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Making a Striped Cotton Dress, Early 20th Century, Continued

Last week I shared the process of making the bodice and sleeves for my striped edwardian dress. Today I’m writing about making the skirt, the hat, and the adding the finishing touches.

Let’s start with the skirt. This took me a while to “draft” because it’s so narrow – I’m used to making skirts that fit over petticoats or hoops, and without those as a base I felt a bit lost!

So I began by cutting a rectangle of material, then cutting it in half. Which left me with two 22″ x 45″ish pieces. I pinned one of the pieces onto the front of the dress form and played around with the amount of volume I wanted it to have.

Then I removed the panel from the dress form, trimmed the top edge, and gathered it properly. This was repeated on the other panel as well.

I cut out another rectangle, and while the fabric was folded in half I cut across it diagonally. This left me with three gored panels. I made sure all the diagonal cut edges were sewn to straight edges (to prevent warping), with the wider ends at the hem so it would have the most volume.

I didn’t photograph this process because my floor was really dirty, but you’ll see the skirt laid flat in a minute and hopefully it will make sense then!

Here is the top edge.

I pleated this edge so it would line up with the pleat at the back of the bodice.

Then gathered it down, so the whole thing was the same width as the bodice waistline.

Speaking of the bodice, here it is which the fit updates mentioned in the last post. The pleats were tacked down, and the waistband was sewn on by hand with running stitches.

I also decided to add ruffles to the hem of the sleeves, since they were an awkward length. The ruffles are 25″ x 4″ strips that were folded in half to create a finished edge, then I gathered the tops by hand and whip stitched them on.

I matched the seams in the skirt with the seams in the bodice, then sewed it onto the waistband.

The front edges were folded inward twice to hide the raw edges. This was sewn down by hand, with more whip stitches.

I put it back on my dress form and used pins to mark where I thought the hem should go. Then I tried it on and adjusted the hem more – I’m so, so glad I tried it on during this stage, since it was an inch shorter than I wanted!

I marked my desired hemline with pencil, then measured three inches away from that and marked another line. This left me plenty of room for a pretty hem.

I folded the dress in half and pinned all the seams together, then laid it flat. I did this because the hemline was only marked on one side and I wanted it to be symmetrical.

This is before trimming…

And after!

I transferred all my markings onto the other side of the skirt.

Then turned the raw edge inward by an inch, and inward once again at the line I drew. This left me with a 2″ deep hem.

It was sewn with whip stitches as well.

Now it was time for buttons. I spent a long time searching for suitable buttons on etsy but couldn’t find anything in my price range in the size I wanted.

So I decided to use coverable buttons. I was trying to decide between making them maroon or white when I realized another fabric I purchased in the garment district matched the stripes perfectly. I ended up using it and I really love how they look.

Before sewing them on I tried the dress on again, and marked where the snaps/hooks/bars should be. I sewed these on first, then used the buttons to cover the threads used to securing the closures to the fabric.

I also lined the waistband – here you can see some of the hooks, along with pencil markings for snaps.

In total there are seven hooks and six snaps. Hooks are placed where more support is needed – like at the collar and waistline. Snaps were used for the rest.

There are three snaps and one hook further down which keeps the skirt together – I used three more buttons to cover that stitching as well.

Here is the finished bodice. I’m really happy with how the closures for this turned out, front closures can be hit or miss but everything lines up nicely and it’s really easy to get into!

Now onto the hat! I based this on fashion plates in the catalogues I looked through when visiting McCalls. There were a lot of hats that were covered in flowers to the point where you could barely see the crown. I usually put flowers on hats, but this inspired me to go all out.

First came the paper pattern – I made a few of these before I got the “perfect” size. My original pattern is laid on top of the one I ended up using.

It was cut out of felt weight interfacing.

Then wire was sewn into the pieces.

I covered all the panels with white cotton sateen, and lined them with the striped material. For the brim I gathered the striped fabric at two points to create ruched lining, which I didn’t realize would need to be secured at the gathering point in the middle to sit properly – which left with these ugly dents in the material.

My solution to this was covering it with bias tape. Which just so happened to match the bias tape I made to bind the brim of the hat.

Here is the bias tape sewn on. In the photo above you might be able to see pencil dots, which were used as a guide when sewing it in place.

I also sewed together the crown of the hat, then sewed it to the brim.

At this point I liked the lining better than the front!

But after piling it with flowers the outer layer of the hat grew on me a lot! I wish I had only used pink flowers, and not brought in the small yellow ones. But I still really like it. I used an entire bunch of fake roses, a few sprigs of fake paisleys, fake ivy, and fake ferns.  Along with a sash of silk and an ostrich feather.

I think there may be room left for a few more roses, but I haven’t decided how high I want them to go up the sides of the hat. For now I’m calling it finished.

And that’s it for this project! I’m hoping we’ll have some nice weather soon and I can photograph it against a backdrop of spring flowers. I think it would suit that environment nicely.

Overall I’m really happy with this dress. I think the silhouette turned out very nicely – slim but still obviously historical (that’s more prominent when it’s worn by a person, not a dress form). I like how easy it is to get on, and how comfortable it is to wear. I also have a ton of mobility in it – I can raise my arms all the way above my head without any snaps popping or seams ripping! So if I get attacked by bees when photographing it in front of flowers I’ll have a chance to swat them away.

(or if I ever get invited to a historical event at a theme park I’ll know which dress to bring)

Another cool thing: This dress has maybe $35 of material in it. And that’s including the hat. But I’m really tempted to buy a pair of white shoes to go with it, which would nearly double that total.

And that’s it! Thanks for reading, I should have a fabric haul with the other materials I picked up on my recent shopping trip up soon!

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An Orange Brocade Dress – Making a 17th Century Costume, Part One

It’s taken me longer than I had hoped, but I’m finally back with a “Making of” post! And it focuses on a project I’m really excited about: a seventeenth century ensemble.

I’ve wanted to make something from this period for a long time. It’s not a popular period for historical re-creation, but I’ve been attracted to it since I first started researching historical fashion. The high waists, bright silks, full sleeves, and jeweled decorations really appealed to me. And now that I know more about fashion from the 1500s and 1700s, I find the mid 1600s even more interesting since they are so drastically different than what came before them.

It’s also the period depicted in most of of Rembrandt and Peter Paul Rubens work, who are some of my favorite artists.

Despite my interest in the era, I haven’t completed a costume from the mid 1600’s. I’ve made some attempts, and even gotten pretty far! But bad fabric choices, fit issues, and poorly thought out designs have led to failure every time.

But this time I was determined. And luckily things went a lot better.

My previous attempts were based on simpler dresses that were free of decoration.  I’d still like to complete a dress of that style some day, but I thought success would be more likely if I went in a different direction.

Then I came across this painting and fell in love. I don’t like the mask, but textures, print, colors, and details really drew me in. I love the sheen on the dress, and how much depth it has. The amount of trim on it, and the paned sleeves looked like they would be a lot of fun to recreate. And I adore the hat, it helps balance out the proportions of the sleeves and skirt.

I couldn’t find a fabric deep enough in tone to match the painting, but I did find a lovely peach/orange/gold brocade in my price range. It’s from Fabric Express in NYC and cost $6/yd. I purchased eight yards but barely had enough material left to cut out the sleeves, so I should have bought more.

The trims are all from etsy. Seven yards of wide embroidered mesh trim (from HARMONYDIYLIFE), twenty yards of metallic embroidered mesh trim (from lacetrimwholesalers), and four yards of braided trim (from ddideas). I spent less than thirty dollars for the lot of them, and really lucked out in terms of color. They match the brocade perfectly. 

