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1890s Plaid Walking Ensemble, Photos

I’ve already talked about this project a lot, so I won’t ramble on for too long. But I wanted to say once again that i’m really pleased with how this project turned out.

I don’t think these pictures are the best photos in the world, but i’m so happy with how the costume looks in them. Sometimes I see other bloggers photos and wonder how they make historical costumes look so…right, and effortless when worn. Mine always take ages to lay out, and if I move the skirt has to be refluffed and the bodice adjusted to make sure it looks okay.

This costume doesn’t have any of those issues. Even after walking for half a mile on dusty trails it looked fine as soon as I dropped the skirt. So when I see these photos I see the ease of wearing this costume, which makes me feel like i’m one step closer to making things that are on the same level as the costumers I admire. And that is a pretty wonderful feeling!

A brief write up of this project can be found here, along with links to the “Making of” posts which detail the entire process of creating this costume. 

I’ve also uploaded a video that shows the details of this costume, the process of getting into it, and some footage of it being worn. If that interests you it can be watched here!

Now as promised, here are the finished photos of the ensemble!

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And a close up of the back – I don’t like this photo, since the wig looks shiny, but I wanted the show off the soutache detailing!

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That’s it for today, thanks for reading!

 

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Plaid Walking Ensemble ca. 1890

The project was originally inspired by this ensemble, but was shaped by dozens of fashion plates I came across when researching the 1890s. I didn’t have a very clear vision when I started this project, so it was constantly evolving throughout the sewing process.

This project began as a skirt, then expanded into a full ensemble that consists of four main pieces, which include a skirt, jacket, blouse, and hat. The costume is made from six yards of faux wool flannel, cotton lining, three yards of silk, and a variety of buttons, trimmings, and scraps of material that I had left over from old projects. I estimate this project has around sixty dollars of material in it, including the price of scraps I used.

Everything was drafted, draped, and designed by me except for the jacket sleeves, which were from a pattern book.  The skirt was the most time consuming part of the project, since assembling the pieces was a very long process. Each one was carefully cut out on the bias then hand basted together to make sure each line matched perfectly. Then the seams were trimmed and basted by hand once again to create french seams. This was repeated more than a dozen times until the skirt was constructed.

The jacket was made using a similar process. It’s made almost entirely from the faux wool, with silk lapels and cotton lining. The back of the jacket and the lapels feature detailed soutache patterns that were designed by me, then made from fifteen yards of soutache braid that was stitched down by hand. The front of of the jacket is finished with more soutache details and nine domed buttons. The sleeves are plain, made from a two piece pattern and trimmed with a bit of vintage lace.

The blouse is a bit odd in design, more like a corset cover than a functional shirt. It’s made from two yards of ivory silk satin and is fully lined with a lightweight cotton. It closes at the back with a mixture of hooks/bars and ties, including a one at the collar which can be knotted into a large bow that sits at the back of the neck. The front of the blouse is finished with three shell buttons.

The hat is made from a mixture of buckram and felt weight interfacing. It’s covered with silk and lined with bright red velvet. The cap portion is trimmed with a matching ribbon, lace and a bow. The brim is decorated with partial pheasant pelt, which was a common trend during the 1890s.

The ensemble is worn over two petticoats, a chemise, and a corset, which were all made by me as well.

More photos of this project, detailed construction notes, and photos of the construction process can be found below. And If you would like to see more close ups of this project and the process of getting into it, I have a video that covers that. It can be watched here.

Part One, Making the Skirt

Part Two, Making the Jacket

Part Three, Making the Skirt, Continued + Blouse Construction

Part Four, Making the Jacket, Continued + Hat Construction

Plaid Walking Ensemble ca. 1890, Photos

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Making an 1890’s Plaid Walking Ensemble, Part Four

Making an 1890’s Plaid Walking Ensemble, Part Four

We are onto the final post about making this ensemble! This will cover the process of finishing the jacket and making a matching hat. The previous posts about this project can be read here, here, and here!

At this point the jacket really needed a collar, which meant I had to draft the soutache pattern for the collar.  Once I did that I scanned my sketch, then loaded it into photoshop. I mirrored the image and printed it out. Then I redrew the portions of the knot that are supposed to interlock.

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The design was then traced onto interfacing, which got fused onto a piece of silk. I stitched through the design with thread in a light color so it would be visible from the front side of the fabric.

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I sewed the green soutache braid over the stitch lines, then sewed it to a piece of plaid material with the right sides facing each other. When it was turned the right way out I stitched along the edge to secure the pieces together.

This was the final result!

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I liked how it looked but once I pinned it in place I realized it was too small. It needed to be two inches wider and an inch deeper to have a chance of looking good. It was a little too late to remake it (limited amounts of fabric, soutache braid, and patience) so I added extra fabric to the bottom of the collar and hoped for the best. Here you can see the plaid fabric I added, plus the unfinished edge of the collar (which was supposed to be flat against the neckline.

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At this point I also realized the collar should have been attached before lining the lapels. My fix to this was sewing the lapel over the collar and tacking the collar lining to the shoulder of the jacket so the raw edge wouldn’t be visible. It’s all quite difficult to explain but by some miracle everything worked out okay and the collar/lapel looks absolutely find from all angles.

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With that crisis avoided/resolved I moved on to the final bit of soutache, which goes across the front of the jacket. I drew out my design, scanned it, then printed out a copy for either side of the jacket.

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The design was traced onto interfacing, then ironed into the jacket interior.

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Once again I sewed the braid on by hand.This time I left loops of braid open on the right side of the jacket to hold the buttons in place.

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Okay that is a lie, the button loops don’t hold anything in place. They are largely decorative (as are the buttons) the jacket actually closes with three hooks and eyes.

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When all that was done I stitched up the side seam and plopped the jacket on my dress form. Pretty pleased with how this looks!

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I sewed the buttons on and tried the jacket on. I was less pleased after this fitting. Though it fits well, the buttons/braided detail/closures sit too high – more than a full inch above my waist, which makes the jacket  less flattering than I had hoped. I added an extra hook a half inch below the buttons, but at this point that was all I could do.

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I hemmed the jacket by hand, then assembled the lining from muslin.

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The rest of the buttons got sewn on, then I pinned the lining in place.

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It was sewn in by hand with small whip stitches.

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And then it was time for sleeves! I was not looking forward to this part of the project at all but it ended up being really easy. I used a pattern from “59 Authentic Turn-of-the-Century Fashion Patterns” and it worked so well. I really like draping patterns, but I hate sleeves so I see myself reaching for this book again in the future.

The original pattern looked like this.

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After a fitting I made some changes – they were a little too wide, short, and I wanted more puff at the shoulder. Here is the altered pattern (it looks really similar, this pattern was awesome from the start).

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Unfortunately when cutting the sleeves I goofed up and cut off the extra inch I was supposed to leave to make them more poofy.

On top of that disappointment, I wasn’t able to cut these out in a way where both seams would match up. But I did find a way to get the front seam to match!

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Here are the front seams.

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I hemmed the sleeves by hand, then stitched some vintage lace across the hem.

I sewed the lining together but it ended up being two inches too short, which was bizarre since I used the same pattern that was used for the sleeves which fit perfectly. To fix it I filled in the gap between the hem of the sleeves and the lining with more lace.

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Then I gathered the top edge of the sleeves so they would fit into the jacket.

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Here they are pinned in place – I managed to get one of the stripes to line up between the shoulder and the sleeves, which was kind of cool!

The sleeves were attached with tiny whip stitches. When that was done the jacket was finished!

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I’m so thrilled with how this came out – even with the wonky waist and lack of symmetry on some of the soutache pieces. This is the happiest i’ve been with a project in a long time. It’s really surpassed my expectations and i’m so pleased with it. I really want to make more jackets like this in the future, it was so much fun!

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Now onto the hat! I’ve debated about whether to even post about this part of the project, since it’s probably going to be a bit controversial (i’ll say why in a bit) but I think it adds a lot to this ensemble, and I wanted to share the process of making it.

The shape of this hat is based off the “upside down flowerpot” hats that were common in the 1890s. I wanted to make a proper top hat to go with this dress, but ladies didn’t wear them during this period and this was the closest I could find while still remaining “accurate”.  The one I made is loosely based on this hat and this one. I also used the illustrations from “Women’s Hats, Headdresses and Hairstyles” as a guide for the back of the hat.

After coming up with a pattern I cut the top portions out from buckram, and sewed wire into the edges.

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I used felt weight interfacing for the brim but I should have used buckram since the edges of the brim ended up being quite thick.

