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Making a Sybil Inspired Edwardian Ensemble, Part Two

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This week I have the second (and final) post to share about making my embellished edwardian ensemble! Part one can be read here, and talks about making the bodice and starting the sleeves.

The bodice was almost finished, but still needed a bit more sparkle. I accomplished this by covering the stitching that attached the bodice together with tiny sequins and beads.

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I think the end result is very pretty, there is so much texture and sparkle!

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Then I folded the back edges inward and added a piece of boning to the lower portion of the bodice. The boning supports six eyelets that are embroidered onto each side of the back of the bodice. The top portion of the bodice closes with hooks and eyes for a clean finish.

I chose to make the back lace up since I wanted the bodice to be as fitted as possible, and because laces allow me to get the bodice on and off without help.

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Now back to the sleeves! I sewed organza backed lace trim onto the hem of each sleeve.

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Then I covered the top edge with sequins so it wouldn’t fray.

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With that done I pinned the back seam closed so I could do a quick fitting. Unfortunately the sleeves were a bit too small – I could get them on, but it wasn’t easy. So I decided to sew the seam up with a half inch allowance, instead of the french seam I had planned, giving me an inch of additional room in each sleeve.

I finished all the edges of the sleeves with lace tape.

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The only downside to the smaller seam allowance is that it means the stitching used to secure the chiffon to the lace is visible. It falls underneath my arm, and matches the fabric, so it isn’t too noticeable, but it annoys me nonetheless!

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I sewed the sleeves onto the bodice by machine with a half inch seam allowance, and then the bodice was complete! I’m really happy with this, I love all the detail work and how all the different fabrics and textures work together. It’s well constructed too, which i’m proud of since this was made in a relatively short amount of time.

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But I wasn’t happy for long because I had to work on the pants. The chiffon pants. I don’t like pants, or chiffon so the combination didn’t seem like much fun (and it wasn’t). It was however, very confusing. So I’m sorry if my explanations are confusing, but I’m not sure how to avoid that since I’m still confused and I’m the one who made them!

At first I thought these would be easy to make – a typical drop crotch pant with an asymmetric draped panel at the front, no problem! Then I realized the draped portion is actually sewn into the inseam somehow and that the back is asymmetrical too.

Before even trying to figure out how that would work I made the base pattern. Which is just a longer version of the pattern I made for my cycling bloomers. I made the crotch lower too, but that was the only big change aside from length.

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I cut two of each pattern piece out from my “base” fabric – which is a gold chiffon. Then I cut the front left panel out again, this time from a orange chiffon, and I extended the panel to be thirty inches wider at the side seam. Then I did the same thing with the back right panel and pink chiffon.

The pieces looked like this.

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Now for the confusing part. I basted the wider panels to the matching pieces (front left was basted to the front left cut from base fabric, and same process for the back panels) at the crotch seam and inseam.

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Then I sewed the crotch seam for the front and back panels AND I sewed the side seams of the base layer together with french seams. Once I put it on my dress form and loosely pinned the waistline it looked like this.

I can practically hear your skepticism but have faith!

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The thirty inches of fabric I added to the overlay panels wrap around the body and create the draped front and back. It’s kind of confusing because the front panel wraps around the back of the pants, and the back panel wraps around the front. But it totally worked!

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I gathered the top edges of the overlay panels down so they were the same width as the base layer of fabric.

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I tucked the front edges inward twice, by around two inches so a raw edge wouldn’t be visible. Then sewed it onto the waistline of the base panels so it hangs asymmetrically.

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I cut a slit into the back of the base panel, then covered it with ribbon so the edges wouldn’t fray. I mounted four hooks and bars onto the ribbon, which is how I get the pants on and off. This slit is covered by the overlay once the waistband is done up.

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After a bit more gathering the waist of the pants was twenty eight inches, exactly what I wanted! As you can see I left the very front of the draped panels ungathered since I thought that looked nicer.

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Now the waistband could be sewn on. I used a rectangle of interfaced brocade for this. It was sewn on with the right sides facing each other, then tucked over the raw edge and sewn down once again.

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This is the finished waistband from the front side. It doesn’t look too pretty, but it isn’t visible when the ensemble is worn so i’m not too bothered by it!

It also closes with hooks and bars.

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Here you can see it on my dress form. It still doesn’t look too promising, but I was pretty happy with this!

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At this point I pinned the overlay portions to the inseam of the base layer. Which looked like this!