Once my materials were sorted, I did a bit more research and came up with a complete design (since the painting that inspired me only shows the top half of the bodice). I mostly used references from In Fine Style: The Art of Tudor and Stuart Fashion*, which has some great images of paintings and extant garments from the period. This ensemble was also helpful to me (especially for the skirt), since it’s more complete than a lot of seventeenth century examples.

The Dreamstress and Before the Automobile have made dresses from this period, and I found their write ups helpful in terms of understanding the construction.

When it came to the pattern I discovered two in my collection – one in Patterns of Fashion*, by Janet Arnold, and another in The Cut of Women’s Clothes* by Norah Waugh. I ended up using the pattern from Norah Waugh’s book, with a few alterations.

I used a trick mentioned in one of the blog posts linked above, and fitted my first mock up over 18th century stays.  I lowered the neckline, let out the waist, lowered the waistline, and made the front piece longer. I debated about cutting the front and sides as a single piece, but decided assembly would be easier with them separate, so that’s what I did!

Then I made the base layer. Which is effectively fully boned stays – there is so much boning in them. The channels were all marked onto cotton, then backed with medium weight twill and sewn by machine. I used plastic quarter inch boning to fill them, then assembled the bodice.

I did a fitting here, and realized the bodice was too big! Well, too big might be a stretch. but it wasn’t giving me the shape I wanted, so I removed a half inch of material from the side panels.

Then I cut out the top layer from the brocade which was backed with fusible interfacing. I wanted to avoid the bodice being thick, or heavy, but I also wanted the top fabric to be thick enough to hide the boning. I haven’t had any problems with that, so I’m glad I decided to interface it.

Lace was sewn into the seams (which were stitched by hand) and in a straight line on the back edge.

Lace was also sewn onto the front panels. A lot of lace. Three rows of embroidered mesh ribbon, with the wider embroidered trim near the neckline. I also cut out brocade strips from the “wrong side” of the fabric, sewed those down, and covered the edges with lace. This added more depth to the front of the bodice.

I basted the center front seam first, just to make sure everything lined up. Then sewed it by machine.

Then the side seams were sewn.

I pinned the top layer of fabric to the base layer. The tabs and neckline were cut without seam allowances, so I whip stitched the edges together. But the back edges, and the bottom edge of the front panel were folded over the base layer, then sewn down.

Now it was time to bind the tabs. I hate binding tabs. I always do a really terrible job – and that’s when working with lightweight cottons! I figured binding brocade would be impossible. Since I was already prepared for them to look bad, I decided to try a new technique and used half inch wide strips of leather.

(The Dreamstress did this for her 1660’s piece as well)

Both the top, and bottom edge were sewn by hand. I don’t think the end result looks great. But I liked doing it all by hand, and the leather curved around the edges better than I had expected. I also liked being able to snip the underside without worrying about fraying.

The underside.

And a close up. I cut the strips from a skin I bought on ebay a while back. I don’t think it was quite as soft/thin as the kid leather that is usually used for this, but it was easy to get a needle through. And my sewing room smelled like leather for days!

Next up was the lining – cut from two pieces of cotton and sewed together at the center front. There weren’t any raw edges on the tabs, so I didn’t bother lining them.

The lining was whip stitched to the base layer.

Then I sewed all the eyelets! It was a bad week for my fingers between these and the tabs, but the embroidery floss I bought matches the fabric really well and I’m happy with how they look.

And the lined interior. The back edge of the lining was sewn after I finished the eyelets so it would cover the loose threads.

I also fray checked the back of every eyelet, since brocade is prone to fraying.

Now I had something that looked like this!

I sewed the shoulder seam, then did a fitting. Which went surprisingly well. The waist is a little tight, but there isn’t any gaping in the back. And it fits my shoulders nicely.

I was even happy with the neckline!

I finished the bodice off with more binding. I used quarter inch wide gold bias tape for the neckline, and half inch wide bias tape in matching brocade to finish the armscye.

And that’s it for this post!

Thanks for reading, I hope you enjoyed! I should be back with another one soon.

 

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1830’s Plaid Pleated Dress, Photos

Today I have another set of photos to share. Much like the last photos I posted, these have an autumn theme and were taken in a pumpkin patch. I thought it would be make the perfect lighthearted backdrop for a wacky dress like this one, and it did not disappoint!

This was my first time having the whole ensemble on and I was pretty pleased with it – everything fit and was really comfortable. I was a bit concerned the petticoat would show, or that the bonnet would slip around, but neither of those were an issue.

I paired this with my regency stays that I made ages ago, and my “Victorian“* boots. Neither are particularly accurate to this period but helped achieve the silhouette I wanted. I talk more about the petticoats and the construction of this costume in these posts:

Post 1: The Bodice

Post 2: The Sleeves, Skirt, and Bonnet

Before getting into the photos I wanted to mention my last post, where I reviewed a bunch of costume reference books. If you’re interested in any of them this is the time to buy! Amazon has $10 off book purchases, and Barnes & Noble has 15% off your order, which makes the price of those pretty inspiration books a bit easier to manage!

Now onto the photos!

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And some muddy boots after a long morning! Luckily none got on the dress.

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And that’s it! Thanks for reading!

 
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Posted by on November 28, 2016 in 19th century, Completed Costumes

 

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Historical Costume Reference Book Reviews

This post has been planned for years I’ve just always put off writing it. As much as I like writing reviews, looking at a massive stack of books and trying to write intelligently about them is pretty intimidating. But I was determined to get it done, and I have! And just in time for the holiday season! I hope this is helpful for anyone looking to buy books, or if you’re just curious about the books I reference when making costume!

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I have two disclaimers before getting started. Firstly, I do not own the rights to any of these works. The copyright for each book belongs to the authors, publishers, and contributors, not me. In this post I’ve included two pages from the interior of each book which I believe falls under fair use. The photos are sized down or taken from angles where the pages aren’t usable for anything other than understanding the format of each book. They are not intended to harm the commercial value of the books. But I’ll happily take down any of the images if the copyright holders ask.

And the second: The links in this post are amazon affiliate links. This means if you buy something through the links I get paid small percentage of the purchase price for referring you to that item. It doesn’t change the price of the item, or the shopping experience at all.  But if you’re uncomfortable with this the links should be avoided.

Now onto the reviews!

I’ll start with some of the most popular, which also happen to be the first historical fashion books I got. They are a series of books called “Patterns of Fashion” which were written by Janet Arnold. There are four books in the series and I own three.

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Patterns of Fashion 1: Englishwomen’s Dresses and Their Construction  by Janet Arnold

This book focuses on women’s fashion from the 1660’s through the 1860’s. It’s primarily a pattern book but starts off with a fifteen page introduction, which includes quotes from magazines and journals, very brief drafting instructions, notes on how to cut dresses from limited fabric, and paragraphs devoted to things like making piping or pinked trim. I’m sure these notes are helpful for someone but I find them a little vague (and also confusing at times).

But this isn’t why I bought the book, so I’m not bothered by it. I bought it for the patterns!

Unlike a lot of pattern books, this series includes detailed drawings of the completed piece from the front and back, and usually includes drawings of the interior as well. There is also a paragraph or two talking about the dress, including what it was originally made from and any unique construction notes.

The patterns in this book are all made based on measurements taken from existing historical examples, so they are very accurate (as are the notes about each piece). But keep in mind that these patterns will require scaling up, and alterations to fit your measurements.

The patterns in this book are beautifully laid out. They are printed on a grid, which makes them easy to resize and they are filled with construction notes which make the intimidating and unusual nature of historical patterns a lot easier to tackle. The pattern notes are clear and concise – pretty much perfect in my mind! The patterns are also very detailed, with the trim placement and embroidery patterns documented as well.

