Joanns. I found the contrast between the red and white really striking, and I wanted to do something similar.

I won’t ramble on about it too much since a “The Making of” post about the process is going up tomorrow, but here are the things from the Joanns trip that helped inspire this dress.

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I ended up using some of the materials I got to create another seasonal crown (yet again, for the third year in a row). I’m very pleased with how this turned out as well, I added some battery powered lights to it and I think the whole thing looks magical. I can’t wait to get worn photos of it!

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I did film a video tutorial on the process, but i’m not sure when it will be going up.

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I also got a few other bits and pieces from Joanns, thanks to Black Friday sales, so i’ll share those as well.

I got six yards fake wool flannel for $24 – which I think is an absolute steal. I love this fabric, It’s what I used for my Civil War Era dress and the texture of it is wonderful. Unfortunately they didn’t have the best color selection, or enough fabric left in most colors for me to do something great with it. But I do like the one I bought.

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I also got four yards of a sari fabric and a yard of this textured stretch fabric. Not sure what i’m going to do with any of these materials, but I really like all of them!

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These next few things I didn’t buy, they were a gift from my Great Aunt. She gave them onto me a few months ago when my family was visiting Canada to attend a wedding.

She got these from an auction at a theater that was shutting down. They are all vintage costume and sewing books – I think they were all printed before the 1960s, some as early as 1907.

The first few are a set of textbooks from the 1920s, which were created by Mary Picken for the Women’s Institute of Domestic Arts and Sciences. I haven’t read through them all just yet, but i’m really impressed by them. They explain a huge variety of techniques in really simple terms that makes the most complicated of things pretty easy to follow.

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The other books are specific to costumes and historical dress. Again, I haven’t read these through yet but i’ve enjoyed browsing them! And I will take the time to read them cover to cover soon.

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They are all well balanced between photos and text, which I appreciate since i’m a very visual person.

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Now lets talk about some things in progress. Of which I have plenty. I decided at the start of December that I wanted to finish five projects before the new year. Five! In a month! As you can probably imagine my to-do list has been looking really overwhelming since I made that decision. I have managed to get a bunch of things crossed off in the last week, but here you can see it in it’s original state.

So many things.

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I want to start fresh in the new year, and be able to focus on new projects without these weighing me down. Not that I dislike the projects, but I know when January rolls around i’ll be ready to work on something new. So I’d like to get these things finished first.

But that is easier said than done.

The project i’m closest to finishing is my Cotehardie ensemble. If you’ve seen my last post than you’ll know I finished the cotehardie part of this and i’m pretty happy with the outcome.

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But that piece is one of many. I still have to finish the crown and mantle which go along with it. Luckily i’ve finished the shoes which were the part I was really scared of, and the leggings. If I remade either of these things I would do them a bit differently, but for the most part i’m happy with them.

Wool Shoes~

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A blog post about these should be up soon – these were a step (ha!) outside of my comfort zone, so I think they will be fun to write about!

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The dagged edges on the mantle are what slowed me down, but they are done now so the rest should go quickly!

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The crown is…well the crown isn’t going too well, but hopefully I can get that figured out soon and have the whole thing done!

My next “almost done” project is a Burgundian Dress. This project has actually been going quite well, though i’ve hit a bit of a setback because I don’t have enough trim to hem the skirt with…and the trim is discontinued, so I can’t get more of it, which means I have to take in my pretty skirt. I’m annoyed by that even though it’s my fault for measuring wrong.

Aside from that, all the difficult parts of this project are done, but it’s usually the easy finishing bits that take me ages, so i’m not sure when it will get finished.

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That dress will be paired with a Medieval Hennin, which I finished this month. It’s made from matching fabric with a chiffon veil and lots of pretty beaded trimming.

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I don’t think the chiffon matches very well,  I’ll definitely be on a lookout for a lighter, more grey toned chiffon next time i’m in NYC. But it works fine for now!

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The Burgundian dress is worn over a kirtle, which i’ve also finished. It’s made out of the most annoying brocade ever but I think it turned out quite nicely. Here is a WIP of it, from before I added the sleeves and trimming.

I don’t want to give away too much about these projects since I really want to write detailed blog posts about all of them, but i’m so far behind with my blog that those posts probably won’t go up for another month or two. :(

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The third project is already done, and that’s my Christmas project. As I said earlier blog posts about that will be up really soon, so i’ll talk more about it there.

Unfortunately my other two projects that I want to finish haven’t been going as well. The first one is a 1630s  ensemble that i’m becoming quite frustrated with. First the shoulder didn’t fit, then I fixed that and realized the bodice was too short waisted. I spent many hours hand sewing the strips for paned sleeves only to realize they are the wrong length and the arm hole isn’t wide enough.

This week I started work on a matching chemise to go under it and the sleeves for that are too full and short even though I triple checked the length. It’s like this project is refusing to go well!

I think i’m going to have to completely start over…but my motivation towards this  project is fading, and i’m not sure I can remake it without giving up. It’s such a shame since this is my favorite style of gown ever, I’ve been so excited to make one and now that I am it’s going horribly.

It could turn itself around, and I haven’t given up on it yet, but i’m certainly not happy with it at the moment!

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Here are the pieces bound together, you can see how shoddy the shoulders are due to crazy alterations. I’m also not happy with my choice to have the bodice close at the front, if I redo this it’ll have lacing in one of the back seams.

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The chemise might not fit nicely under this dress, but it looks pretty so far! I’m using a lovely lace fabric over white chiffon and embellishing it with iridescent white sequins.

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The sleeves cuffs are finished with more sequins and some iridescent braided trim.