The edges of this were also reinforced with wire that was whip stitched in place.

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I covered the pieces with a thin layer of quilt batting, then sewed silk overtop. Each piece was lined with muslin after finishing this step.

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The process was repeated on the brim, except it’s lined with red velvet, not muslin. And instead of the raw edge around the brim being folded under it was trimmed, then the edges were finished with bias tape. Which was a complete pain to do with this fabric since it was very finicky!

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The raw edges toward the hats opening were finished with bias tape as well.

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Then the brim was sewn to the cap, and I had a hat!

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Now for the controversial part: In the 1880s and 1890s there was a phase where the most common hat decorations were birds. Not feathers, actual stuffed birds. It got to the point where species were being hunted to the point of endangerment just for the sake of fashion. This craze led to strict preservation laws that make owning most feathers illegal.

I’ve always found that bit of history interesting. Though a lot of the hats are extreme and creepy, I find the more subdued ones quite striking and pretty to look at.  In February I was going through my reference books in search of ideas when I came across a full page photo of one of these hats which got me wondering if it would be possible to make one in this day and age.

It turns out it is possible since dried/preserved pheasant pelts are very commonly sold. Sporting stores sell them for fly tying, hunters sell them so they don’t go to waste, and feather shops sell them for crafts. After seeing the wide availability of the pelts, and how beautiful the colors in them are, I chose to use one as my primary hat decoration.

Personally I don’t see a big difference between this and using feathers in general, since most feathers sold are not naturally shed/cruelty free. But I know everyone has different opinions, and If this concept, or the visual of feathers in their natural form it is bothersome to you, I’d suggest skipping the final few photos in this post!

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I decorated the hat with a band of red velvet, some of the lace I used on the jackets cuffs, and a bow. I used two goose feathers on the side with the bow, and attached the wings/green feathers of the pheasant to the other side.

I purchased this partial pelt from ebay (the seller JellyHead!) It’s a golden pheasant pelt and cost ten dollars. The one I purchased only included the body/wings, no crest and no tail feathers. I trimmed it significantly so it would sit nicely on the hat and the red/green portions would be the most visible part. I don’t think these photos do it justice, all these feathers have a gorgeous iridescence when the sun hits them.

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When I wore this I pinned a comb into the interior so it wouldn’t shift around on my head.

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And that’s it! I’m very pleased with how this  came together. Seeing photos of it makes me smile because It looks so much better than the picture I had in my head, which almost never happens.

Here are a few photos of the finished ensemble. My favorite pictures of it are from the front and back, but i’m still in the process of editing those, so think of this as a preview. I should have the full set, along with a “costume spotlight” video about this up on Friday!


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Plaid 1, Resize

Thanks for reading!

 

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Making an 1890’s Plaid Walking Ensemble, Part Three

It’s time for another update on my plaid walking ensemble! The first post about making this can be read here, and part two is posted here – if you haven’t read them already I would suggest you do so, otherwise this post won’t make much sense!

I’m switching things up a bit and talking about the skirt today. Since the skirt came together pretty quickly i’ve also included the making of a simple silk undershirt, which I will wear with this ensemble.

When I last left off the skirt didn’t look like much. But before doing any assembly I wanted to add closures to the back of the skirt.

To do that I folded the top ten inches of the back seam inward. Then I fused thin strips of interfacing overtop of the raw edge, starting a quarter inch away from the folded edge of the material.

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The interfacing didn’t look very nice so I covered it with bias tape which was made from scraps of the plaid material.

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I sewed the bias tape in place by hand then stitched six size 1 hooks/eyes on top of the bias tape, near the folded edge. These are each spaced about one and a quarter inches apart.

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Once the hooks are done up the back looks relatively smooth.

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With the back panels finished I went ahead and did some skirt assembly. The front, side, and back panels were all sewn together with french seams. I ended up redoing part of the left front seam since it was puckering (visible in this photo) but everything else matched up well!

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Though I did have a slight problem when sewing the back panels on. For some reason the pattern didn’t match up, so I had to move the back panel down and trim almost two inches off the top edge of the side panel.

I also noticed an awkward “poof” at the side seam near the waist. I fixed this by sewing a dart into that seam, in this photo you can see the dart pinned.

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After making the alterations mentioned above I hemmed the front and back panels. I did this with loose whip stitches. I wasn’t concerned about them being very pretty or durable since they will be covered by a facing.

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The facing looked like this! This facing probably should have been between six or ten inches wide, I have no idea why I made it this huge, it was kind of unnecessary.

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The facing was sewn in with much smaller, prettier, whip stitches.

When that was done I got to try the skirt on!

This was really exciting at the time since I could start to see the silhouette coming together.

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I was pretty happy with it. I thought it was a little bit too long but I didn’t have any trouble walking in it when I was on hard wood floors/smooth surfaces so I decided it was fine.

Now that i’ve actually worn this finished skirt on a variety of terrains I can tell you that my first instinct was right, the hem should be taken up by an inch. The length doesn’t look bad, but it definitely drags more than it should.

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The next step was making the waistband. I based this design on “corselet waistbands” from the late 1890s/early 1900s. I like these because they bring attention to the waistline, and the pointed back means I can mount the skirt lower which helps make up for how much fabric I had to trim from the top of the side panel!

The waistband is made from the silk fabric used elsewhere on the project and reinforced with a medium weight fusible interfacing.

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I ironed all the edges inward by a half inch.

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Then pinned thin piping onto the top and bottom edges. I made this piping from knitting wool and bias cut strips of silk (which were offcuts from the pleated panels made for the skirt).

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The piping was whip stitched on, then ironed, which left me with a waistband that looks like this!

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I gathered the back of the skirt slightly, so the top edge of the skirt matches the size of the waistband.

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Then I pinned it onto the skirt. I decided to hide the raw edge of the skirt in the waistband. I usually wouldn’t do this since it adds bulk to the waistline, but since this skirt is quite slim cut there isn’t much bulk in that area.

I sewed the waistband on with two rows of whip stitches. The first goes through the interfaced portion of the waistband and the skirt, and the second attaches the piping to the skirt.

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Then I sewed cotton lining into the interior of the waistband to cover all the raw edges.

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And the final step was sewing in hooks! I used four size 2 hooks/eyes for this part.

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Finished skirt from the front…

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And from the back. There is a bit of overlap here, when the skirt is worn and there is tension on the waistband it looks much better!

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The skirt was technically done but after working on the jacket I decided to add buttons to each side of the front panel. I used smaller versions of these buttons on the jacket, so I think it ties them together quite well.

I should also mention that I redid the bottom few inches of these seams several times, yet they are still puckered and unfortunate looking. To fix it I would have to give up on matching the pattern at that point, and I don’t want that. So I think it’s something i’ll have to deal with, even though it bothers me!

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With the skirt done I could begin work on another piece to wear with this ensemble!

This piece is a bit confusing. It’s supposed to look like a shirtwaist from the front, but is constructed like a corset cover (which usually weren’t meant to be seen). I didn’t want to make a full shirtwaist since they require a lot of material and tend to have full sleeves which add bulk to the shoulder/arms of the garments worn overtop of them. So I made a sleeveless shirtwaist that is intended to be worn underneath something so the back/arms won’t be seen.

Make sense?

I originally made this garment out of a striped shirting (i’ll probably show it in a future Progress Report) but I didn’t like the end result, so I made a new pattern and searched my stash for new fabric. The fabric I settled on isn’t new, and it wasn’t from my stash. I harvested the fabric from this dress. It was a bit sad taking it apart but the dress was held together with E6000, safety pins, straight pins (which I didn’t even know were there), and hot glue, so it was definitely not going to be worn again.

The dress also featured embarrassing hand sewing details like this hem. Look at that top stitching. Wow.

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There was just enough ivory silk satin on it to cut out my pattern, plus a two inch wide bias cut strip that will be used as a sash for an 1890’s hat I plan on making soon.

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This material is really prone to slipping around. So I cut my pattern out from white muslin first, then used the muslin pieces as a guide for cutting out each piece of silk.

I sewed the pieces of silk to the muslin with the right sides of the fabric facing each other. Once turned the right way out the edges are finished nicely and I don’t have to worry about them fraying in the future.

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I left the bottom edge open since it will be finished with bias tape, and the top edge open since it will be lined and covered with a gathered strip of satin.

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The front panel was gathered at the waist to add volume to the center front and across the chest.

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The edges that touch the neckline were gathered as well.