The only thing I don’t care for are the pieces chosen for the book. Some of them are quite similar. It’s especially obvious with the two 1840’s and 1860’s dresses which have very similar sleeves and tiered skirts. Compared to Norah Waugh’s books which have fewer patterns but a larger variety it’s a bit disappointing.

I still think it’s worth it – over two dozens patterns for thirty dollars is a fantastic deal, even if you only use half of them. And the notes for each piece gave me a much better understanding of the construction progress for historical dresses.

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Patterns of Fashion 3: The Cut and Construction of Clothes for Men and Women  by Janet Arnold

This book focuses on mens and women’s fashion from the 1560’s through the 1620’s. It’s twice the length of the first one, with a fifty page introduction. Luckily the introduction in this book is a lot more interesting. It’s filled with pictures and the writing compliments them nicely.

The pictures range from patterns to etchings and paintings. It also has a lot of photographs showing the details on original garments from the 1500s. It’s really interesting to see close ups of the fabric manipulation, closures, stitching, and lining techniques. Things you hear mentioned a lot in other books but never actually see. I’d say the book is worth looking through just for those images alone.

The patterns in this book are documented in the same way as Patterns of Fashion 1. They are on a grid, with one page devoted to drawings of the finished garment and a brief description of the piece. The notes are just as helpful, and even more in depth since 16th century fashion was so complicated.

The thing I don’t like about this book is, once again, the lack of variety. I believe there are twelve mens doublet patterns, half of which are pretty similar. The variation in the women’s clothing patterns is good, but lacking some of the “classic” tudor styles. The examples are all very elaborate, which I find inspiring, but they are complicated and probably not the best for beginners.

Like the first book, I think it’s a good deal and the notes are very helpful whether you’re using the patterns included or trying to draft your own in an accurate way. If you have an interest in the periods it covers I would highly recommend it.

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Patterns of Fashion 4: The Cut and Construction of Linen Shirts, Smocks, Neckwear, Headwear and Accessories for Men and Women  by Janet Arnold

I regret buying this book.

This isn’t a bad book by any means. In fact it’s really interesting to read through, and I’ve never seen anything like it before. It focuses on accessories and underpinnings for men and women, which isn’t the most exciting topic, but the introduction is filled with close ups of the detail work on garments from the 1500s and 1600s.

It has diagrams of the stitches used for openwork seams, eyelets, lace, and embroidery. It has pages devoted to the variety of cuffs that were worn, and another for collars. It’s fascinating to see that alongside photos of embroidery work done five hundred years ago. And like the last book, the photos are accompanied by descriptions. But the descriptions are a lot more brief, and the pages far more photo heavy than the previous book.

The patterns are well documented, with drawings of the embroidery motifs and lace patterns in case you want to recreate them.

The reason I regret buying this book is because I’m not at a point where I’m willing to spend forty hours adding blackwork embroidery to an undershirt. And even if I was, I feel like that information is available online. As far as the patterns go, I’ve never followed them. Because things like smocks and ruffs are very easy to draft on your own – they are just rectangles. There are a few patterns for gloves and collars that are unique, but also pretty easy to draft on your own or find elsewhere.

I think this book is best for someone who wants to make exact historical replicas. Otherwise it probably won’t get a lot of use. I’m hoping to take advantage of the embroidery patterns someday, which is why I’ve held onto it, but this isn’t a book I feel I need in my collection.

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Another silly complaint which I have about all these books is that I don’t like the size of them. They are maybe 11″ x 16″, and since they are thin and paperback they don’t stand up, even if you lean them against something. And they take up a ton of room when laid out on a table. Plus the pages are too big to scan, which is sort of silly since that’s what you have to do to resize the patterns. Though it isn’t a deal breaker for me by any means, it’s kind of frustrating!

The Tudor Tailor: Reconstructing Sixteenth-Century Dress by Ninya Mikhaila and Jane Malcolm-Davies

This is a book I bought when making my Tudor Ensemble, since Patterns of Fashion 3 didn’t have quite what I was looking for and I was completely clueless about this period. This came highly recommended on every blog I read, so I decided to give it a try.

To be honest, it isn’t my favorite book. Compared to other pattern books (like Janet Arnold’s and Norah Waugh’s) I find it uninspiring. The patterns and examples all seem to be lacking the exaggeration and detail work that that period was famous for. I don’t want to make anything from the patterns since they seem lackluster, where with other books I want to make everything!

But it isn’t a bad book! Much like the others it starts off with an introduction, except theirs is split into chapters. One of which focuses on the basics, another talks about the materials and dyes that were available, and another shows construction techniques. The pages are pretty dense, but it’s easy to read through and really interesting.

The patterns each have one page devoted to assembly instructions, with a photo (or drawings) of the finished piece. Each pattern has several variations, with the amount of material needed to make it listed. The patterns are also on a grid, which makes them easy to size up. I really appreciate the range in patterns – each one has a different silhouette, and they cover everything from dresses for the everyday tudor woman, to court gowns for the rich. It has mens patterns too, patterns for foundation garments, and patterns for headpieces.

I think this book would be good for beginners, since everything is much simpler than Janet Arnold’s, and it has more notes than Norah Waugh’s. If you find those patterns overwhelming, this is a better place to start. It’s also a lot more complete – you can make everything from foundation garments to accessories with it.

But as I said, I find the patterns lacking the exaggeration and detail work that I like in patterns. And for as simple as the patterns are, the lines are wobbly and the markings for pleats and boning are less clear.

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Corsets and Crinolines by Norah Waugh

This is by far the most used pattern book I own. Every corset I’ve made has been based on patterns from this book in some way or another.

Unlike the other books, there is no introduction. The book is split into chapters, with several dense pages of text between each pattern. This text doesn’t usually relate to the pattern, just the period that pattern is from. Some of the text is heavy, and since it was written seventy years ago it can seem a bit stiff. But I’ve read it pretty much cover to cover and enjoy how much information is packed into it, and how nicely it explains the transition between silhouettes and foundation garments.

In addition to her own words, this book includes samples from journals and newspapers. Some of these are silly (and in another language) but it’s interesting hearing about the foundation garments from the perspective of people who wore them.

The patterns are quite simple, made from a few pieces with only the boning placement marked. However the patterns aren’t on a grid, instead you use a key at the bottom of each page as a guide. The patterns also lack notes, which isn’t a big issue since corsets are quite self explanatory, but it’s very problematic when recreating things from her other book “The Cut of Women’s Clothes: 1600-1930“. Things like how the dresses close, and the order of assembly can be tricky to follow without anything but the pattern to go off of.

In addition to patterns on bodies, stays, corsets, and girdles, this book also has patterns for hoop skirts, panniers, and petticoats. It’s incredibly helpful for creating the proper silhouette for historical costumes and I would highly recommend it – though once again, keep in mind that alterations will have to be made for the patterns to fit you.

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Norah Waugh has two other books, The Cut of Women’s Clothes: 1600-1930 and The Cut of Men’s Clothes: 1600-1900.

Though I don’t own either of these, I have followed patterns from the Women’s book and had the opportunity to look through it. I really enjoy the patterns included in this book since the variety is a lot greater than what’s in Janet Arnold’s, with patterns from the 1600s all the way to the mid 1900s. It covers a huge range of styles and silhouettes, and no two patterns are alike.

As much as I like the patterns, as I said earlier, the lack of construction notes becomes a bit problematic with some of these patterns. They can usually be figured out with a bit of experimentation, but the way things are supposed to go together isn’t always clear since there are no notes.