Then I did the inseam up with french seams.

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I hung the pants up, then used my scissors to level the hem to make sure the overlay was the same length as the base.

I cut an inch of length off since I thought they were too long, then gathered the hem down by hand. I gathered this edge to be large enough to get over my foot, which left them significantly larger than my ankle.

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After a quick try on I realized a few issues. The first was that they were still too long. But I didn’t want to raise them from the hem, and it was too late to take them up at the waistline.

The second was that I had no idea how I would get them over my feet after attaching the cuffs. I would have to cut a slash into them, but I knew that would look awful.

But they needed cuffs. So I made some. And after pinning them on the length looked even worse since the cuffs caused them to sit higher on my leg.

So I took the cuffs off and decided to bind the bottom edges with bias tape. It isn’t ideal, but the bottom edge is mostly covered by the volume of the pants. And this also means I don’t have to worry about adding a slash/closure method since they are large enough to fit over my feet. Also, since the bound edge is loose, they hang lower on my leg and the length looks more natural.

For some stupid reason I used chiffon to bind the edges. I should have used a sturdier fabric or at least interfaced the chiffon first but clearly I was in a daze of frustration so I didn’t bother.

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End result: PANTS! I think these are the most unflattering thing I’ve ever made. I don’t mind shapeless garments if they have a nice shape but these are…difficult to pull off, to say the least? I think they look nice in a very specific pose (shown on the right) and when they are moving, but from the front it’s pretty rough.

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But that’s it! Here they are laid flat.

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Close up of the waistline.

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And the back – you can see how the overlay hides the slash!

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I made a little headpiece to go along with this costume. I didn’t love the crown it was paired with on the show, and I didn’t have enough trim left for anything really exciting. I ended up gluing some scraps of beaded trim onto a strip of lace, along with some glass montees and a few bits of an ostrich feather.

The end result is more 1920s than edwardian, but I think it’s super pretty and fits with the rebellious nature of this ensemble.

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Now for the worn photos! I paired it with a blonde wig, some shoes from DSW, and knee length spanx since the pants were a bit more sheer than I had intended (an opaque lining would have been smart). I also wore some earrings from the Downton Abbey collection, but you can’t really tell.

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I wish I had a necklace to go with this ensemble, I think the collar area is a bit bare. I was really tempted to get this this one*but figured I wouldn’t wear the costume often enough to justify it. But it matches so nicely…I might crack and get it anyway!

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Sorry for all the similar poses, as I said the pants are most flattering from that one specific angle! I think this was the first time I’ve been grateful for my height while wearing historical costumes as I think they would be even more of a challenge the shorter you are.

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And that’s it! I’m quite pleased with how this turned out. Even though the pants were a pain, I love the bodice and how all the fabrics work together. It’s very different from anything i’ve made recently, and only took a week to complete! I really want to do more of these week long projects, I always end up really enjoying them.

Thanks for reading!

 

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Making a Sybil Inspired Edwardian Ensemble, Part One

Todays project is something a bit different for me! It’s inspired by the harem pant ensemble that Sybil wore on Downton Abbey. I watched the show earlier this year and have wanted to make something from it ever since, though I assumed it would be an evening gown, not this!

When I first saw this costume I liked it. The colors and textures used are so vibrant and it’s very unique to anything else worn on the show, so how can you not? But I had no desire to make it, since I much preferred the elegant gowns worn by Cora and Mary.

Then last week a photoset of this costume appeared on my tumblr dashboard and I fell in love. For some reason it really stood out to me, both in design and construction. It struck me as something that would be a lot of fun to make and wear. Since I was between projects I scoured my stash in search of suitable materials and managed to come up with everything I needed. I decided it was meant to be and got straight to work!

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In total the costume took a week to make. I used images from the show as my primary reference and didn’t do any research until after completing the costume since I didn’t want to come up with conflicting ideas. Since I made the costume completely out of things I had around, the colors, trims, and textures are all really different, but I did try to achieve the same silhouette.

The materials I ended up using include two different brocades, peach colored netting, and three different shades of chiffon that I purchased for a cosplay years ago. I also used two trims, the gold one is from etsy and the other is from a random shop in NYC.

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And of course, lots of sequins. I didn’t have enough embroidery floss on hand to do anything similar to Sybil’s bodice, so I used these to add some texture and design.