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The other project i’m determined to finish this year hasn’t been touched in months, even though it’s close to being done. It’s an 18th century gown that will be worn over a chemise, stays, and pocket hoops. The gown has wide lace across the hem and will be worn with a riding coat and hat.

I started on it this summer and it hasn’t changed much since then. The underthings were done, but i’ve realized I need to remake the chemise from lighter fabric and take the stays in so they are smaller.

The bodice is almost done, it’s just missing sleeves. And the skirt is almost finished as well, I just have to finish sewing on the lace.

But the jacket and hat? No clue how to make those or what the patterns will look like. I haven’t even thought about it. But I know the beading and detailing will take time so I want to get started soon. I need to have a research day and figure out what this costume is even going to look like, then get my butt in gear and actually finish it!

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I think my goals for this month might be a little bit too ambitious. We’ll just have to wait and see if I can accomplish them.

Oh! I’m also working on a velvet kirtle, but i’m honestly not feeling very excited about this project and I don’t see myself finishing it this year. I don’t dislike it, it’s just boring. It will eventually have a cartridge pleated skirt, small sleeve rolls at the shoulder, long velvet sleeves and white cuffs. I’d like to pair it with a damask print vest and hat as well, but I don’t see any of that happening any time soon.

I made the smock this month as well. I used three yards of a really neat metallic chiffon and it has a gorgeous sheen to it.

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With all the stuff I have in progress out of the way, lets talk about the future! I’m going into NYC to spend my Christmas money soon and I have big plans. Okay that is kind of a lie – I don’t have any plans because I haven’t researched anything yet, but I have big ideas!

I’ve been watching Downton Abbey recently and it’s given me an appreciation for fashion from that era that I didn’t have a few months ago. I’ve always considered the silhouettes and styles from the late 19th/early 20th century to be quite…ugly, and unflattering. They still aren’t my favorite but i’ve definitely found a few gowns from those times that I love. And the challenge of working on designs from an era I haven’t worked on or researched before has me excited.

I’ll be doing historical research of course, but thanks to the dresses in Downton Abbey and the costume design for Crimson Peaks i’ve decided an Edwardian day dress, hat, matching cloak, and sparkly evening dress are all in my future. I’d also like to look into making a flapper dress, but I feel like the shape of them would look awful on me

In addition to those plans I’ll be searching for some wool to make a large cloak to wear over my Silvery Blue Dress for a photoshoot in the snow.

And though I won’t be shopping for it on this trip into NYC, I think a 1880s bustle dress might be in my future as well. Which probably doesn’t sound odd to you guys, but I’m a bit shocked to be saying that! A year ago I would have sworn that I would never make anything from that period. How things change!

I also have a few menswear projects on my upcoming “to sew” list. I picked up these shoes from a modcloth sale because they reminded me of 18th century footwear. They are really inaccurate but I don’t care. I have some blue jacquard fabric that matches them nicely, and some blue velvet laying around. So i’m totally going to make a horribly tacky menswear inspired 18th century ensemble and wear these with it. I can’t wait.

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I’d also like to make a 19th century court dress from the embroidered blue velvet I got last year. And I have some gold trim and taffeta that I’d love to use for a matching menswear ensemble from the same period.

Though i’m not super excited about this one, because i’ve made similar things in the last month, I want to make the women’s cotehardie ensemble I bought fabric for a few months ago. I  want to photograph it in the snow, which means it will be at the top of my project list for January!

The one i’m most excited about is a civil war era ball gown. I bought cotton sateen and lace for this a few years ago but it wasn’t until I was altering my Plaid dress from the same period that I remembered how much I love the silhouette and dresses from that time. I’m on the look out for another material in the same color scheme that I can use for an ovelay on the dress. If I find it when i’m in NYC i’ll be starting on it right away. But I do have to make a petticoat to go under it, which will probably take ages, so I might not have a lot of progress to share about it any time soon!

We are almost at the end of this post! The last things I wanted to mention are social media related. Nothing super exciting has happened, but last month I was part of Schmetz Inspired to Sew Series. The interview I did with them can be read here if you are interested!

I also (finally) made an instagram. I wasn’t expecting to like it because i’m not someone who reaches for my phone very often, but I love it. I’ve found it very convenient and have been updating at least once a day with some stuff that doesn’t get posted anywhere else. So if you have an account and want more regular updates on my work, I would suggest following me there! My account name is AngelaCostumery.

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I also hit 50,000 subscribers on youtube quite recently which is insane, but awesome. I’m really excited and grateful to know that that many people are interested in my work!

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And speaking of youtube, I made a much requested video this month which is an updated tour of my sewing room. It’s really long but it goes over pretty much every detail of how I store my costumes, fabrics, trims, notions and all sorts of stuff.

I had intended to make a blog post showing the room as well, but I think the video format works better for the amount of information I wanted to share. If you’re into that thing it can be watched here! 

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And that’s it!

As an end note I wanted to say that i’m sorry i’ve been slacking so much when it comes to blogging. I went through a weird phase where I wasn’t excited enough to write about my projects. Now i’m over that and really enjoying my projects but seem to be making them faster than I can write about them, so I just haven’t bothered.

Now I have enough photos to write about 20 detailed “The making of” posts, but so much to do before the New Year that I haven’t written any of them. I think January and February will be slower months, since i’ll be making corsets and petticoats and patterning new projects. There won’t be much to report there which means I should be able to make my way through the backlog i’ve developed recently. I really appreciate your patience when it comes to this stuff.

Thanks for reading!

 
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Posted by on December 15, 2015 in Progress Report, Uncategorized

 

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