A recent addition to my collection is 59 Authentic Turn-of-the-Century Fashion Patterns by Kristina Harris

You’ve probably heard me talk about this book before, since I used it for three recent projects. It’s quickly become one of my favorites since I’m a bit enamored with the 1890’s, and this is one of the few books I’ve found that focuses on that period.

This book has a single drawing of each finished garment, plus a paragraph long description of it. The garments are organized by date and season. Though it primarily has patterns on women’s fashion there are a dozen or so children’s patterns.

I find a lot of the patterns to be quite similar, but there are subtle differences between them. And at the price point (twelve dollars or so) It’s easy to forgive. The patterns aren’t on a grid, and there isn’t a key that makes them easy to scale up. Instead the edges of each piece have measurements listed. The patterns do have errors that I’ve noticed, the most major being that they often use improper fractions like 3 7/4″ or 9 13/5″, which is confusing at times!

Much like Waugh’s book, I wish the patterns had notes on them. To create poofy sleeves and gathered bodices the lining often has a completely different shape than the fashion fabric that goes overtop of it. But it isn’t always clear how they go together.

However I still really like this book. The variety in sleeve patterns is fantastic, and the skirt pattern I followed for my recent 1890’s dress was wonderful. It’s a great book to have around, and you can’t beat the amount of patterns you get for the price!

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The “Keystone” Jacket and Dress Cutter: An 1895 Guide to Women’s Tailoring by Chas Hecklinger

I’m not sure if i’m allowed to review this since I haven’t used it the way it’s intended to be used. I bought this as a visual reference for making fitted 1890’s jackets with flared skirts. And I’ve since used it as a visual reference for how double breasted jackets and shirtwaists should look when flat…then used that as a guide when draping similar garments.

But this book is intended to be a drafting manual. It includes instructions on how to measure yourself and how to create flat patterns based on those measurements. Since this is an older book, the instructions are stiff, but don’t seem very difficult to follow.

After the drafting system is explained it has pages devoted to garment diagrams, and a page of drafting instructions to go along with each one.

The diagrams cover everything from short fitted jackets to to double breasted riding coats with flared skirts. It also has diagrams and instructions for sleeve patterns and several shirtwaists. At the back of the book there are drawn examples of each piece.

Overall, this served the purpose I bought it for. It helped me understand what lat 20th century patterns looked like flat, which helped me drape my own equivalent. But I can’t vouch for the accuracy of the instructions since I haven’t followed them!

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Costume in Detail: Women’s Dress 1730-1930 by Nancy Bradfield

This isn’t a pattern book, but I keep it with my pattern books since I think it’s a great accompinment to them. This book has a unique format, with at least two pages devoted to each costume. Each costume is dated, with a paragraph of typed text about it. But the rest of the pages are filled with drawings and notes made by Nancy.

There are a lot of unique notes and information in this book. In addition to sketches of the exterior of the costume, there are notes about the interior – how things were lined, what materials were used, where the boning was placed. How long the train was, and how much of the train was lined. Even things like the width of the fabric used, and the number of seams in a skirt are documented alongside detailed sketches. Technically things that can be learned through pattern books, but alongside the sketches it’s a lot easier to follow.

Ecspecially for things like lining and closures. Seeing how the fabric drapes over the closures, along with how they looked from the interior makes it seem more approchable. In addition to dresses, shoes, petticoats, hats, and chemises are all discussed as well.

Though I wouldn’t use this as a standalone reference for a costume, It’s a fantastic resource to use along side inspiration books (with lots of photos of costumes, but none of the construction) or pattern books that are hard to imagine in a three dimensional way.

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Those are all the construction focused/pattern books I own. Now I’m going to talk about inspiration books, which feature a lot of images of historical costumes, but very little information about the origin or interior of the garments. I use these when I’m not sure what to make, or when I want more references to build out a costume idea I already have. These first four are all illustrated, with no photos of costumes.

Complete Costume History by Francoise Tetard-Vittu (artwork by Auguste Racinet)

I originally discovered this when I took a class and the teacher had the large copy of this book. looked through it one day and fell in love with the full color illustrations that were packed onto every page, and the huge variety of styles it included.

I personally own the smaller version, which has two volumes. The first volume has the illustrations, and the second has more information about the drawings. The drawings in this book aren’t modern, they were created and researched in the 1800s, which means they aren’t the most accurate depiction of history.

But the drawings are beautiful. And every time I look through the book I find something new I want to make. Unlike most books it isn’t exclusively european fashion. It has pages devoted to Egyptian times, Ancient Greece, China, Africa, and Spain. In addition to hundreds of full page color illustrations it also has drawings of furniture, architecture, weapons, instruments, and even camels. It provides a well rounded image of not just what people wore, but also what they were surrounded by.

The only negative I can say about this book is that the time periods for each page aren’t labeled. They only have the country listed. Volume II does have additional information about each page, but it’s awkward switching between them. Now I know enough about historical fashion to know approximately which decade each page focuses on, but when I first got it I had no clue.

Also as I said earlier, this isn’t the most accurate depiction of history. If your goal is to make historically accurate costumes you’ll need additional references. Even if you don’t want to make historically accurate costumes you’ll probably want more references since most of these drawings only show one side of the garment, and don’t delve into the details.

But I love this book! Looking through it makes me happy and fills me with ideas. I would highly recommend it to anyone interested in historical fashion, regardless of whether they make costumes or not.

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Historic Costume in Pictures by Braun & Schneider

This book is quite similar to The Complete Costume History in that it consists only of pictures. Except this book lists the date on each page in addition to the country of origin, which I like. The drawings are more detailed in this book, though there are less of them, and the pages are in black and white.

The costumes plates in this book were originally researched and published in the later 1800s, so once again they aren’t the most accurate. But I still enjoy this book. When I got it I didn’t know very much about historical fashion, flipping through this gave me a good grasp on the various silhouettes and styles, how they evolved, and when they were popular. Since the information in it is limited, that means it’s easy to absorb. I’d highly recommend it to beginners, as long as they are aware that the drawings aren’t completely accurate and are willing to research the garments more on their own.

I don’t think I’ve made anything based on the drawings in this book, but I do enjoy flipping through it when in search of inspiration.  However I enjoy The Complete Costume History more and don’t think you need both.

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Victorian Fashions and Costumes from Harper’s Bazar, 1867-1898  by Stella Blum

I think this is a great book to get along with one of the ones listed above, since it covers the major decade they miss: The mid to late 1800s.

I purchased this early in the year since I was struggling to find references of garments from the 1890’s. Disappointingly, this doesn’t have a lot of pages devoted to that period. It’s far more focused on the bustle dress eras. But I’m very happy that I purchased it, since it’s made me enjoy, and respect a period of fashion I previously thought I hated.

Though these fashion plates were also drawn in the mid 1800s, they are very accurate since they depict the garments that were worn during that period.

This book has my favorite format of all the “Inspiration” books. Each dress is accompanied by a short, concise paragraph that talks about the style, colors, and when it was worn. It gives you enough information to research it further on your own, and some insights into how dresses were trimmed and the fabrics used.

Though the majority of the pages are devoted to full length dresses, there are many drawings of accessories. Headpieces, foundation garments, parasols, children’s clothes, shoes, and jewelry all have pages of their own.

I think this would be a valuable book for anyone who appreciates historical fashion in general. I didn’t expect to like half the examples in this book since I’m not a huge fan of bustle dresses, but I still really enjoyed reading through it and seeing how the styles evolved. It’s also been a fantastic reference for several of my projects, and served as the main inspiration for a few things I currently have in progress.