I did up the side and shoulder seams, then sewed the gathered edges at the neckline to the collar lining.

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A strip of bias cut satin was sewn overtop to cover the raw edges. I finished the edges of this strip by hand with a rolled quarter inch hem.

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I sewed  the fitted portion of the bodice on and finished the bottom edge with double fold bias tape. The bias tape extends beyond the back edge so it can be used as a waist tie to keep the bodice in place.

The entire back edge of this bodice and collar opens with hooks and bars. It takes some flexibility to do up, but I can get it on and off myself which i’m very happy about!

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At the center front I attached two shell buttons. These were purchased from the shop “VintageLinens1” on etsy – I got a big package of them for a very reasonable price.

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Here it is when worn! I should have made this a bit smaller at the waist (it fits well over this corset, it’s too big for my other one) and made the shoulders a little wider, but overall I really like it. The sheen of this fabric is gorgeous, it has just the right amount of volume in the front, doesn’t add bulk underneath dresses, and I can get it on and off by myself. I’m very pleased.

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The final post about making this ensemble will be up next week. Assuming I can get everything edited in time, there should also be photos of the finished ensemble and a costume spotlight video up shortly thereafter.

Thanks for reading!

 

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Making an 1890’s Plaid Walking Ensemble, Part Two

Making an 1890’s Plaid Walking Ensemble, Part Two

A couple weeks ago I posted about the plaid skirt I have in progress. That skirt is part of an ensemble which will also include a blouse, jacket, and hat. The skirt design came really easily to me but figuring out the upper half proved to be more of a challenge!

I had a very rough idea of what I wanted this jacket to look like but couldn’t seem to find anything that matched my “vision”. The traditional eton jackets were a bit simpler than what I wanted and everything else seemed too big and poofy.

I ended up purchasing the book “Victorian Fashions and Costumes from Harper’s Bazar, 1867-1898″ which was a big help. I didn’t see anything in it that I wanted to replicate but it gave me a better idea of the silhouettes and closures used on jackets from the 1890s, which made me feel more comfortable in making up a design of my own.

Here is a rough sketch of what I had in mind.

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Then it was time to make the pattern. I had planned on flat drafting this but after reading about the process I felt too intimidated and chose to drape it instead. Even though I didn’t flat draft it,  I used the patterns in “The Keystone Jacket and Dress Cutter” as a guide for the shapes of the pieces, which was helpful.

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Once copied to paper my pattern looked like this!

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I used that pattern to make a mock up which looked like this! I wasn’t expecting it to look anywhere near this good on the first try, so this was a very pleasant surprise.

There were a a bunch of changes that had to be made – like lowering the hem and waistline by a half inch, taking the front dart in by a 1/4″ at the waist, and adding a half inch to the arm openings. But all of those are pretty simple to do.

I also decided to add an inch to the front of each panel so the jacket could close with buttons. That wasn’t part of my original plan (or sketch) but I thought it would look more flattering in the end.

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Once the pattern was altered I drew diagonal lines onto each piece. These lines are a guide for which direction the plaid should face, and line up with certain points on the plaid material.

Each pattern piece is pinned onto the material, with the guidelines carefully matched to points on the plaid.

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Once one piece is cut out it’s used as a guide for cutting out the next piece so I can guarantee everything is symmetrical.

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By some miracle I managed to cut out seven of the nine jacket pieces from the weirdly shapes scraps I had leftover after cutting out the skirt. This was fantastic news since I only had a yard and a half of material leftover aside from the scraps, and I needed ALL of that yardage to cut out the sleeves and front panels of the jacket.

Speaking of the front panels, these had me stumped. I drew the guidelines onto the pattern, just like I did with all the other pieces. But after doing that I realized a major problem.

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Once the dart is sewn the plaid would not match. Here you can see how far the guidelines are from lining up.

If this was at the back of the bodice I might be more lenient, but this is the front, it can’t be that far off!

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So I chopped my pattern into two pieces, added seam allowances, and cut them out on separate grain lines.

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Then I sewed the pieces together – I realize it doesn’t look like much here, just wait!

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Before sewing the dart I interfaced the lapels and collar. I’d planned on pad stitching this but I didn’t have the right materials around so interfacing seemed like the best option.

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Now I could finally do the dart up and see if it worked, which it totally did!  I’m pretty sure I made an squealing noise when I ironed this and pinned it to my dress form. I knew it should work, but I was not expecting it to look this good and match up this nicely.

It isn’t perfect but it’s way closer than I had expected it to be!

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With the front panels done I moved on to assembling the rest of the pieces. Each piece was basted together by hand, then sewn.

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The basting stitches are more secure than pins, so the fabric doesn’t move when I sew it and I can make sure everything lines up just the way I want it to!

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Once the back panels were assembled I decided to try something new. It’s a technique called Soutache, which involves creating patterns out of braided cord. I bought sixteen yards of green soutache braid back in December, which I planned on pairing with this fabric before I even had a design in mind.

I was mostly inspired by this jacket, though I used some references from the Victorian fashion book as well. I spent hours trying to figure out the name of this type of design since I hoped to copy an existing pattern but I couldn’t find anything similar so I had to draw it out myself.

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Then I loaded it into photoshop and mirrored the image. I also made the top loops a little bit bigger and stretched the image to make it longer. After printing it out I used white out and a sharpie to rearrange a few things I wasn’t happy with.

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Then I traced the design onto interfacing, which got fused onto the back of the jacket panels.

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Then I sewed through the design with pale thread so the design was visible on the front of the fabric.

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And lastly I sewed the braid on. It is SO far from being symmetrical, which bothers me, but aside from that i’m pretty happy with how it looks. I was worried it would look too busy, or barely be visible on the plaid, but neither of those things were an issue in the end.

 Also I’m pretty sure the goal of these designs is to have them be made from one continuous piece of braid, which definitely isn’t the case for the design I came up with. So that’s something to keep in mind for the future.

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Despite the lack of symmetry, I really do like how it looks when the jacket is worn or on my dress form.

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When the back detailing was done I sewed the shoulder seem of the jacket, then cut out the  facing/lapels from silk. This is the same material I used for the pleated portions of the skirt panels and was also used to make the hat.

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The lapels were stiffened with fusible interfacing, then I sewed them into the jacket with the right sides facing each other, trimmed the corners, then turned things the right way out and pinned around the edges.

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I used small whip stitches to secure the layers of fabric together, then ironed the lapel so it was smooth.

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I didn’t figure out a soutache design for the lapels until after they were sewn to the jacket. And at this point I couldn’t use interfacing on the underside of the fabric to transfer the design. So I traced the design onto the tissue paper that comes with interfacing.

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Then pinned that onto the lapels and sewed through it. Once I was done I very carefully ripped the tissue paper away, making sure that I didn’t tear out my stitches.

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And now I had a pattern to follow!

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Here is the jacket after the braid was sewn on. I changed the design up a bit, but it is still very similar to the pattern shown above. I really like the way the green braid pops against the silk, and how it nicely ties in with the detailing on the back of the jacket.

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That is it for this post, but I should have another one up soon showing the finished jacket!

Thanks for reading!

 

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Making an 1890’s Plaid Walking Ensemble, Part One

So my blogging attempts have been abysmal lately, which is pretty obvious if you look at my three week gap between posts. Recently I haven’t been happy with how my projects are going, or my attempts at writing, or the videos i’ve tried to edit. The combination of all those things going poorly has led to a bit of a motivation block, where I don’t feel like working on anything.

But i’m trying to fix that! And i’m also going to attempt to follow a blogging schedule, and a schedule in general since I’m a lot more productive when i’m following lists and trying to reach weekly goals.

Part of my plan to restore my enthusiasm involves starting new projects. And this is one of those new projects. I normally I write about projects after finishing them but today I felt like posting about what i’m currently working on for a change!

For a while now i’ve been itching to make something different from my recent projects. Something where the construction is the main focus. Which is why I decided to make a plaid skirt and  jacket with every seam matching perfectly to create a chevron print. What is more construction focused than that?

It’s based off this ensemble, which is one of my favorite examples of fashion from the 1890s. I’m not trying to recreate it, just using the shape and pattern as inspiration for my own piece. Right now I have no clue what the jacket I plan on making for this project will look like, but I have made good progress on the skirt, which is what this post is about!

For this project i’m using the fake wool that I purchased from Joanns a while back. I have a little more than six yards of this and it was purchased for a total of $24. I’m pairing it with two yards of a silk I purchased a few years ago, which I’m pretty sure cost $16 total. I think including the price of lining materials and basic supplies this project will have a total cost of $50, which is pretty good for a historical ensemble!