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The first step was drafting the bodice. I did this the way I always do, by draping it on my dress form then transferring it to paper. My first attempt wasn’t too successful (it’s difficult to achieve a historical silhouette without a corset) but after taking it in slightly I managed to get something more like I’d envisioned.

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Then I got right into the construction. I started with the collar, which was cut out of gold brocade. Then I used peach colored netting as an overlay to dull the shine a bit.

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I lined the collar with muslin by sewing them together with the right sides facing each other. After turning it the right way out I topstitched across the bottom edges, and around the armscye.

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I set that aside and cut out the main portion of the bodice. This is made from the peach colored brocade.

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After doing a quick fitting I realized the bodice looked really boring. I thought the prints on the fabrics, and the sheen they have would be enough to make it interesting but no such luck.

So I decided to embellish a fleur-de-lis-ish design on the front. I based this design off the gold trim, which will decorate the waistline.

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After several hours of work, the design was embellished! Then I outlined it with some peachy colored sequins, and decorated the brocade with a bunch of seed beads. This material has gold dots printed between the flowers, which I used as a guide for this step.

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I lined this portion of the bodice with muslin as well. The pieces were sewn together along the bottom edge to nicely finish that edge before attaching the waistband.

I should also mention that I added a dozen plastic bones to the lining layer of the bodice. I wasn’t aiming for reduction, I just wanted the bodice to be nicely supported so it wouldn’t wrinkle or droop. This was extra important since I wasn’t wearing the bodice with a corset, but wanted it to be really fitted.

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Then I pinned the gold lace across the waistline.  I ended up basting this down before I started beading since I didn’t want to worry about catching my thread on the pins.

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The next step was embellishing the trim, so it would match the bodice and make it look more elaborate. This took ages – like six hours or something. But the end result is very pretty!

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With all the beading done I could finally pin the collar onto the bodice.

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I sewed it on with embroidery floss and decorative stitching, which will serve as a base for more sequins.

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Then I turned the top edge of the lining inward and sewed it down to hide the raw edges.

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And the final thing i’ll be talking about in this post are the sleeves. I drafted this pattern myself – which i’m actually kind of proud of, even though they are simple fitted sleeves.

Then I cut the pattern out of lace. This is a curtain lace I got in a grab bag from The Lace Place. I didn’t have very much of it so I had to cut the sleeves from two pieces.

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Then I gave the sleeves a bath in tea to dull the bright white color down to something that better matched the warm tones in this costume.

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I sewed a layer of starched chiffon over the lace, then sewed sequins on top using the pattern of the lace as a guide. I really like how this turned out, I think it’s a neat effect and these sequins are perfect for it.

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I was surprised at how long this took to do. I started watching Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries while working on it to try and avoid boredom during the process!

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Then I hemmed the bottom edge, and trimmed that same edge with some of the pink netting I used on the collar. Hopefully this will help tie all the materials used in the bodice together.

The reason the bottom few inches of these sleeves are missing sequins is because I’m going to cover that part with more lace trim.

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And that’s it for today! Part two will cover finishing the sleeves, finishing the bodice, and making the pants (something I did NOT enjoy…)

Thanks for reading! And if you want to see more of this project, I have a video log about it which has some extra details. This is the link to it, or it can be watched down below!

 

 

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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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Progress Report : Recent Projects

Today I’m talking about all my recent projects – which means there is a LOT to talk about! Though I haven’t finished a whole lot in the past months, I have a ton of things in progress and a bunch of recently abandoned projects. I did a big sewing room cleanup yesterday and came across a lot of those projects and thought it would be fun to share them with you! I also want to go over some of my future plans since I’m always planning something. 

But as I usually do with my progress reports, I’ll start off with things I’ve recently finished.

Using the term “recently” loosely, I finished my Civil War Era ball gown, which I adore. 
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And from the same period I made a more casual ensemble…er, I tried to, at least. This ensemble was supposed to consist of a blouse, hat, and skirt. But I didn’t have enough material for the skirt so it didn’t sit nicely over my hoop skirt. The fabric I used for the waistband was really delicate and unraveled. And somehow the skirt was sewn onto the waistband incorrectly, leaving the side seam at the center front.

I decided the skirt was cursed and gave up. Usually I push through to the end of projects, but this one wasn’t worth it. However I do really like the blouse! And I made a really cute pork pie hat to go with it. I used buckram, heavy weight interfacing and wire for the structure. It’s covered with velvet and decorated with a cheap brooch from ebay and a few feathers.