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Women’s Hats, Headdresses and Hairstyles: Medieval to Modern  by Georgine de Courtais

This is one of my most referenced books. It isn’t detailed enough to be a standalone reference on hats throughout history, but it’s a really great start and source of inspiration. I bought this when I knew very little about hats and after flipping through it once I had a basic understanding of  historical hats and what periods they belong to. Even now that I know more about hats, I’ll still look through this for ideas on what to pair with ensembles I’m planning.

The book has one page of numbered drawings accompanied by a page of text that explains each hat in greater detail. Something I like a lot about this book is that it talks about how hats evolve – it doesn’t just say “This is a flower pot hat, worn in the 1890’s” is says why they were called that and how they are different from the hats worn a few years prior. Along with how that style changed throughout the decade.

The book covers a huge range of time – from 1100 all the way to 1980, with the 1700’s and 1800’s being covered with the most detail.

A downside to this book is that the illustrations only show each example from one angle. The descriptions are very helpful, but short. So you don’t get enough information about each example to use them as your only reference when making a hat. The writing is also a bit blocky, and lacking line breaks between the explanations for each piece, so it isn’t enjoyable to read through in it’s entirety.

I’d still highly recommend it if historical hats are something you want to learn more about. It’s taught me a lot and was my main motivation for getting into headpiece making.

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Fashion: A History from the 18th to the 20th Century by The Kyoto Costume Institute

I think this is the prettiest book I own. And also the heaviest!

It’s a two volume set of books, which as far as I know have to be purchased together. The first book shows fashion from the 18th century to the early 20th century, and the second book is entirely 20th century fashion.

These books are beautifully put together, especially the first volume. I really can’t recommend the first book highly enough. The garments chosen are beautiful, and wonderfully styled and photographed. It’s incredibly inspiring to look through and made me fall in a bit more in love with historical fashion.

The photos mostly show the full length dresses, but there are pages devoted to the detail work and accessories. Each dress is accompanied by a very short explanation, with some having full paragraphs. Some pages have more text than others, but the real star of this book are the pictures. Most of the images are photographs, but some of them are paired with fashion plates and drawings.

Overall It’s a stunning collection of garments and photos. I’ve had it for almost a year now and I still really enjoy looking through it. It would make a fantastic gift, since not only is it a great reference, it’s also pretty enough that people who don’t really “get” historical fashion can enjoy it.

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Volume II however…Well, it’s not my cup of tea. I enjoy the first portion since the 1920’s dresses are beautiful, and a lot of the dresses from the 50’s are nice too.

The rest of it is a bit weird and I find the examples they chose for garments very odd. There are shoes made out of grass, dresses made from plastic, and a plethora of awkwardly shaped runway pieces. I understand that the uniqueness of these pieces are why a museum would have them in their collection, but I was disappointed by them. It didn’t feel cohesive with the tone of the first book. However if you like unusual fashion, and appreciate the more sculptural aspect of clothing you’ll probably really enjoy it.

Overall I think it was worth what I paid (a little more than twenty dollars). I would pay the same amount over again for just the first book, since I think it’s fantastic. But the second book isn’t my favorite, and I wish there was an equal amount of focus given to all the periods, rather than the 20th century getting a volume of its own, with the prior two hundred and fifty years compacted into one. More examples of fashion from the 1800’s and turn of the century would have made it a lot more enjoyable for me personally.

In Fine Style: The Art of Tudor and Stuart Fashion by Anna Reynolds

Speaking of pretty books, this one is a beauty! I purchased this as a visual reference since I wanted more examples of Elizabethan and mid 17th century fashion in my collection, something this book is filled with. Every page has at least one painting printed on it, and almost a quarter of the pages are taken up entirely by prints.

This book really focuses on the details, often cropping paintings to highlight the embellishment or textures used on the garments. It also pairs paintings with photographs of similar items to what’s worn in them. For example a chemise with blackwork embroidery is on the page across from  a tudor portrait of a woman wearing a blackwork embroidered partlet.

Even though the real star of this book is the artwork, there is a lot of text too. Far more than I had expected. To be honest I haven’t read a lot of it, since I purchased it primarily as a visual reference. What I have read was well written, but not especially captivating.

My only peeve with this book is the formatting. Large portions of pages are often left blank because of photo placement, ands sentences run on between several pages. For example “The embroidered waistcoat is clearly decorated in a similar manner to a waistcoat in the Fashion Museum, Bath. Wheras” – that sentence continues three pages later. It seems poorly planned.

Another note is that this book is divided into chapters such as: Dressing Children, Dressing Men, Dressing Women, Painting Dress, Dressing Across the Borders, etc. This is nice because it means all the examples within a chapter are relatively cohesive, since they have the same theme. I’m sure that makes it nicer to read too.

But I’m used to historical fashion books being sorted by date, with the earliest examples at the beginning. And in this they are scattered all over within the chapters. From the perspective of someone trying to use it as a reference, it can be difficult finding what I’m looking for. It usually means I have to look through the entire book to find anything – but it’s a beautiful book, so that’s usually a treat more than anything else!

Overall I love looking through it and the examples they chose to include. They never cease to inspire me. It’s visually pleasing from the outside too, and would be a nice coffee table book in addition to being a wonderful reference.

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20,000 Years of Fashion: The History of Costume and Personal Adornment by Francois Boucher

I think out of all the books I own, this one has the most “complete” coverage of historical fashion. It begins with prehistoric fashion before moving into things from the early third millennium. Egyptian artwork and how it depicts costumes has two chapters of its own – and so do many other periods that don’t fit into most historical fashion books. I reach for this when working on medieval projects, since it has far more examples of artwork from the 1000-1200s than any other book I own.

The book is quite text heavy, but every page is dotted with pictures that help give you a sense of the period. I’m not a huge fan of how this is written, it’s readable and interesting but not compelling. My attempts to read it from cover to cover have been squashed, but I do enjoy reading pages related to what I’m currently working on.

The pictures are a mixture of paintings, fashion plates, sculpture tapestries, and photographs. To get inspired I always flip to the pages about the period I’m planning on making something from. Though the pictures aren’t as pretty as other books, they pick a lot of unique examples that differ from what you usually see on pinterest.

It’s a book I’m very happy to have in my collection, but probably not one I would recommend as a gift since it isn’t as immediately exciting as the others.

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I have one technique focused book to talk about and then I’m done!

This is called The Art of Manipulating Fabric by Colette Wolff. The cover caught my eye when I was browsing, and the reviews won me over.

I don’t use this book very often, but it’s fascinating. Each page describes multiple techniques and has instructions on how to do them. The instructions are usually paired with diagrams that show the steps.

It begins with basic things, like making ruffles. Then moves onto similar, but more elaborate things that use the same techniques, like fluting and furrowing. It also has picture examples of everything – including gathering examples that show the fullness of of fabric when it’s gathered to be one half, one third, or one quarter of it’s original length.

The techniques get more complicated as the book goes on, but still cover basics like shirring, godets, pleating, and making simples flounces. A lot of the examples go far beyond the level of patience I have, but it’s still neat to see instructions about them, and how they look executed perfectly in the examples.

It’s an interesting book to have, regardless of your skill level. Since it covers the basics it can work for beginners, and I guarantee that no matter how long you’ve been sewing there will be something in here you’ve never seen before.

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Some other books I own but don’t feel comfortable reviewing yet include:

Authentic Victorian Dressmaking Techniques – I’ve referenced this for specific projects a few times, but haven’t read it from cover to cover. So far I like it and how they touch on things not usually mentioned in modern sewing manuals.

The Art of Sewing Books – I got these at a vintage book store. I like the way they are laid out and the diagrams but they aren’t relevant to what I’m currently doing so I haven’t read them.

Women’s Institute of Domestic Arts and Sciences manuals/textbooks – My Great Aunt gave me these and they are wonderful. I love the way things are explained and the huge variety of techniques. If you can find them I’d highly recommend them, they are really useful and also a piece of a history since they were printed in the 1920s!