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The first step was creating a pattern. Or taking the measurements to create a pattern. I would have liked to cut the skirt as two pieces, with two seams, but I didn’t have enough material for that.  So instead I came up with a six piece pattern with shorter side panels that would have the lower portions pleated. I’ve seen similar things done on lots of dresses from the 1890s and I thought it would help break up overwhelming amount of plaid.

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I turned the measurements into a functional pattern then started laying it out. Each panel has to be bias cut to create the chevron print. Unfortunately this process requires a HUGE amount of fabric and leaves lots of weirdly shaped scraps. I’m really hoping those weirdly shaped scraps can be used for the jacket, otherwise I may not have enough material to complete it!

To make sure everything was cut out on the right angle I drew guidelines onto my pattern pieces. These guidelines were matched up with the underside of a beige line.

Here are two of the pattern pieces laid out.

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I used the pattern for cutting out half the skirt, then used the pieces I cut out as a guide for cutting out the other half. This way I could perfectly line up each piece with the fabrics pattern and ensure that my skirt would be symmetrical and that my seams would match up.

You know you’ve done a good job when it’s difficult to see the piece that’s already cut out because it blends in so well.

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And if everything is done properly the pattern should match pretty well without *too* much effort! Here are the two front panels before I sewed them together.

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Though the pieces line up pretty well, I wanted them to line up perfectly after they were sewn. So I didn’t use pins for this project at all, instead I basted all the pieces together by hand.

For each seam the process was the same. I started by basting the pieces together with wrong sides of the fabric facing each other. I used the plaid pattern as a guide and made sure my needle went through the same points of the pattern on each side.

This was made a bit more challenging by the fact that everything was cut on the fabrics bias, so it shifted around and warped really easily.

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Then I used my machine to straight stitch over the basting stitches. I trimmed the seam allowance down to an eight of an inch and pressed the seam open so it was flat.

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Then the fabric gets folded at that seam line, with the right sides of the fabric facing each other.

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And then the basting process gets repeated!

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 Then I used my machine to sew over the basting stitches and ironed it once again. This is the front seam, so the primary and secondary pattern both line up.

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Unfortunately I didn’t have enough fabric to make all the panels line up this well. The pattern on the side panels only line up in one direction – note how the lighter beige stripes and light grey boxes don’t line up. Luckily this really isn’t noticeable from a distance, since the zig zag pattern is so much more prominent.

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Speaking of the side panels, somewhere along the way I majorly goofed up. After spending hours making sure everything lined up perfectly and getting half the skirt sewn together I realized I cut the back of the skirt out upside down. So the plaid was facing in the wrong direction.

It looks fine from the front!

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But not from the back 😦

My dad kindly drove me to the two nearest Jo-anns but neither of them had any more of this fabric. I didn’t have enough fabric left to recut the back panels, so I decided to add a second side panel instead. Not ideal, but better than nothing.

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I sewed together the two side panels using the same hand basting method. The I turned the hem inward by a half inch and created a facing out of some brown suiting. Most skirts during this period had facings at the hems, or were lined. This added weight to the hems which make the skirts easier to walk in, and makes the skirts lay better against the petticoats.

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I sewed the facing in by hand, then made up some piping. For this I used cotton cord and some green wool that was leftover from my Merida costume. This also got sewn on by hand.

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Now it was time for the pleated panels! I cut out two twenty eight inch by forty eight inch panels of silk. Then I turned the hem inward by a half inch, twice, and sewed the hem by hand.

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And then both panels got knife pleated. I went for one inch knife pleats, which are half an inch deep since I didn’t have enough material for the full depth.

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I pinned the pleated panel on roughly, then pinned it to my dress form and adjusted it so the length was right. Then it got pinned on properly and sewn on with a whip stitch.

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Here is the back of the pleated panels after sewing them on. As you can see there is some excess fabric at the top, which I trimmed down to one inch.

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 Then I folded the trimmed edge inward, so the raw edge was hidden.
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And then I sewed the edge down.

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Now the interior of the side panels looked like this.

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And the outside looked like this.

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And that’s my progress on this so far! I really like how it is coming along. I still have to do up the rest of the skirt seams, hem the front and back panels, add facings, and sew hooks into the back. So it isn’t close to being finished yet, but it’s getting there.

Oh, I should probably also mention that the sloped hem on the side panels is intentional. I thought that would make it look a little bit more interesting, though for some reason I didn’t include that detail in my pattern sketch.

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Now to figure out what the top half of this project will look like…

Thanks for reading!

 

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A look back at 2016

This post is long overdue. I’ve attempted writing it at least a dozen times, and I never get past the first paragraph. But I was determined to get it up before the end of the month, and I managed to make that deadline!

If you hadn’t guessed by the title, this post is an end of the year wrap up where I go through all the projects I made in 2016. I share my thoughts on each one, my thoughts on the year in general, and goals I have for the year to come.

I’ve written posts like this before, both in 2014, and 2015. Those posts were some of my favorite to write because it made me realize all I’d accomplished and gave me motivation moving forward. But I didn’t accomplish as much as I would have liked in 2016, and looking back on it has made me more frustrated than inspired.

It isn’t that the number of costumes I made that I find lacking or upsetting, it’s the amount of time I wasted. There were weeks that passed where I didn’t sew at all because I wasn’t feeling inspired. It made me realize how much I depend on motivation, and how lost I am without it.

As much as it sucks to look back on a year that I wasted a lot of, I learned a lot in 2016, and it’s made me realize ways I can improve in 2017. So it was worth something – and I like a lot of the things I made – it just wasn’t a good year for me.

Now onward with the costumes! I kept a list this year of things I completed, so this should be a bit more accurate than usual.

Then first project I finished got an honorary mention in my 2015 wrap up, since it was mostly finished then. But I put the final touches on it and declared it complete in January. It’s an 18th century riding ensemble, that consists of a skirt, bodice, embellished jacket, and hat.

The dress has some issues that make it unwearable without the jacket (they are fixable, I just spent so long on this project that I can’t bring myself to revisit it and fix it, even though it would only take a day or two) which is a bummer. But I love the jacket, and the hat, and how it works together in the finished ensemble.

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In the same month I also made a set of 1890’s foundation garments, including a petticoat, corset, chemise, and combination set. This is also when I began work on my purple taffeta dress, which I majorly blame for my lack of motivation in the months that followed.

To avoid working on the purple dress, I took on a week long break and made a women’s cotehardie, which was meant to coordinate with the mens cotehardie I made in 2015. The timeline on this dress was tight since I wanted to finish it before we got snow. I think I spent a solid four days working on it before declaring it complete.

I like how it looks visually – the brocade against the blue velvet, the buttons, and the large sequin embellishments. However the rush job shows in the fit of the shoulders and sleeves, which I’m not thrilled about.

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After completing that I was still avoiding my purple taffeta dress. However I had put so much work into the foundation garments for it that I decided to put them to good use and make something from the same era. That something was a turn of the century walking ensemble made from red plaid.

This costume really tested my patience (so much hand basting), but also proved to be a fun challenge (the plaid matching). I learned a lot about construction from this costume (collars!), and even tried a new hand sewing technique with the soutache designs on the collar and back. I stepped outside my comfort zone even further by decorating a home made hat with the wings of a bird.

Even though I struggled with this project at times, I don’t think it shows in the finished costume. And it’s by far my favorite thing I made that year, I really love it.

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Next I finally (after several months) finished the purple taffeta dress. The only thing I like about this costume is the hat. The rest, as far as I’m concerned is scrap material. It’s too tight and short in the bodice, and too long in the hem. The shoulders aren’t wide enough and the waistband is too wide. It’s a mess.

Working on this really sucked all the fun out of sewing and I regret forcing myself to finish it.

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My next costume was much simpler and a refreshing change. It’s a grecian costume that consists of a chiton, skirt, crown, and belt.

This was a costume I had been planning for ages and I was thrilled to finally make it a reality. The dress portion of this was very simple, but I invested a good twenty hours in the belt and crown. They were embroidered and embellished by hand, which took longer than I had expected. But I’m very pleased with the end result – the only thing I want to change is the chiton length, which won’t take more than an hour or two.

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It was around this time that I destroyed my neck while making a massive petticoat for my 1860’s evening gown. I regret pushing myself so hard on that one, and making a petticoat instead of a hoop skirt in the first place! This lead to another downfall in motivation, and I didn’t get much done for almost two months.

