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Making a Maroon Medieval Dress

Last October I started on a 15th century inspired project which I titled the “Maroon Medieval Ensemble”. Unfortunately it didn’t go as planned and the only finished part of the project is a rose colored chiffon chemise (which I blogged about here). The dress ended up in a bin at the top of my closet, which is where projects go to die. Or at least it’s where they go when i’m not ready to throw them out but don’t plan on finishing them.

The reason i’m now blogging about this project is because it’s survived the bin of death! Or at least part of it has.

When I was working on my Medieval Escoffin I realized the colors and materials I was using were quite similar to the fabrics in my Maroon Medieval dress. I even used some of the leftover piping from that project on the escoffin. Though the dress wasn’t wearable at all I got it out from the bin of death, I figured I could salvage some part of it and use it as the base for a dress that could be worn with my escoffin.

Which I did! And that’s what i’m blogging about.

Here is the dress in it’s unaltered half finished state:

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I don’t think it looks bad from the front. The real issue is that it didn’t fit properly. The waist was too long and didn’t flare enough to sit smoothly over my hips. This caused the bodice to constantly ride up and fold around the waist/stomach area which looked pretty awful.

I majorly goofed up on the back. I added boning panels to a bias cut seam and didn’t realize until later on how warped and pointed the back had become, especially around the neckline. The eyelets were also placed too far apart into fabric that wasn’t reinforced properly. And I tried to sew them with rayon thread which is a big no-no, they were an absolute mess!

I decided that the top part was unsalvageable. But the bottom half was perfectly fine – okay, it’s a little shorter than I’d like, but other than that it’s fine. So I decided to keep that part and attach it to a new bodice which would hopefully fit better and nicely compliment the escoffin.

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Before talking about the new bodice, here are some pictures of making the bottom half of the dress. My pattern for the front side looked like this.

I flat drafted it and didn’t make any mock ups, which I think is the reason behind my fit problems.

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The bottom band was also flat drafted. This part of the dress is made from the cheapest jacquard fabric that Joanns has in their home decor collection.

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The bottom band is trimmed with piping. I used a really pretty floral brocade for this. I cut strips out on the fabrics bias and sewed them together.

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Then I folded them in half so they covered a piece of cotton cord and sewed with the presser foot as close to the cord as I could get.

I made this before I realized that lightweight fabrics need another layer of material between them and the cord. Otherwise the markings on the cord are visible through the fabric and the piping can looked puckered  – which totally happened here.

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I think I made fifteen yards of puckery piping.

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The bottom band was sewn together with french seams.

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The raw edges were turned inward by a half inch and hand stitched down.  Then the piping was sewn on by hand. To prevent the edges from fraying I sewed some thin horsehair across the top and bottom edge, but I don’t have a picture of that

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Here is the finished band, which was then sewn onto the dress. I think those are all the relevant progress photos I have of this part. The dress itself is made from a cheap suiting I got for less than $3/yard from fabric.com. It’s a three piece pattern and sewn together with french seams (at the sides and at the back). The collar took the most time but that part got cut off so I won’t ramble on about making it!

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My new and improved bodice is made from more of the red jacquard. I used the bodice pattern from my Damask Print Dress since it doesn’t have any front seams (dresses in this time rarely did) and fit me surprisingly well. I just altered it to be a three piece pattern with an opening in the back instead of at the sides.

I would have cut this as one single piece but I didn’t have enough fabric left to do that.

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I made facings to go around the arm holes and neckline of the bodice.

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It all got turned inward and tacked down by hand so stitches weren’t visible.

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Then I made some trim from remnants of the brocade piping, some damask print bias tape that is covered in gold mesh, and little chiffon ruffles. All these fabrics were used for my escoffin and I thought this would be a good way to bring those textures and colors into the dress.

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Then I sewed a whole bunch of eyelets into the back. They are sewn between two pieces of plastic boning so they won’t stretch or tear.

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Then the side seams got done up. I did this the normal way, then folded the seam allowance inward and stitched across the folded edge to create a boning channel. I added two pieces of plastic boning to each side of the bodice. This is to prevent the bodice from bunching up at the sides, which can easily happen in bodices that don’t have darts or bust allowances in them.

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When that was finished I hemmed it and got to try it on for the first time. The fit is pretty much perfect, it’s the right length and doesn’t compress the bust too much or flare out awkwardly around the arms, which is great. I’m really pleased with this pattern!

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Now it was time to work on the sleeves. I decided to do layered sleeves, which will make it look like I’m wearing a kirtle underneath a short sleeved dress.

The long sleeves are made from a two piece pattern. The top part will be cut from stretch velvet so it nicely clings to the arm and the lower section is made from the damask print fabric with a gold mesh overlay. The short sleeves are made from a very similar pattern that is a bit wider and much shorter. Here are the patterns:

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I started by cutting out the short sleeves.