That’s it for reviews! I hope you enjoyed this and found it helpful.

It would be nice if the comments were a bit of a discussion – are there any historical costume books you would recommend? Any I liked you that didn’t? Ones on your wish list?

I’m hoping to get “Fashion Victims: Dress at the Court of Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette”  for Christmas and am keeping my eye on “Art Nouveau Fashion” – I want more picture books!

Though I used amazon links in this post, remember to look around for better deals! A few of these were purchased from Barnes and Noble since they were cheaper there AND had $10 off coupons for Black Friday. A fifty dollar book on amazon cost me $28 with free shipping from B&N. Book prices also change all the time, so if something is too expensive keep checking back – I’ve seen prices drop from $55 to $38 in a day.

I think that’s all I have to say for today, thanks for reading and I hope you have a nice Thanksgiving – or if you don’t celebrate, then a really fantastic week in general!

 

 

 
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Posted by on November 22, 2016 in Reviews & Hauls

 

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

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

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

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

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

Now onto materials!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here they are worn with the cotehardie and tights!

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And the matching mantle.

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

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Sewed up the crotch seams and side seams…

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

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

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

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Gold and Ivory Gown, Photos

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Thanks for reading!

 

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Progress Report: May & June 2015

This is going to be a progress report! I haven’t done one of these in ages. If you aren’t familiar with these posts, they tend to be a bit all over the place and talk about my  projects in progress, what I plan on starting on in the near future, things I finished, and anything else I feel like that is vaguely related to costumes and sewing. May and June have been interesting months so I figured I would turn it into one long blog post!

In the past two months I’ve finished three projects….which doesn’t seem like very many. But in my defense one of those was a “big” project, and I was working on two new things as well.

One of those project is my Orchid Dress, which got a very mixed response when I posted about it. I’m actually quite pleased with how this came together. I really like the mixture of textures and the neckline. I think it’s really interesting, and different from my past projects. And certainly the closest i’ve gotten to making something “High Fashion”

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I also finished my Tudor project! I still have a couple blog posts to write about this, plus a video to edit which will talk a bit about each part of the costume, but the costume itself is done. Finishing this was a HUGE accomplishment for me. Though I don’t love how it turned out, I’m pretty happy with it considering how many pieces there are, and how tricky some of those pieces were to make.

Hopefully next week I can set up a backdrop, some candles, and do my best to get some nice photos of this. I really want to get photos that almost look like a painting come to life. But for now, here is a picture that definitely doesn’t look like a painting.

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I also finished Cinderella! I finished this long before the orchid dress and tudor costume, but it’s a good transition into the next topic. I like this dress as a shorter version of the one from the animated film. I think in that way, it’s cute. But that wasn’t my original vision so i’m a little disappointed with the end result.

However it’s really sparkly and fun to wear, so that’s good!

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And the way this transitions into the next topic is because it was the reason that here was a buzzfeed article about me! Which led to a HelloGiggles post and an interview on the Cosmopolitan website. Those articles ended up getting reposted and translated for a bunch of other sites too, so in addition to a huge view bump from the US i’ve been getting thousands from France, Russia, Italy, and strangely surprisingly, Belgium! Lots of places I hadn’t expected to have readers from, so that has been really neat!

I don’t expect my work to have a broad appeal, so it’s always a big surprising (but really great) to see it on sites that have a large audience. And even better to see that people actually seem interested. I’m really grateful for the kind comments I got, and of course the new followers! I really appreciate the support and I hope you are enjoying my blog!

Now for things I have in progress. Even though these are pretty far along they aren’t quite far enough along to blog about. Which is a bit annoying!

The first is a dress and jacket based off of the ones worn by Sophie Marie Grafin Voss in this painting. I want to get the dress finished soon, since it’s so summery and would look lovely photographed in a garden. I’m using off white fabric and lace, plus thousands of pink seed beads to decorate the lace.

I made the bodice a little while ago, but I only recently finished all the eyelets. And I still haven’t tried it on,. But i’m pretty confident it will fit well, since I did so many fittings between steps.

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For the skirt I fussy cut lace trim and appliques out of a lace fabric. It took me a good five hours, but I did it! Then this past week I used tea to stain the lace to match the fabric. It’s a very subtle stain, just enough to remove the whitish blue tinge.

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All the lace is now pinned onto the one hundred and eighty inch hem of the skirt. I’m sure i’ll have great fun stitching it on…

Though if I have trouble stitching it on then beading it will be REALLY miserable. I’ve never taken on a beading project this large before so I have no clue how long it will take and how difficult it will be. I guess I will find out soon!

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Part of making this project involved creating a set of pocket hoops. I made a pair last year but they were really, really, bad. This time I altered the pattern so the silhouette is a lot smoother and the construction is much better. I made a youtube tutorial on the process, which is posted here!

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And this is how they look with petticoats overtop. My petticoats are a bit ratty, but I think the shape is really nice!

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My other project is the second Cinderella dress, this one inspired by the dress from the live action film. The bodice is almost done. The fabric I used for this was annoying (lame, chiffon, and tulle – bleh) and my iron wasn’t working very well, so it’s less even and more puckered than it should be. But it looks good when worn!

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The real problem with it is that the eyelets that lace it closed have not been behaving. I tried metal ones first, and they betrayed me…

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So I replaced them with carefully embroidered ones and it happened AGAIN. I think I cried a little. I’m quite familiar with eyelets, so I don’t need advice on how to work with them, I think this was a case of me drastically misjudging how sturdy this fabric is…even though i’ve embroidered eyelets into organza and chiffon, the most delicate of all fabrics, and had them be fine.

Needless to say, this was not a good day for me and I’m not too excited to resume progress on this!

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Hopefully i’ll be starting on two new projects in the coming month. The first has been planned for a while, though i’m still not certain what the design will be. I’m making a dress based off of some things I got from Michaels. Those things include fake flowers, fake moss, burlap, and my personal favorite: Fake bird nests, which will make a lovely headpiece.

I think this will end up being a forest fairy type of thing. I might even attempt to make a pair of wings!

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I also might resort to taking on a procrastination project this month. Since my Cinderella dress isn’t going well and I can almost guarantee i’ll be fed up with embroidering lace after I sew on the four thousandth bead.

I’d like to make another easy, draped dress, which is once again inspired by how saints were depicted in artwork. I recently fell in love with this painting, it’s called “The Body of Saint Catherine of Alexandria Borne to Heaven” and painted by Mucke Heinrich. The image below does not belong to me and was taken from this page.

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I find the red dress in that picture especially inspiring, which is good because it gave me a reason to buy a fabric from joanns which i’ve loved for ages. This is a rust colored sari fabric with gold stamping on it. I love the weight of it and the mottled print, it feels a bit like chiffon and I think it will be gorgeous for a draped dress like the one above! I also bought some suiting for lining, since it’s sheer.

I got this during Joanns memorial day sale, so I believe they were both 50% off, plus 20% off your entire purchase. Not a bad deal!

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And speaking of fabric, I bought a little bit in NYC. I didn’t plan on purchasing any, I actually went into NYC to see the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I’ve been to the museum before, once to take cosplay photos (I cringe a little remembering this) and another to see a fashion exhibit. At those points I had no interest in historical fashion and artwork, so I didn’t appreciate the experience very much.

This time I went in alone, hoping to learn something and get really inspired. I think both of those things happened, and I really enjoyed the visit. Here are some photos of the ‘adventure’

I think the medieval statues, tapestries, and paintings were my favorite. It’s hard to research these things online since most of the results bring up reproductions popularized by renaissance faires. I’d like to make a dress similar to the one below (the name of this style is escaping me right now). I recently got six yards of fur trim I could use on a hem of a gown like this, so maybe it will happen soon!