I split what little time I spent sewing between my civil war era evening gown, a cycling costume, and an 1860’s day ensemble. The day ensemble was the first to be finished…but I use the term finished loosely. It was supposed to consist of a blouse, skirt, and hat, but the skirt didn’t really work out and I didn’t have enough material to fix it. Which is why I only have waist up photos of this ensemble.

The skirt is a shame, but I do like the parts of this project I finished.

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I took on a quick hand sewing project after that and made a horned headpiece. This took a week or so, and was incredibly fun to work on. I love the variety of materials that can be used in these, and the challenge of bringing the shape to life. It isn’t historically accurate at all, but I think it looks quite believable in a way.

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The ball gown was finished next. This was one of my dream dresses. I worked on it for months and questioned whether I would ever complete it several times. I usually break elaborate projects down into pieces or steps so I don’t get overwhelmed while working on them. I did that with this project too, but there were so many pieces and each one was so time consuming to make that it felt like it would never end.

But eventually I did finish it, and I’m very proud of it. Especially the bodice – I think it’s lovely and it fits perfectly. The skirt doesn’t have quite the right shape, but the amount of hand sewing and work that went into each tier was insane, I’m so pleased I accomplished it. I like the headpiece too, I think it ties all of it together!

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After finishing that I wanted to make something simple that didn’t require an inch of lace. So I followed a pattern from The Cut of Women’s Clothes* and made a 1790’s round robe. This project wasn’t as simple as I had hoped, since I had to remake the bodice and figure out how it was supposed to go together without any instructions.

But I did appreciate the break from frills and lace, and I think the finished dress is quite lovely (though not particularly flattering). I altered a hat to match, and stuck a quilted petticoat under it. The dress was easy to get into and very comfy, which I appreciated!

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Around this time I made a pair of stays – which, like my previous pair of stays, fit horribly. And an 1880’s corset, which looks lovely, but has issues with the busk being out of alignment. Both took far longer to make than I would care to admit, and probably need to be remade in the future. But they did make good bases for things I worked on in the next few months.

I also finished my cycling costume, which had been in progress for weeks before it was complete. I blame the fact this had so many pieces. Including a hat, tie, jacket, shirtwaist, bloomers, shoes, and stockings.

Though it took a while to complete everything, I really like how this turned out. My only peeve is the collar on the shirtwaist. But I find the fit and proportions of this costume quite charming – and once again, it’s super comfy and easy to get into, which is a total bonus.

It was also my first time buying shoes to go with a historical costume, which made such a huge difference in how I felt wearing the costume. It was pretty amazing!

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Next up was my reattempt at an 1890’s day dress. My purple taffeta dress (attempt number one) turned out horribly, and I wanted to redeem myself. So I made a few design changes (which made it look a lot more like the dress that originally inspired me, from Crimson Peak), bought a better fabric, and focused more on the fit. I also referenced historical pattern books and used those as a guide which lead to a way better silhouette.

I like this dress so much more than my first attempt. I wouldn’t say it’s my favorite thing I made this year, but it’s up there. I consider it quite striking.

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I also put together a few dresses for my youtube channel (and posted 40 videos throughout the year, which I’m pretty proud of). My favorite of these is a blue dotted dress inspired by the 1950’s. Researching dresses from this period made me feel excited towards making my own clothes (not just costumes) and potentially creating more 1950’s inspired pieces. Though it isn’t somethings I’ve pursued yet, I’d like to venture into it more in 2017.

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I followed that up with a spur of the moment Donwton Abbey inspired costume made from things I had in my stash. This isn’t the best costume I’ve ever made construction wise, since I have little patience when working with chiffon. But I really enjoy the end result.

It was quite different for me, with the large harem pants and fitted sleeves. The bodice is loosely boned and heavily embellished. Though a lot of work went into it, the whole thing was finished in a week!

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My next costume was a commission, which was quite a big step outside my comfort zone. I was asked to make a light up ball gown for the Scottsdale Princess hotel. This proved to be a challenge, since I had to find Christmas decorations at the start of October, and only had 10 days to construct it. But I got it done, and I managed to correct a lot of the “mistakes” I made when making this dress for myself two years ago.

I’m especially happy with how the bodice of this turned out – I love the sleeves! And I think it’s given me the confidence to potentially take on commissions in 2017.

(the dress isn’t complete in the photo below, but it’s the final photo I took of it on my dress form)

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The next costume is a fun 1830’s ensemble, which consists of a bonnet, top, and skirt. I really enjoyed making this. As much as I like ruffles and lace, it’s nice to focus on the construction and fabric manipulation, which this project requited a lot of. Between the plaid matching, pleats, gathers, and piping, it was a lot of work!

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In October I revisited an 18th century Robe a la Turque I started on much earlier in the year.  It was a very hand sewing heavy project that included home made trim, hand beaded fringe, and a lot of sequins. The project has a vest like dress with a train, a skirt that is visible from the front, and a turban inspired headpiece.

My feelings on this are..mixed. I love the materials and a lot of the details. But the patterning in the bodice could be a lot better. It also needed boning, or some sort of support in the bodice which I didn’t add since I didn’t do a lot of research before starting.

I’ve come a long way since I first started on that project, but a lot of the issues were unfixable by the time I revisited it. So it’s frustrating to see those faults in something I recently completed, since I know I’m better than that.

But from a distance, I think it looks pretty great!

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Another 18th century project I finished is inspired by one worn in The Duchess. I made something inspired by it in 2014 and it was bad. Like really, really, bad. I’ve wanted to reattempt it for a while now, and when I saw this striped silk I new it was time.

There are a few issues with the fit of this dress – It’s a bit tight, and the waistline is too high. I also need to take the underskirt in, it’s got so much volume it flairs over the over skirt, which is a no-no. But I love the trim on this, the stripe matching, and the mobility I have in it. I really learned my lesson from my previous few 18th century attempts. This bodice is lightweight, but well supported so it doesn’t crumple at the sides or back.

I also very much enjoy the matching hat I made. Trying this on really made me feel like an 18th century lady, I was so sad to take it off! Once I make the necessary alterations I want to get more pictures of it.

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In December I made an edwardian evening gown, which I still haven’t got worn photos of. But I really like how this turned out. The construction isn’t my best, but the color, trims, and simplicity of the design make me really happy, and I enjoyed working on it a lot.

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I also made a few headpieces in December, including this antlered one!

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And finally, my Christmas costume. I’ve gone over my thoughts on this recently, and the remain the same. I like it as a finished ensemble, but It’s far from my favorite thing I’ve made this year.

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I also want to give an honorary mention to my 1880’s evening gown. I got this 98% complete (seriously, a hundred hours must have gone into it and it’ll only take two more to finish it)  in 2016 but moved on to other things after Christmas and didn’t complete it. In fact I still haven’t completed it – I got distracted by the materials I got for Christmas. But I will finish it soon, and hopefully have blog posts detailing the construction process following that.

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There are a few other things that I think deserve mentioning in this post, like my attempt at an 1880’s striped bustle dress. And my sequined 1890’s jacket. And a black 16th century gown.  And probably a few other things I’m forgetting that ate up 10 or 20 hours of time but never got completed. I think that was part of my problem this year, when I was lacking motivation I would try to kickstart it by making something new…but I didn’t put a lot of thought into those projects, so they either fizzled out before I reached the half way point, or I realized they didn’t fit or weren’t accurate and never bothered to complete them.

Which brings me into my costume related goals for 2017!

The first one is to try be more diligent. I’m great at working when I’m inspired, but I want to get to a point where I can push myself to work regardless of how motivated I feel. I’m not saying I won’t take breaks, but I don’t want to procrastinate and accomplish next to nothing for several months because I “don’t feel like it”. I did that last year and it sucked.

I’d also like to try and find more balance. I think my procrastination sprees partially happened because I got burnt out or bored. Having projects with a lot of contrast in progress at the same time should help. And I think finding things I enjoy doing outside of sewing would help me relax and feel less burnt out.

Another one would be putting more thought into the projects I take on. A lot of my unsuccessful projects were ones I made on a whim, didn’t sketch first, didn’t research, and didn’t have enough material for. I like taking on spontaneous projects since they can be a lot of fun, but I feel like spending a few hours thinking and researching before getting started would save me materials and time in the long run.

I don’t have project specific goals this year, but I would like to:

Focus more on foundations. I don’t put the effort into these that they deserve, I’d love to have a corset and petticoat that I’m really proud of and fit well. And potentially a chemise with some embroidered details.