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The lower edge got turned inward by a half inch and sewed down.

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Then I made more of my piping/bias tape/ruffle combo which will decorate the hem.

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That got pinned onto the hem of each sleeve.

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And sewn on by hand. All of this was done by hand because I wanted to avoid visible topstitching.

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The side seam got sewn up, then I sewed lining into each sleeve.

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This is the top part of the long sleeves, made from the same velvet I used on the escoffin. In the end the short sleeved layer will cover this part, so you won’t see it, but I wanted it to match anyway.

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These are the lower sections, made from the same fabrics as the sides of the escoffin. I still love this fabric combo,  I think it looks very rich and has a lot of depth to it.

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To finish the edges I stitched it onto a piece of lining with the right sides facing each other, then turned it the right way out. I topstitched around the sides (by machine) and hem (by hand), then it got sewn on to the velvet part.

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The side seam got sewn up and luckily they fit!

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Then the top edge was sewn inside the top edge of the short sleeves. That edge was a frayed mess so I finished it with bias tape.

I set them aside for a bit and sewed lining into the bodice. When that was done they got sewed in with a whip stitch.

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Which left me with a lovely wearable bodice!

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I’m really happy with this. I like all the fabrics together and it fits, so I don’t have anything negative to say about it at all!

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Now it was time to attach the skirt. I put the dress on and hiked it up a little bit so it fit loosely around the waist. I needed some extra room so I could take the dress in at the back so the terrible eyelets wouldn’t be visible.  Then I marked a line about one inch above my waist and cut across that point.

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I ripped out the boning and as much of the eyelets as I could. I cut about an inch off either side which got rid of half the eyelets, what was still visible I covered with bias tape.

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After it was sewn on you couldn’t even tell!

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Then I sewed the skirt to my new bodice with tiny whip stitches. And the bottom edge of the bodice lining was stitched down to cover the raw edge of the skirt.

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The skirt fabric is too weak for eyelets so I hand sewed in a zipper. It isn’t accurate, but it’s really convenient.

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And that was it! The dress is finished! I love how this turned out. It was a very spur of the moment project which makes the end result feel even better.

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Here are a few worn photos of the whole thing. I should have the entire set up soon but I have a bit of editing to do first!


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Thanks for reading!

 
 

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Historically Inspired

Welcome to my historically inspired page! Here you will find all costumes that are historical recreations or garments  influenced and inspired by historical fashion.

This page only includes completed projects that were made entirely by me. If something seems to be missing it was probably removed due to poor documentation.

I’m constantly making new things and trying to keep this updated, so if there are any dead links they are probably for projects I’ll be posting about soon!

Each link leads to specific pages for the costume mentioned, which includes links to every post related to that costume, along with a brief description and photos of the completed project

1890’s Day Dress, the “Pumpkin” Gown

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1830’s Plaid, Pleated, Dress

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18th Century “Undress” Costume

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Sybil Inspired Edwardian Ensemble

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Pink Sateen Ball Gown, 1860’s 

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Cycling Costume, 1890’s

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Plaid Walking Ensemble,1890’s

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1790’s Round Robe

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Grecian Costume, Chiton and Crown

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Grey Plaid and Velvet Ensemble, 1860’s

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18th Century Riding Ensemble 

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Gold and Ivory Gown – Holiday Dress 2015

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Maroon Medieval Dress & Escoffin

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Civil War Era Dress

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Taffeta Kirtle & Hat

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Gold Foiled Dress, Heinrich Inspired

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Damask Print Medieval Gown

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Pleated Navy gown

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Silvery Blue Dress

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Orange Tudor Ensemble

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Brown Beaded Doublet

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Structured Chemise a la Reine

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Dewdrop Series

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Isabel de Requesens

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Blue Taffeta Hooded Dress

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1830s Floral Dress

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1830s Pleated Red Dress

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1840’s Pleated Floral Dress

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Christmas Costume, Glittery Gown

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Maroon Dress

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Striped Taffeta Dress

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Black and Grey Dress

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Pretty Pirate Project

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(Posts below were are projects, which are not very well documented or fully completed)

Red Renaissance Gown

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Red and Silver Gown

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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!

 
14 Comments

Posted by on May 6, 2016 in Reviews & Hauls

 

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A look back on 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

January: 

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

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

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

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

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February: 

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

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

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March: 

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

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

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April: 

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

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

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

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May: 

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

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

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June: 

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

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

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

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July:

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

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

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

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

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August: 

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

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

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

September: 

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

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

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October: 

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

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

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

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November: 

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

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

December: 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks for reading!

 
21 Comments

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

 

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Progress Report: November / December 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So many things.

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

But that is easier said than done.

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

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

Wool Shoes~

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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And that’s it!

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

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

Thanks for reading!

 
10 Comments

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

 

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