It’s been a while since i’ve done one of these, my last one was back in August so this is long overdue! I have a lot to share, so I have a feeling that this post will be really long and all over the place. Sorry about that.
If you are new to this type of post, Progress Reports are a monthly round up of what i’ve been working on, what i’ve purchased, and what I plan to start working on soon.
I’m not going to talk too much about what i’ve finished in the past few months. Partially because I can’t really remember since i’ve had so much in progress recently. But mostly because the year is almost over, which means my “Year in Review” post will be up soon and in that i’ll be talking about everything i’ve finished this year.
So I won’t bore you with that information twice. But I do want to mention the projects I managed to get photographed this month, since i’m quite happy about those!
I made an escoffin and matching maroon dress to create a medieval ensemble. I’m really happy with how this turned out and I love the photos of it, I think they are quite striking. Unfortunately i’ve been really slow when it comes to editing photos, so I still don’t have this set completely finished…or any of the photosets. Hopefully i’ll get them done soon!
We also photographed my Damask Print Medieval Dress. I don’t like how this dress turned out, and the photos were a it of a flop. Most had weird shadows in them and the best ones of the bunch were taken with a flash – which made my eyes look really dead. But I do like this photo, it really shows off how pretty these fabrics are in sunlight.
And I FINALLY got photos of my Civil War Era Dress! I adore this costume, it was one of my favorite things that I made in 2014. Unfortunately I never got photos of it, or made a petticoat to go with it, or even finished blogging about it!
I still have all the progress photos of it, so a long overdue post about making the skirt and headpiece will be up in the coming months.
In the mean time, look at all the pieces together! I’m still thrilled by how this project turned out. The fit, the sleeves, and the fabric, I love it all.
I didn’t end up making a petticoat to go with this dress, instead I layered petticoats over my farthingale, which has an elliptical shape similar to large dresses from the mid 19th century. It wasn’t pretty, but I got a decent silhouette out of it.
Then I re-hemmed the skirt so it sits properly over it and made the half bonnet from lace and matching green fabric. I think it finishes off the look nicely.
Since i’m talking about photographing finished projects I think I should mention this years Christmas Project, which I finished a few days ago. My dad and I went out to the Christmas Tree Lot (for the third year in a row) and took some pictures. Last year this was a bit of a fail, but this year they turned out wonderfully. I’m not ready to share any of them yet, but here is a little preview of the costume!
I’ve made Christmas inspired dresses for the last few years, and usually the ideas for them are easy to come by. That didn’t happen this year. Coming up with a concept was really hard, and I ended up going for something quite simple. But I do like how it turned out. The construction process went really nicely and I think the dress is very cute, even if it isn’t as exciting as the dress I made last year.
I used gold brocade from my stash as a base, some beads in matching colors, and red ribbon for a pop of color. I took some color inspiration from these little velvet birds I found at Joanns. I found the contrast between the red and white really striking, and I wanted to do something similar.
I won’t ramble on about it too much since a “The Making of” post about the process is going up tomorrow, but here are the things from the Joanns trip that helped inspire this dress.
I ended up using some of the materials I got to create another seasonal crown (yet again, for the third year in a row). I’m very pleased with how this turned out as well, I added some battery powered lights to it and I think the whole thing looks magical. I can’t wait to get worn photos of it!
I did film a video tutorial on the process, but i’m not sure when it will be going up.
I also got a few other bits and pieces from Joanns, thanks to Black Friday sales, so i’ll share those as well.
I got six yards fake wool flannel for $24 – which I think is an absolute steal. I love this fabric, It’s what I used for my Civil War Era dress and the texture of it is wonderful. Unfortunately they didn’t have the best color selection, or enough fabric left in most colors for me to do something great with it. But I do like the one I bought.
I also got four yards of a sari fabric and a yard of this textured stretch fabric. Not sure what i’m going to do with any of these materials, but I really like all of them!
These next few things I didn’t buy, they were a gift from my Great Aunt. She gave them onto me a few months ago when my family was visiting Canada to attend a wedding.
She got these from an auction at a theater that was shutting down. They are all vintage costume and sewing books – I think they were all printed before the 1960s, some as early as 1907.
The first few are a set of textbooks from the 1920s, which were created by Mary Picken for the Women’s Institute of Domestic Arts and Sciences. I haven’t read through them all just yet, but i’m really impressed by them. They explain a huge variety of techniques in really simple terms that makes the most complicated of things pretty easy to follow.
The other books are specific to costumes and historical dress. Again, I haven’t read these through yet but i’ve enjoyed browsing them! And I will take the time to read them cover to cover soon.