Venture into other eras and silhouettes. I gained a new appreciation for the late 1800’s this year and challenged myself quite a lot with dresses from that period. I’d love to push myself even more and make a bustle dress, regency gown, and something elizabethan.

Remember my love of simplicity. I tend to forget how much I enjoy projects that are construction based. I love ruffles too, and I tend to be most attracted to projects that have lots of them. But I really enjoy making simple kirtles and structured jackets. I’d like to keep that in mind this year and potentially make an Edwardian suit, or more casual wear from the 1500s/1600s.

A bit of a silly “goal” – but I would really like to have a dress from every decade of the 1800s. I have dresses from the 1830s, 1860s, 1880s, and 1890s. Along with materials for dresses from the 1820’s, 1840’s, 1850’s, and 1870’s. It isn’t something I’ll push really hard to accomplish, but I should be able to do it and I would be thrilled if I did.

And that’s it! Thanks for reading. I hope you had a productive 2016 and that the first month of this year has served you well.

 
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Posted by on January 31, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

Making a Taffeta Dress, 1890’s Inspired, Part Three

This is one of those posts i’ve put off writing (much like all the posts to do with this dress…) since this didn’t turn out the way I’d hoped. Which is disappointing, but not surprising to me. A dress this simple shouldn’t take six months of on and off work to complete. The fact that it took so long shows me that I wasn’t excited to work on it, and there is usually a reason for that!

Like the dress being a total failure. Okay I learned some stuff, so it isn’t a total failure. But it’s pretty close.

The last post about this project showed the making of the skirt, and the post before that shows the construction of the bodice. Which means all I had left to do was make the sleeves. I started by drafting a simple wrist to elbow pattern, with a point at the center.

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The other portion of the sleeve is a massive rectangular-ish block that will be gathered down into a very full puff sleeve. You can tell I drafted these myself because they are symmetrical (rather than having a steeper curve at the front, and a more gradual one at the back) which is very unusual for historical sleeve patterns (and sleeves in general).

It’s also a bit unusual to draft sleeves from this period with a seam between the lower and upper portions. I chose to do this since the original plan was to wear this dress underneath a jacket, and I wanted to avoid additional bulk around the wrists which mutton leg sleeves tend to have.

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The puff sleeves were bag lined with the lightest weight lining I could find.

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Then turned the right way out and gathered across the bottom edge.

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I added interfacing to the points of the lower sleeves, so that edge would stay defined. Then I turned the top edge inward by a half inch and stitched it down by hand.

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I trimmed the top edge with lace, then stitched it onto the sleeve.

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The sleeves seemed to be missing something, so I chose to do a bit of beading. The beading design is the same one I used on the neckline of the bodice.

I also ended up making a tutorial on how to do this, if you’re interested it can be watched here!

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Now the back seam was done up with a half inch seam allowance and I lined the lower portion of the sleeve.

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I actually really like how these turned out – even though the fit isn’t the best. I think the beading design compliments this fabric nicely and the sleeves are perfectly puffy.

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I made the decision to leave the hem of the sleeves raw since I had originally planned on adding cuffs. The cuffs were supposed to be made from these beautiful satin collar pieces that have a winding soutache pattern on them.

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I even spend many hours beading the design to make them more elaborate. I love how they turned out, but they ended up being too large and bulky for this costume. They cut the arm off in a weird way and look too stark against the purple. So they have been stashed away and are being saved for another day.

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Then I gathered the top edge of the sleeves down and played around with some quilt batting to make sure they could take on the shape I wanted.

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And finally, they were sewn onto the bodice by hand. This was a pain the ass since polyester taffeta sucks to hand stitch through. It’s so densely woven that the eye of the needle seemed to prefer going through my finger rather than the fabric. But I got there in the end! At this point it actually looked pretty good.

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Here is the bodice tried on over the original partial shirtwaist thing. I decided after this fitting that it was too casual looking, so I made a new one from silk satin.

This is also when I realized that there were some big fit issues. I’m not sure if you can tell, but it was very tight across the chest. Not to a point where it strained, but the it was obvious in person that it was too small. Because of this the bodice couldn’t be pulled down far enough for it to sit at the proper waistline. I kind of ignored these issues at the time – I thought once the skirt was on it would pull the bodice down and it would be fine.

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Since the bodice wasn’t where it was supposed to be, it gives and awkward side profile as well. The volume is supposed to be right above the waist, which makes the waist look smaller. But this just made the area below my chest look massive. Once again I assumed it would be fine after attaching the skirt.

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And the back. This looked a lot worse in person, too. The back panels were cut on a different grainline from the rest of the bodice, and the difference in sheen was very obvious. It also strained horribly across the back. This is partially because it’s a bit too small, but I think flatlining it with a different fabric would have avoided this. Polyester taffeta just doesn’t look good when strained.

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After this fitting – and making a different garment to wear underneath it, I switched out the buttons for vintage glass buttons that matched the beading. A much better fit than the gold ones I used before!

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The skirt and bodice were both sewn onto a strip of interfaced cotton, with the raw edges facing outward. The waistband will cover these edges.

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And speaking of the waistband, that was made from a pattern that looked like this!

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My first attempt was lined with flannel (why did I do that?) and was also too small. The second attempt was lined with cotton and a half inch bigger, which made a huge difference! This was sewn onto the dress by hand, and that was IT for the dress.

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Unfortunately sewing it all together didn’t magically fix the bodice fit issues. It’s really tight across the chest. Like a whole inch too tight. I can wear it, but it  can’t be pulled down low enough for the belt to sit at my actual waistline. The waist of the dress is too small as well – To get it done up I had to wear it with my 1860’s corset, which is too short waisted for the dress to sit nicely overtop of it.

Also the closure method for this dress was stupid. I decided to add hooks down the side, with buttons down half the back. If this had worked, it would have meant I could get into the dress without help. But the back didn’t open enough, and I ended up needing help just to get it over my head! Plus the lack of mobility from the sleeves meant I couldn’t do up the closures.

And that’s not even mentioning the puckering at the back and hem length. One of those things is fixable, but i’m not sure I can be bothered.

Here it is worn without the undershirt.

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The closures on the side didn’t end up being hidden, since the bodice was tight the hooks (though done up) caused the fabric to gape. You can slo see the strap of the bodice sitting away from my shoulder, which is because the bodice can’t be pulled down properly.

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The dress is too long waisted in the back, causing the puckers to look even worse. But on the bright side, I really like the gathers at the back of the skirt. They looked a bit rough up close but I would consider using that technique again on a different project.

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Is this dress fixable? Probably. But it would involve removing the sleeves and skirt, adding panels to the side of the bodice (though there is enough room to let it out, this fabric shows needle marks), adding additional closures to the back of the bodice/switching the skirt to a back closure, regathering the skirt, and hemming it. And it’s really not worth the time and effort that would take.

Looking back it’s easy for me to see where this dress went wrong – there were a lot of poor decisions and mistakes, one after the other. But it happens sometimes – ecspecially when learning, and adventuring into a new era so i’m not going to mope about it.

I’m actually really excited to put what I learned from this project into a attempting a better dress, which will have a similar silhouette and belong to the same era, but is a completely different design (that resembles the original inspiration for this dress quite closely). But i’ll talk more about that next week!

Before signing off I just wanted to show you the hat I made to pair with this. I based it on an edwardian design since I thought a larger hat would look better with the proprotions of this dress, even though it isn’t accurate to the 1890’s. The brim is buckram with three bands of wire.

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And the cap is interfacing, cut from this pattern and edged with wire.

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All the pieces were covered with taffeta and stitched together.

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The interior is lined with muslin, and the brim is lined with gathered tulle and satin ribbon.

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The exterior is trimmed with some fake flowers and a huge feather! The hat is honestly my favorite part of this project – I feel like I magically turn into a stuffy rich old lady when I wear it. And I mean that in the best way.

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This was my first time using leaves on a hat in addition to the flowers, but I really like it. It doesn’t make the flowers look more realistic exactly, but it certainly adds more interest!

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And that’s it! Thanks for reading!

 

Making an 1890’s Cycling Costume, Part One

So it’s been a while! Sorry about that, none of my projects were in a good stage to write about so I decided to take a week off. But now i’m back, with new projects and lots to blog about!

Todays project is one i’ve had planned for ages but didn’t get the material for until recently. It’s a late 19th century cycling costume that consists of a jacket, pair of bloomers, shirtwaist, and hat. I’d originally planned on making the costume without a jacket, and basing it almost entirely on this ensemble.