This piece was especially impressive because it was huge, it was more than nine feet tall and ten feet wide. A better image is available here.

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One of the many medieval statues which I liked. I love the draping on these dresses. I have no idea what the pattern of one would look like, but I really want to make one. A better image is available here.

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The european painting gallery was lovely too.  I didn’t look at the archives online before going, so I had no idea what they would have or how much would be there. They ended up having a lot, including some Lucas Cranach works which were nice to see in person. They also had Peter Paul Rubens paintings, and a good amount of Rembrandts work. They are two of my favorite painters and I was so happy to see some in person!

I was kind of shocked at the size of everything, you don’t expect that 400 pixel wide image you see on pinterest or in a book to be eight feet tall in person. Definitely gives you a new appreciation for the artists!

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Unfortunately the historical costume exhibit was switched out for the “China Through the Looking Glass” collection – which was very pretty, but I would have rather admired eighteenth century stitch work instead.

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Okay – now onto the fabric! I didn’t get much. I got a bit of metallic gold brocade, some horsehair braid, and ten yards of satin faced chiffon. I’ve posted photos of very similar things in my past hauls (and I filmed a video haul for next week) so i’ll just show you my two favorites. The first is a floral print brocade, which I hated at first. I thought it looked like bloody starfishes and it grossed me out.

But now I think it looks like the most gorgeous floral brocade ever and I can’t wait to make a dress out of it.

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And the second is a white organza with laser cut blue flowers and embroidery attached. I love how delicate this fabric is, while still having a lot of movement and a fun flare to it. I think this would make a really nice skirt – something simple that doesn’t take away from the pattern, like a circle skirt.

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Now the very last thing I wanted to mention is that this month involved a bit of traveling! My family went up to Canada for a reunion, which was nice. But our trips over the border didn’t go that well. The first time we crossed through an indian reservation that had billboards about missing women and how white people weren’t wanted there. Then we crossed into the US on the same day prisoners escaped from Dannemora, so there were officers with M16s checking trunks. Not to mention checkpoints at the start of major towns, where Sheriffs would stop and question you. But we got back okay!

It stunted the progress on my costumes for a bit, but it wasn’t a total wash! We went to an antique bookshop that had a tiny craft section which I took advantage of.

I got two of the Art of Sewing books from the 70s. I love the covers of these, they are textured like fabric. It’s such a cute idea and they are really nicely laid out inside. Now I want them all – I think there are 16 in total?

I’m not sure how much use i’ll get out of these, but it was  only $10 for the pair. They have a few really nice diagrams on fabric manipulation and embroidery stitches, which are both things I want to improve at.

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I also got two more historically based books. I’m not sure how accurate the information still is, but I bought them mostly for the pictures. The top one is “The Horizon Book of the Renaissance” and the lower one is called “Costume of the Western World: Renaissance fashions” – both of which are really nice hardcover books with lots of fashion plates. I think they will work well as references for future costumes.

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And that’s everything! This was a massive post but I think it shows pretty much everything I did over the last month when it comes to costume work. Thank you for reading!

 
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Posted by on June 19, 2015 in Progress Report

 

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Making a Fluffy, Feathered Dress, Part Two

It continues! This is the second post about making my fluffy ivory dress, the first post talks about the concept and how I made the skirt. It can be read here, and the video that goes along with it is posted here! I would suggest viewing those first, if you haven’t already.

Now we can move onto the bodice, which I think is a lot more exciting.

I draped the bodice on my dress form, but the process was a little different than usual since I was working around the shapes of various appliques. I draped fabric tightly around the form, then started pinning the appliques on top to determine the bodice shape.

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When I had an idea of where that was going I draped things properly and ended up with this! It has an odd, low neckline, which will eventually be covered by feathers.

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Off the form the fabric pattern looked like this. Because of the low neckline and my complete lack of bust I managed to make it all one piece, which is great! If I can avoid sewing princess seams I will.

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I transferred the fabric pattern to paper and marked out the boning channels. I decided to make the bodice very structured because I knew the lace/mesh/layers of fabric on the front would add bulk, and I really didn’t want to look bulky in the dress (or any dress).

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I cut strips of the jacquard i’m using for the bodice and ironed the edges inward to get three quarter inch trim. These will be used for boning channels and to cover any raw edges.

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I cut out the bodice pattern and marked out all the boning channels. Then I lined the edges up and pinned my trim down!

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Those all got topstitched down. The amount of pins proved to be a bit dangerous but I managed to avoid getting blood on the dress, so all is well!

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I also stitched a half inch away from the top edge, this creates a “stopper” for one end of the boning and provides a guideline for how long each bone should be.

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I used hooping wire for boning since I wanted it to be really stiff and straight. I tipped it with duct tape and wrapped the ends in scotch tape to make sure it wouldn’t move. Not the best method, but it is fast and works!

Then I stitched a half inch away from the bottom edge, creating another stopper so the boning can’t escape.

Finally I pinned the top edge over.

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It got stitched down by hand, so I wouldn’t break any needles on the boning! The bottom edge doesn’t get turned over since that seam allowance is needed when attaching the skirt.

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That bias tape I made earlier got pinned over the raw edge to finish it off. I really didn’t want to add lining to this bodice so I decided on bias tape instead.

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Here it is all stitched down – I did this part by hand too!

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And I had a nice, but very plain bodice. It was practically begging to be embellished.

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….so I did just that. This is actually my “test” to get a good idea of how to lay things out. I’m using leftover fabric from the skirts, lace, sequins, and feathers that are glued to buckram. I believe these are sold for fascinator decoration, but I bought them a long time ago for a hood that I never made.

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All that got unpinned and (kind of) arranged around the blank bodice.

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The first thing to be attached was the ruffled jersey. Then the white feathers were stitched on with upholstery thread. Normal cotton thread gets shredded when sewing buckram which is why I used a much heavier alternative. I pinned mesh mounted chiffon flowers (fussy cut from leftover skirt fabric) overtop.

I was aiming for a very layered, texture heavy type of look.

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Then I added lace to the center front, and finally, the ivory feathers!

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It was still looking a little boring, so I went ahead and added dozens of sequins.

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And it was pretty  much done!

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I was really happy with it, so I moved on with the finishing touches. The first thing to do was add eyelets. I wanted this dress to zip closed but I forgot seam allowances at the back of the dress, so it ended up being an inch smaller than it should be. I can lace myself into things that are too small, but zippers aren’t that forgiving, which is why I opted for grommets!

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And that was pretty much it, actually. I sewed on the skirt and stitched up the back with a french seam. I should probably finish the seam at the waist with bias tape, but i’m leaving it for now since none of the fabrics fray that much.

This is the finished dress.
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And a close up of the bodice!  One feather is trying to escape. I might have to pluck it, but hopefully hairspray can fix it.

Overall I’m really happy with this dress. I think it’s very pretty. It is similar in shape to my flower dresses and I don’t think I learned anything from making it, but sometimes you just want to make something fun that you know will turn out well!

DSC_2934Even though the dress is done, I did make a mesh overlay which has sleeves on it. So this project isn’t over!

Also there is a video about making this bodice, and it is posted here!

Thanks for reading!

 
 

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Making a Silvery Blue Dress, Part One

Here is a new project! I started this when I was at a point where I didn’t have anything in progress and I didn’t feel comfortable starting on a big project because I hadn’t done enough research. So I chose a simple dress in a style i’m familiar with to keep me busy while I read up on elaborate dresses from the 1500s.