Before discarding the skirt I put it on and got some waist up photos, which I think turned out nicely!

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I’ll probably remake the skirt someday, and try to get better photos of this ensemble because I really the parts I did finish!

The wig in these photos was from a Halloween shop, I braided it nicely in the back but you can’t really tell. And the earrings are these ones* – I wear them all the time since they make me feel fancy.

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Around the time I finished that blouse and hat, I also made an 1890’s cycling costume. This is still one of my favorite things I made this year, it’s really comfortable, cute, and feels more complete than most of my costumes. Not because of how it’s constructed, it just the way everything from the hat to stockings and shoes match. It was also really enjoyable to make, flared jackets are so much fun!

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I find jackets so fun that I’ve decided to make myself a winter coat this year. Well, I originally wanted to make myself two coats, one 1920’s inspired, and another based on this 1950’s image, but I could only find the material for one coat and decided to make the 1920’s inspired one first.

Though I’m determined to make a coat like the one on the right some day.

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The design I settled on is based on some of the designs in this Bellas and Hess catalogue. I’m going to make mine a lot more fitted than those, but the length, crazy collars, and flashy buttons will definitely feature in the one I’m making. And if I have enough fabric leftover I’ll make a hat too.

Hopefully the end result will be something I can wear on a regular basis. My current winter coat is falling apart so if it turns out well it would definitely be an improvement! And a lot more unique than the ones I’ve tried on in stores.

I picked a fairly plain brown faux wool flannel from Jo-anns, and bright orange vintage buttons for it. But right now it’s just a sketch (on left).

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Part of my motivation to make something more wearable comes from a 1950’s inspired dress I finished recently. I was browsing on etsy when I came across a vintage dress from Over Attired that has a really interesting dart placement – they were parallel to the neckline and extended out from a center seam. The dress also had sleeves incorporated into the bodice pattern rather than being a separate piece.

I loved the dress, but it wasn’t in my size. So I decided to make my own! I used a lightweight polka dot material for it and lined it with cotton. It closes with a zipper up the back and a hook/eye. I drafted the pattern myself and absolutely adore the end result, it’s so much more flattering than most dresses I own and really comfortable. It’s made me want to make more of my own clothing, rather than just elaborate costumes.

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There won’t be a blog post about that dress, but there is a video showing how I made it here!

And I’ve already started on another 1950’s inspired project, with a similar sleeve design. But this one is bright yellow with a cute collar!

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Back to discussing finished things! My most recently completed costume is a Sybil inspired ensemble. Making this was the most fun I’ve had on a historical costume in a long time. I think it was a mixture of the materials, the huge amount of hand sewing, and the spontaneous aspect of it. I didn’t have built up expectations while working on it so I could just go with the flow which was great.

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I’d hoped to replicate those feelings with another Edwardian project, but it didn’t quite go as planned. I had a few other things in progress and this got put on the bottom of the pile rather than the top, which ruined the fun of it. But I do plan on going back to it soon when I have time to give it more attention.

The plan for this was a simple dress, fitted at the bodice with short sleeves and a skirt that falls away at the hips. For the dress I was going to use green satin faced chiffon, some trim I had around, and these matching appliques.

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The dress would be worn over a lace blouse made from silk, vintage lace, and cotton. This was the part I was most excited about since I love mixing trims, but I didn’t get very far before moving on to other things. I’m DEFINITELY coming back to it, I just need to finish some other stuff first.

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And that reminds me of another lace blouse that hasn’t been finished either. I started this a few months ago and got the bodice almost finished – it’s a mix of lace fabric, lace trim, and soft mesh. It was supposed to have a high lace collar and matching sleeves but I was so indecisive about which style to go with that I ended up setting it aside and haven’t gotten back to it. I’d like to resume this someday, but I’m still not sure what direction to go in!

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My other recent edwardian plan had a similar fate. It was supposed to be a suit based on this ensemble from a vintage magazine. I was really excited about this project, but I wasn’t very committed to it. I made the base for the hat, then got bored before I finished it. I made bust pads to achieve the proper silhouette and drafted a pattern for the suit, but I lost interest in that too and never finished it!

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A project I did successfully finish is this 1890’s taffeta dress. I have the first few blog posts up about this already and the final one should be up next week!