But then I was contacted by organiccottonplus.com who asked if i’d be interested in reviewing one of their materials, and they had a wool herringbone that went perfectly with the fabrics I had already purchased for this project. So I decided to add another piece to the costume, and i’m really glad I did because I think it turned out wonderfully!

Eventually the jacket will look like this, but this post is just about the beginning stages of making it.

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I’ll talk about materials first. The bloomers will be made from a plaid flannel shirting and the shirtwaist from a striped cotton. The shirtwaist will close with snaps and vintage shell buttons. For the jacket I purchased black buttons from Joanns in the style 219. I also have some grey ribbon to make a tie out of, and plain black wool for the matching hat, but neither of those are pictured.

The jacket will be made from two yards of that wool herringbone I mentioned, in the grey/black variation from OrganicCottonPlus.com.

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really like this fabric, and i’m not saying that because I was sent it. It’s the type of material I would pick up if I saw it in a shop because it has a really beautiful subtle texture and print to it. I think fabrics like this make a relatively plain jacket look a lot more interesting without overwhelming the design.

I was a bit worried when I ordered this that the grey/black would have too much contrast, but that wasn’t a problem at all. The color variation adds a lot of depth to the material without making the print look busy.

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It’s thicker than a typical suiting but not so heavy that it’s difficult to work with. I actually quite like the weight of it, since it makes the jacket look a bit sturdier which fits the purpose a cycling/sporting jacket would have in the 1890s.

Overall it was really nice to work with and I love the texture it has! It’s a bit outside the price I would usually pay for fabric, but I think it’s reasonably priced considering it’s 100% wool and made in the USA. The listing for it is here if you’re interested.

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Now onto the making and designing of the jacket!

The most difficult part of this project was coming up with the design. I didn’t have enough material for a double breasted jacket (which were the most common), the jackets that buttoned at the front were a bit more modern looking then I wanted, and the open front jackets looked quite similar to the plaid jacket I made recently.

After looking through dozens of pinterest boards and books I decided to flip through the vintage magazine my Great Aunt sent me and I found a perfect design on the first page! It has the big leg of mutton sleeves I wanted, a flared skirt, and a really interesting boxy lapel.

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I made a few small changes to that design and decided on some interesting back seaming. Then I sketched it all out so I would have a better reference to look at when draping.

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The draping process took a while since I kept changing things, but it wasn’t too difficult. The only part I struggled with was getting the collar to look right. The proportions in my reference photo and sketch wouldn’t transfer onto the dress form so it ended up being a bit higher and less boxy than I had wanted.

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All the pieces were unpinned from the form and ironed.

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Then I transferred them onto paper.  I lowered the waistline of each piece by a half inch, made the flares a bit bigger, smoothed out uneven edges, and added seam allowances. Here is the finished pattern.

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I  made a mock up for it and tried it on. The side seam needed to be taken in, but I was expecting that because my shape when  wearing a corset is very different from the shape of my dress form. There were a few other minor alterations like making the arm openings more narrow and lowering the hemline, easy stuff.

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I’d originally planned on adding an extra inch and a half to the hem so the length would be similar to my reference photo. But after making the mock up I realized how much fabric this pattern takes to create, and I didn’t think I would have enough material to accommodate the hem addition and big leg of mutton sleeves.

So I only lengthened the pieces by a half inch. And after the other alterations were made I pinned my pattern in place. As I did this I made sure each piece lined up with the grain line and herringbone print.

After pinning everything down I had six inches of fabric left over – and that’s before cutting out the lapel lining and collar. So it was a little bit tight, but a better end result than I was expecting. I thought I might have to take down the sleeve volume which would have been a shame!

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The lapel lining was cut out as two pieces, cutting it the other way would have the herringbone print going horizontally and I didn’t want that. This seam wasn’t visible in the end anyway.

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Here are all the pieces (except for the sleeves – i’ll talk about those in part two) cut out!

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And here is the lining cut out – i’m using a polka dot quilters cotton because the print made me happy!

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Then the pieces got sewn together. I sewed all the back panels together, and the two front panels together, but left the side and shoulder seams open to make the lapel and collar easier to sew.

 This is before ironing, but right away you can see the shape start to form!

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It looks extra snazzy on the dress form. I really love the flared back seaming, it’s easy to do but looks so pretty.

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With the back done I moved on to the lapels and collar. I learned on my last  jacket that these should be done as part of assembly, not an afterthought.

So I went ahead and fused interfacing to the wrong side of the front panels, the lapel lining, the collar, and the collar lining. I made sure the interfacing didn’t extend into the seam allowance since I didn’t want bulky edges.

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Then I pinned the collar to half the shoulder seam, which was pretty much the most confusing thing ever. I kept trying it on and repinning things to make sure I had it right.

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The seam was sewn then ironed so everything was flat – here is the shape of the lapel/collar lining.

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The lining was pinned to the right side of the front panels, then sewn in place with a half inch seam allowance.

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I clipped the corners and turned the jacket the right way out. Then I used a colored pencil to make sure all the edges were nice and pointy and pinned them in place.

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This went so much better this time (yay for figuring out correct sewing order!). I also left enough room for the collar to turn outward, so I didn’t need to sew on an extension like I did with my plaid jacket. It’s always nice when you can learn from past mistakes!

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I sewed around the edge by hand with small running stitches and that was pretty much it!

Even though I didn’t love how it looked on the mock up, I really like how the collar shape turned out.

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 I did end up trimming the hem a bit at the sides, since it dipped lower there than at the back which looked kind of odd.

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Look at those seams, I love them.

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And that is everything for this post! Next time i’ll talk about the sleeves and finishing details.

Thanks for reading!

 

 

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Fabric Haul, April 2016

Today’s post is an exciting one…or at least it’s exciting for me, because it’s a fabric haul! Which means new materials and new projects to work on.

The week before my birthday my dad and I went into the garment district and this is what I got during that trip – plus a few Jo-anns purchases since I couldn’t find everything I wanted in NYC.

This post is a bit different than usual, since I don’t have many sketches to share. Most of my future plans are in the idea stage and haven’t been transferred to paper yet, or are based off of paintings. But i’ll do my best to describe each project and include my inspiration photos!

Here is my swatch sheet that I made after getting home. I managed to get (almost) everything I need for seven projects which is fantastic.

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Now lets go through them in detail!

The first fabric I bought is for an Elizabethan ensemble based on this painting of Anne of Denmark. I plan on following the silhouette and detailing quite closely, but i’ll be making a few changes, as I always do. I’ve been wanting to take on an Elizabethan project since I got “In Fine Style: The Art of Tudor and Stuart Fashion” for Christmas, and this seemed like a good piece to start with.

I’d hoped to find a fabric with a larger, more subtle pattern, but I didn’t see any others that were green so at the end of the day I came back to this one and bought eight yards. It isn’t quite what I had in mind, but I do really like it! I just hope it isn’t too overwhelming once I make a full dress out of it!

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To go along with that I bought buttons! I don’t think metal buttons are very accurate for this period, but I fell in love with the shape and details of these so I bought them anyway. I thought I would have to order buttons for this, so finding ones in person was a pleasant surprise!

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This costume will mostly be trimmed with lace, which I already own and small gold ribbon, which i’ve ordered online. But I came across this gold/green cording which I thought would look nice on the bodice, so I got three yards. I also picked up two yards of velvet ribbon for the rosettes and two orange pheasant feathers for the hat!

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For the partlet and ruff I got a sheer cotton fabric. This is a really neat fabric considering it’s weight and color. It has a subtle plaid pattern  woven through it and parts of it have a sheen almost like mirror organza.

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From Diana Fabrics I got a plain cotton striped shirting, which is for a cycling ensemble I plan on making soon. I already have the other materials for this project (buttons for the shirt, plaid for the pants, and wool for the hat) so now I can get started!

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Also from Diana Fabrics I bought three yards of this striped silk taffeta. I love this fabric, unfortunately I didn’t buy enough of it to actually use it. I thought it matched another fabric I bought and would work for an 1880s bustle dress but it doesn’t at all. Hopefully on my next trip in they will still have it, then I can get another two yards and have enough for an 18th century Robe a La Langlaise!

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Speaking of the 18th century, I got a whole bunch of fabrics for an ensemble from that period. This is based on a few paintings from the late 1700’s and incorporates the loose wrapped headpiece (“turban”) trend that was popular at this point in time.

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I wanted this costume to have a warm color scheme and incorporate textured metallic fabrics, so when I saw this I grabbed it up right away! It’s a striped organza made from pink and gold threads so it has a two tone shift. It’s really striking in person, and might be a bit overwhelming, but I love it a lot.