They are all well balanced between photos and text, which I appreciate since i’m a very visual person.
Now lets talk about some things in progress. Of which I have plenty. I decided at the start of December that I wanted to finish five projects before the new year. Five! In a month! As you can probably imagine my to-do list has been looking really overwhelming since I made that decision. I have managed to get a bunch of things crossed off in the last week, but here you can see it in it’s original state.
So many things.
I want to start fresh in the new year, and be able to focus on new projects without these weighing me down. Not that I dislike the projects, but I know when January rolls around i’ll be ready to work on something new. So I’d like to get these things finished first.
But that is easier said than done.
The project i’m closest to finishing is my Cotehardie ensemble. If you’ve seen my last post than you’ll know I finished the cotehardie part of this and i’m pretty happy with the outcome.
But that piece is one of many. I still have to finish the crown and mantle which go along with it. Luckily i’ve finished the shoes which were the part I was really scared of, and the leggings. If I remade either of these things I would do them a bit differently, but for the most part i’m happy with them.
A blog post about these should be up soon – these were a step (ha!) outside of my comfort zone, so I think they will be fun to write about!
The dagged edges on the mantle are what slowed me down, but they are done now so the rest should go quickly!
The crown is…well the crown isn’t going too well, but hopefully I can get that figured out soon and have the whole thing done!
My next “almost done” project is a Burgundian Dress. This project has actually been going quite well, though i’ve hit a bit of a setback because I don’t have enough trim to hem the skirt with…and the trim is discontinued, so I can’t get more of it, which means I have to take in my pretty skirt. I’m annoyed by that even though it’s my fault for measuring wrong.
Aside from that, all the difficult parts of this project are done, but it’s usually the easy finishing bits that take me ages, so i’m not sure when it will get finished.
That dress will be paired with a Medieval Hennin, which I finished this month. It’s made from matching fabric with a chiffon veil and lots of pretty beaded trimming.
I don’t think the chiffon matches very well, I’ll definitely be on a lookout for a lighter, more grey toned chiffon next time i’m in NYC. But it works fine for now!
The Burgundian dress is worn over a kirtle, which i’ve also finished. It’s made out of the most annoying brocade ever but I think it turned out quite nicely. Here is a WIP of it, from before I added the sleeves and trimming.
I don’t want to give away too much about these projects since I really want to write detailed blog posts about all of them, but i’m so far behind with my blog that those posts probably won’t go up for another month or two. 😦
The third project is already done, and that’s my Christmas project. As I said earlier blog posts about that will be up really soon, so i’ll talk more about it there.
Unfortunately my other two projects that I want to finish haven’t been going as well. The first one is a 1630s ensemble that i’m becoming quite frustrated with. First the shoulder didn’t fit, then I fixed that and realized the bodice was too short waisted. I spent many hours hand sewing the strips for paned sleeves only to realize they are the wrong length and the arm hole isn’t wide enough.
This week I started work on a matching chemise to go under it and the sleeves for that are too full and short even though I triple checked the length. It’s like this project is refusing to go well!
I think i’m going to have to completely start over…but my motivation towards this project is fading, and i’m not sure I can remake it without giving up. It’s such a shame since this is my favorite style of gown ever, I’ve been so excited to make one and now that I am it’s going horribly.
It could turn itself around, and I haven’t given up on it yet, but i’m certainly not happy with it at the moment!
Here are the pieces bound together, you can see how shoddy the shoulders are due to crazy alterations. I’m also not happy with my choice to have the bodice close at the front, if I redo this it’ll have lacing in one of the back seams.
The chemise might not fit nicely under this dress, but it looks pretty so far! I’m using a lovely lace fabric over white chiffon and embellishing it with iridescent white sequins.
The sleeves cuffs are finished with more sequins and some iridescent braided trim.
The other project i’m determined to finish this year hasn’t been touched in months, even though it’s close to being done. It’s an 18th century gown that will be worn over a chemise, stays, and pocket hoops. The gown has wide lace across the hem and will be worn with a riding coat and hat.
I started on it this summer and it hasn’t changed much since then. The underthings were done, but i’ve realized I need to remake the chemise from lighter fabric and take the stays in so they are smaller.
The bodice is almost done, it’s just missing sleeves. And the skirt is almost finished as well, I just have to finish sewing on the lace.
But the jacket and hat? No clue how to make those or what the patterns will look like. I haven’t even thought about it. But I know the beading and detailing will take time so I want to get started soon. I need to have a research day and figure out what this costume is even going to look like, then get my butt in gear and actually finish it!
I think my goals for this month might be a little bit too ambitious. We’ll just have to wait and see if I can accomplish them.