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Unfortunately my other 1890’s project hasn’t gone as well. This was supposed to be a fast fun project, made from a yard of glitter velvet and some two tone chiffon I had in my collection. The plan was to make a cute, short jacket and let the material really shine. But then I had the bright idea to embellish patterns on it with sequins, which looks fantastic, but took forever. 

After finishing the embellishing I took a break from it. Then a few weeks later I tried it on and realized the stupid thing doesn’t fit. Well, it kind of fits, but it’s too short in the waist. I might be able to salvage it by sewing in boning and adding waist tape that hooks closed, but that doesn’t seem like much fun so I’ve been avoiding it.

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I have two more abandoned projects to share, and then I’ll go back to the positive stuff!

A while back I had the bright idea to make something really different from everything else I had in progress – a tudor ensemble made from a variety of black materials. This was a flop too. I  think black fabrics (specifically velvet?) hate me. Or suck the inspiration from me. Or both.

In this projects defense, nothing went wrong with it. I drafted and fitted the project, then assembled the bodice. I did a bit of beading on it too before losing interest. I haven’t trashed this, and I’d still like to finish it, but my feelings towards is are very “meh” – there are more exciting things to sew, so I’m avoiding it for now.

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My final flop is the one I’m most annoyed about, because I invested so much time into it. This was supposed to be an 1880’s day dress, with a slight bustle. I made the bodice from cotton sateen I salvaged from another project and striped fabric I got for a dollar in Lancaster.

I draped, fitted, cut out, assembled, added hooks, sewed on the collar and sewed on the sleeves before realizing this didn’t fit. The main fit issue is with the shoulder, it’s too tight but not sloped enough, so it causes bunching below the neckline and around the chest. It looks terrible and can’t be fixed without removing the sleeves and collar.

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On top of that I sort of ran out of fabric. I thought I had more cotton sateen from a recent trip to the garment district that would match, but it doesn’t. Which means the bustle dress would have very tiny, awkward draped panels on the skirt. I could probably make it work but I’m not sure if it’s worth it.

Here is the skirt in its current state, without any draped panels. 😦

There is also a matching hat lacking trimming which I don’t have photos of.

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On a brighter note, I do have a few works in progress that seem to be going well! The first is my 1830’s dress, which I’ve blogged about already. I finished the bodice for this, and made major progress on a matching bonnet.

I still haven’t started on the skirt since I’d really like to make a shorter petticoat before working on it. But I haven’t been in the mood to make a petticoat, so I may make the skirt over my existing petticoats and  hem it shorter later.

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I’ve (bravely) taken on another 1880’s project. This is a natural form era gown, with a very fitted bodice and skirt that is wide around the hips but tapers towards the hem. It’s a very different silhouette for me and will require a LOT of work but I’m excited about it. I’ve been working on this for a while, with a bit of progress happening each week.

I guess the slow and steady technique has worked, because the bodice is almost done (minus some ruffles).

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I drafted the underskirt, and have spent ages beading the front panel, but it hasn’t really taken shape yet. Hopefully it will soon.

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I’d hoped to focus on some 18th century projects this October – partially because the name is catchy, but also because I have so many I want to make. The first project on this list is an elaborate turque which I mentioned in my birthday haul earlier this year.

The bodice is almost done – it’s fully constructed, just needs some trim and sleeves.

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I also got the skirt cut out. The skirt is made from shantung and trimmed with five yards of home made organza puff trim. By some miracle I finished that last week, and have moved on to hemming and gathering the ruffles for the petticoat. These are made from a snazzy taffeta and striped organza

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My other 18th century project is in a similar state. The bodice is almost done and i’ve confirmed that it fits, but it’s missing trim and I still haven’t drafted the sleeves. This is made out of that beautiful striped taffeta I got a few months ago. I love it soo much, I can’t wait to see this finished!

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I have the matching petticoat cut out as well. Both edges of the petticoat ruffle were hemmed by hand, which is like fourteen yards of hand hemming! But it’s done now, so I can move onto gathering it and attaching it to the upper portion.

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And I think that’s everything! I probably left out a few of the things I completed, but you’ve seen them before anyway. I thought it was better to focus on my fails and what I’m currently working on. Hopefully it was interesting and made you feel a bit better about any UFO’s you have laying around!

My goal for this month is to finish the turque, the winter coat, and the 1830’s dress. Then I can focus more on the other 18th century project and maybe something edwardian. I’d really like to work through some of these WIP’s!

Thanks for reading!

 
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Posted by on October 7, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

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