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I tried to find a striped material that would compliment the organza, but they were all out of my price range. And the silks I found were a little more textured or pink than I wanted, so I went for a polyester shantung instead. It’s a light copper color that looks gorgeous with the organza. I got this at Amin fabrics, along with a few yards of pink taffeta which is a base for the organza.

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Since I couldn’t find a striped fabric I went back to the shop where I bought the organza (Zahra fabrics) and got two yards of a similar material, just in a different print. I’m going to use this for ruffled trim, which will hopefully jazz up the slightly boring shantung!

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Here are the materials all together, and you can see how the striped fabric looks over the pink taffeta.

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At a trim shop I found some pretty organza ribbons that were a dollar a yard, so I bought two yards of each. I think one of these might work as a sash for the costume,  and even if they don’t I’ll find a use for them someday!

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At Zahra fabrics I got four yards of an orchid colored satin faced chiffon. This is for a grecian inspired project I want to make soon – it won’t be historically accurate at all, but it will be very pretty!

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They also has a textured silk that I really liked, and matched the color scheme I had going, so I got a yard of it.

The final fabric for this project (on left) is a plain linen that I bought from Jo-ann’s. I’d hoped to find a foiled linen that had gold flecks in it, or something more interesting, but didn’t see anything like that. And when it comes to plain linen, it’s cheaper to buy it from Jo-ann’s with coupons than in the garment district.

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For the same project I got a bunch of beads and sequins from Beads World. I’d like to make a crown or shoulder piece with a floral pattern, and I thought these would work well for that.

Even though i’m not completely sure what this project will look like I really love the color palettes and fabrics I ended up getting for it. It’s made me realize that I don’t work with purple fabrics often enough!

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These things weren’t on my list, but they had them in the sale section at the front and I couldn’t resist. I use gold beads all the time so I thought these would be a good addition to my collection, and the leaves were too pretty to pass up! Ecspecially at $2 a bag.

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I also got some red beads and a tiny crochet hook. I’m going to attempt to teach myself the process of crocheting a beaded rope, and thought these would be good to start with!

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At Hamed Fabrics I came across a striped home decor fabric and fell in love. I had no idea what to do with it until I remembered this fashion plate. This project was on my list of tentative plans, but I didn’t think I would find a fabric in my price range that would work for this.

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But clearly I was wrong, because this is perfect. It’s a dark pink organza with opaque stripes that are outlined in gold. It’s such a pretty color, the texture is lovely, and looks gorgeous when it’s gathered.

Best of all is that it’s 120″ wide so I only had to buy five and a half yards, which came to a total cost of fifty five dollars.

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To go underneath that I bought a polyester taffeta (on left) and as a contrasting fabric for piping and bows I got a pinstriped gold fabric. These all look wonderful together and i’m really excited to use them.

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From the same shop I found a striped polyester organza with opaque off white stripes. This was another fabric I was happy to find, since it reminds me of the ones used for this Chemise a la Reine. I plan on making something inspired by that painting and some of my favorite John Hoppner works from that period (like this and this). The end result will probably be a very light, yet structured dress.

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I bought some shantung to go underneath it, but I might use a  lighter weight fabric as a base to keep the gauzy effect.

I also got two yards of silk taffeta to create a sash and trim the hat. This taffeta is the exact same one I used for my Royal Milk Tea costume back in the day, and was also used to trim a Chemise a la Reine-ish dress I made a couple years ago!

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From Amin Fabrics I bought this soft dotted net, which i’ll use to make neckerchiefs for a few projects. And at Zahra fabrics I found the same maroon/brown material I bought a few years ago. When I purchased this the first time it was for an 18th century project that ended in total failure, then the remaining yardage was used for my 1890s Paid Ensemble. I loved that fabric a lot and was sad to use it up, so I jumped at the opportunity to get more of it.

I bought three yards and I think i’ll reattempt that 18th Century project someday – three yards should be plenty for a jacket.

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Another good find from Zahra fabrics was this brocade. It’s the same type of material as the one I purchased for the Elizabethan project, but is in a much brighter shamrock green that my camera refuses to do justice. It has gold stripes woven throughout and is ridiculously pretty.

Unfortunately they only had three and a half yards, which isn’t enough for the dress I had in mind. But I bought it anyway and am determined to do something with it someday!

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From the same shop I got four yards of dark green satin faced chiffon (on left) and two yards of a striped jacquard. I was going to use the chiffon for an edwardian dress, but didn’t find any lace that matches it. So I need to browse etsy for something that will work, or put the project on hold for now.

The jacquard was supposed to be for a bustle dress, but I didn’t find anything that matches it. So that’s on hold for now as well!

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A project I did manage to get all the materials for is a very simple Victorian riding habit. I’d never seen one of these before but fell in love when I saw this picture. I’m not sure why I like it so much, but I think it’s very striking!

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I must have looked at hundreds of black suitings before picking this one. I wanted something that would look nice when it was draped and this is the only one I found that had a subtle sheen to it and was in the weight I needed. So I got six yards, which should be plenty.

I also found some filigree metal buttons on etsy which probably aren’t accurate, but should add some Victorian flair to this simple design.

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At Joann’s I got a yard of white cotton sateen, which i’ll use for the collars and cuff. And at Hai Trimmings I bought a bundle of rooster feathers for the hat. I fell in love with these last time I went in but didn’t want to buy them without a purpose, so I was happy to finally have a use for them!

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From Hai Trims I also got more of these resin “stones”.I bought orange ones on my last visit to the garment district, and couldn’t resist getting more this time around. I picked up three packets of the blue ones…

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And three packets of the green ones.

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The last notion-y things I bought are fluffy ostrich feathers – three in a warm white color, one in ivory.

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And a bunch of smaller ones in a warm white, plus two raspberry colored ones. I have a couple projects in mind that require light colored feathers, but I mostly got these just for the sake of having them around.

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The raspberry colored ones were bought for an Edwardian project (inspired by this), but I didn’t find velvet in the color I wanted so that project is on hold for now. However I did find this lace, which is hideous in that kitschy way that makes it perfect for something from the early 1900s, so I bought a yard of it with that project in mind.

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I bought a bit of red cotton sateen just for the hell of it. I thought this might be fun for an 1830s dress, similar to this one. I’ve used this material for a few projects in the past and it’s great to work with and super cheap, so getting more seemed like a good idea even without a plan in mind!

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The final two fabrics I bought are for a dress based off this one. I came across this dress recently and was immediately obsessed with it. The shape! The flowers! The draping! And the ruffles…what more could you want?

I’m not sure why but right away I knew I wanted this dress to be made from velvet. I planned on using black velvet for the dress, but the draping isn’t very visible on black, and the other dark colors (brown, blue, purple) weren’t as elegant as I liked. I wanted green, but couldn’t find any, so I choose this dark raspberry colored one. If it looks familiar that’s probably because I bought some on my last trip for a different project.

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To trim the dress I bought silk satin. The edges of this are slightly discolored, which I’m frustrated by, but it seems to be unavoidable when buying ivory fabric from the garment district (I swear the shop lighting hides all fabric flaws).

For the ruffles of this dress I bought matte black tulle, which I think go nicely with the silk and velvet.

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That is everything from the garment district but I did make a few sneaky Joanns purchases that I wanted to include. On my most recent trip there I was really impressed by the new (summer?) collections and trim selection – everything was nicely stocked for once and I saw a lot that I really liked.

I ended up getting five yards of pink chiffon that has an iridescent vine pattern on it. When it catches the light it reflects all the colors you can imagine. It’s really, really pretty. Probably one of my favorite fabrics I’ve ever seen. I got two yards of it in an off white color as well.

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Then to go with that I bought one yard of a textured organza. This has satin flecks in it, a mottled pattern, and glitter woven into the base. This one was ridiculously priced ($30 a yard!) but with coupons it was half that, and a little more justifiable. I have no idea what i’ll use these for but I see some sort of medieval inspired dress that looks like a bridesmaid gown in their future…

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The last thing I bought was this trim! Which I was also very impressed with. I got two yards of it which is enough to edge the cuffs/waist of a dress. Not sure what it will get used for either, but I liked it enough that I didn’t care!

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And that’s everything! I’m currently working on my Civil War Era evening gown and a few other projects so I won’t be using any of these materials in the immediate future, but they will be making more appearances on my blog soon!

Thanks for reading!

 
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Posted by on May 6, 2016 in Reviews & Hauls

 

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