Oh! I’m also working on a velvet kirtle, but i’m honestly not feeling very excited about this project and I don’t see myself finishing it this year. I don’t dislike it, it’s just boring. It will eventually have a cartridge pleated skirt, small sleeve rolls at the shoulder, long velvet sleeves and white cuffs. I’d like to pair it with a damask print vest and hat as well, but I don’t see any of that happening any time soon.
I made the smock this month as well. I used three yards of a really neat metallic chiffon and it has a gorgeous sheen to it.
With all the stuff I have in progress out of the way, lets talk about the future! I’m going into NYC to spend my Christmas money soon and I have big plans. Okay that is kind of a lie – I don’t have any plans because I haven’t researched anything yet, but I have big ideas!
I’ve been watching Downton Abbey recently and it’s given me an appreciation for fashion from that era that I didn’t have a few months ago. I’ve always considered the silhouettes and styles from the late 19th/early 20th century to be quite…ugly, and unflattering. They still aren’t my favorite but i’ve definitely found a few gowns from those times that I love. And the challenge of working on designs from an era I haven’t worked on or researched before has me excited.
I’ll be doing historical research of course, but thanks to the dresses in Downton Abbey and the costume design for Crimson Peaks i’ve decided an Edwardian day dress, hat, matching cloak, and sparkly evening dress are all in my future. I’d also like to look into making a flapper dress, but I feel like the shape of them would look awful on me
In addition to those plans I’ll be searching for some wool to make a large cloak to wear over my Silvery Blue Dress for a photoshoot in the snow.
And though I won’t be shopping for it on this trip into NYC, I think a 1880s bustle dress might be in my future as well. Which probably doesn’t sound odd to you guys, but I’m a bit shocked to be saying that! A year ago I would have sworn that I would never make anything from that period. How things change!
I also have a few menswear projects on my upcoming “to sew” list. I picked up these shoes from a modcloth sale because they reminded me of 18th century footwear. They are really inaccurate but I don’t care. I have some blue jacquard fabric that matches them nicely, and some blue velvet laying around. So i’m totally going to make a horribly tacky menswear inspired 18th century ensemble and wear these with it. I can’t wait.
I’d also like to make a 19th century court dress from the embroidered blue velvet I got last year. And I have some gold trim and taffeta that I’d love to use for a matching menswear ensemble from the same period.
Though i’m not super excited about this one, because i’ve made similar things in the last month, I want to make the women’s cotehardie ensemble I bought fabric for a few months ago. I want to photograph it in the snow, which means it will be at the top of my project list for January!
The one i’m most excited about is a civil war era ball gown. I bought cotton sateen and lace for this a few years ago but it wasn’t until I was altering my Plaid dress from the same period that I remembered how much I love the silhouette and dresses from that time. I’m on the look out for another material in the same color scheme that I can use for an ovelay on the dress. If I find it when i’m in NYC i’ll be starting on it right away. But I do have to make a petticoat to go under it, which will probably take ages, so I might not have a lot of progress to share about it any time soon!
We are almost at the end of this post! The last things I wanted to mention are social media related. Nothing super exciting has happened, but last month I was part of Schmetz Inspired to Sew Series. The interview I did with them can be read here if you are interested!
I also (finally) made an instagram. I wasn’t expecting to like it because i’m not someone who reaches for my phone very often, but I love it. I’ve found it very convenient and have been updating at least once a day with some stuff that doesn’t get posted anywhere else. So if you have an account and want more regular updates on my work, I would suggest following me there! My account name is AngelaCostumery.
I also hit 50,000 subscribers on youtube quite recently which is insane, but awesome. I’m really excited and grateful to know that that many people are interested in my work!
And speaking of youtube, I made a much requested video this month which is an updated tour of my sewing room. It’s really long but it goes over pretty much every detail of how I store my costumes, fabrics, trims, notions and all sorts of stuff.
I had intended to make a blog post showing the room as well, but I think the video format works better for the amount of information I wanted to share. If you’re into that thing it can be watched here!
And that’s it!
As an end note I wanted to say that i’m sorry i’ve been slacking so much when it comes to blogging. I went through a weird phase where I wasn’t excited enough to write about my projects. Now i’m over that and really enjoying my projects but seem to be making them faster than I can write about them, so I just haven’t bothered.
Now I have enough photos to write about 20 detailed “The making of” posts, but so much to do before the New Year that I haven’t written any of them. I think January and February will be slower months, since i’ll be making corsets and petticoats and patterning new projects. There won’t be much to report there which means I should be able to make my way through the backlog i’ve developed recently. I really appreciate your patience when it comes to this stuff.
Thanks for reading!