After watching “Galavant” I felt really inspired and decided to make a dress based off of Madalena’s Wedding Dress. Most of the costuming on that show drive me crazy (not in a good way), but I thought this dress was gorgeous, even if it isn’t anything near historically accurate!

I decided to use a blue brocade and a silvery blue ~mystery~ fabric that is silky on one side and matte on the other (definitely not satin or charmeuse). I talked about these materials in a Fabric Friday post ages ago, about how they were so pretty I couldn’t bear to use them. But now i’ve had them for almost two years and think it’s time they have a life beyond sitting in a box. I can always get more!

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I had planned on beading the bodice and creating a very full skirt but after deciding on the brocade and silver material I knew I wouldn’t be able to do either of those things. The brocade is delicate and I think it would catch on the beading, and the second fabric is too soft to form such a full design.

This sketch was done before I had picked fabric, so it isn’t quite accurate!

DSC_2015 I started by draping – this was a very easy pattern to drape!

This mock up features sexy delivery men. Of course.

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DSC_2017I removed it from the dress form and turned it into a paper pattern, which looks like this! Usually I would draft the front of the bodice as one piece, because princess seams didn’t exist in the 1400s. But in this case I wasn’t focusing on accuracy at all.

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I cut my pattern out from lining fabrics first. I decided to use scraps of batik – i’ve had these for ages and they are too small to use for draping and most mock ups, so it was nice to finally have a use for them! I think they look quite nice together too, funky lining makes everything better.

Once the pattern was cut out I sewed it together and tried it on – it was actually a pretty nice fit!

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 Then I cut  my bodice pattern out from brocade.

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 Which also got assembled.

DSC_2039 When all the seams were pressed I went through and stitched a 1/2″ away from the edge, around each edge. This prevents the brocade from fraying and creates a guideline of where to turn the edge over, without leaving any marks on the interior of your fabric.

(after the pen incident I have converted to using this method as much as possible)

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 I went through and turned over all the edges and secured them in place with a tiny running stitch. This is before it was ironed, the brocade is very delicate and prone to puckering so it didn’t look great at this point.

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 I repeated this process on the cotton lining. The only difference is that the center back edges were turned over by machine, and done in such a way that it creates a pocket. In this pocket I put a piece of plastic boning.

Without the boning whatever closure I add will be prone to bunching up, this solves that problem!

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 Speaking of closures, for this particular piece I wanted to try creating loops to lace through instead of eyelets. I made these by cutting one and a half inch wide strips of bias cut fabric – in this case I used the same fabric that will get used for the skirt.

I turned the edges inward, then folded them in half again. This is the same way you make bias tape, except I stitched the folded edges together.

I made twenty four two inch long pieces for the loops, and one piece that is three yards long to serve as the lacing.

DSC_2025 I pinned the bits of fabric (soon to be loops) onto ribbon.

DSC_2045 Then stitched over them a bunch of times. The end result were two pieces of ribbon with loops attached. Perfect!

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 Then I sewed these onto the back of the bodice lining and ta-da, a functional closure!

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Since the skirt fabric was now incorporated into the back of the bodice, I decided to bring some to the front by decorating the neckline with a folded bias cut strip of the material. I’m not sure why it is puckering a bit, I made it properly and ironed it loads. Luckily it looks find when worn, so i’m not going to get too upset about it!

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So that is it for this post. Because the next step was attaching the sleeves, and this post would be very long if I included that part too! Hopefully that will go up next week, along with another post. I’m going to try to get back onto my twice a week schedule because I miss it.

Thanks for reading!

 

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Making a pair of Bodies

My first “The making of” post for this year! I think it has been over a month since I’ve done one of these, which is crazy! I have quite a few things in progress right now, and two dresses i’ve completed, but I thought I would start with I finished yesterday: A pair of bodies.

As I mentioned in my last two posts, i’m going to be making a tudor ensemble! It will consist of a chemise, a pair of bodies, a hip roll, a farthingale, kirtle, sleeves, and a dress. I decided to start with the pair of bodies first, then built up and under from them.

“Bodies” were the 16th century equivalent of stays or corsets. A stiff foundation garment to give your body support and to create a conical shape, which was all the rage in the mid 1500s.

My pair of bodies isn’t meant to be seen, which is good because visually it didn’t turn out very well!! Like most of my attempts at foundation garments, it was a not complete success. But they fit, and are functional, which is more than I can say for some of my creations!

The pattern i’m using is from Norah Waugh’s “Corsets and Crinolines”. This pattern is labeled as being from the early 1600s, but i’ve seen very similar ones used for recreations from the mid 1500s, so i’ve decided to use it for just that!

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For materials I decided to use a hand embroidered linen napkin. I was given this a while ago and it was either embroidered by my grandmother or great grandmother many years ago. It is very pretty but stained and a little worse for wear, so I decided to repurpose it!

I’m using yellow thread for the boning channels, plastic boning, a canvas base, and green broadcloth for lining and bias tape.

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I copied the pattern from the book, then altered it a lot. I let it out almost two inches, changed the straps a bit, and made it longer in the waist. The tabs had to be adjusted as well.

Eventually my pattern looked like this!

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I cut everything out from the canvas first.

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Then drew out all the boning channels with pen. I also marked out where padding would go in the bust.

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I used the canvas as a base to cut out the top material. I tried to get this as symmetrical as possible – I thought I did an okay job, but it was almost a half inch off, boo.

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I stitched all the boning channels and ended up with this mess! You can’t backstitch with these things so all the threads have to be tied off and buried by hand.

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The fabric puckered really badly but it (luckily) ironed out with a bit of water.

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Unfortunately without me realizing the top layer of fabric slipped, and the pattern slid up half an inch on one side. Which makes the pattern difference almost one inch, since I cut them unevenly as well. It is my own fault for not checking the front of the garment between stitching, but still, i’m annoyed!

Here one side has the threads buried – can you tell which one I didn’t iron?

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Here all the pieces are just before adding boning! I was pretty pleased with how it was coming along, despite the embroidery not really lining up…

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Then disaster struck. I was using a purple sharpie to mark the boning lengths and a little spot got onto the front of the fabric. I, oh so cleverly, jumped into action and dabbed at it with alcohol which faded the mark completely! Unfortunately the alcohol lifted all the pen ink I used to mark the boning channels. Within minutes my tiny sharpie mark had turned into this…

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I scrubbed at it with dish soap and a toothbrush. I tried a bleach pen too, and it just made things wore. This was really frustrating, even though this garment won’t be seen I was trying hard to make it look pretty.

On the bright side, this has taught me a valuable lesson: Never use ink on a garment again. I don’t wash my dresses since they don’t get much wear, and it honestly never occurred to me that detergent or alcohol or potentially even water would lift the ink and damage something beyond repair.

I tend to use pen since I don’t  mind permanent markings on the interior of things and it doesn’t tug at fabric the way chalk and pencils do. But after this is experience i’m going back to wax/chalk pencils because I don’t want this to EVER happen again!

For salvaging the garment, I attempted to put patches over the mark, but the patches had raised edges which could create bumps and make the dress worn over it look a little lumpy. Which I definitely didn’t want.

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I tried patching it with muslin, but the ink stain showed through, and I couldn’t patch it with the linen because it frays too much. I ended up using a scrap of cotton sateen, trimmed the edges with pinking shears, and fused it over the spot. A few people suggested I dye the whole garment blue, or to add a patch on the other side, but both of those things felt wrong to me. I don’t think a mistake should effect your entire project, so I covered it and moved on!

I made bias tape from green broadcloth and stitched it on by hand.

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Before attaching the bias tape to the top layer, I padded the bust with some quilt batting.

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Then added the bias tape.

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I cut out the pattern from green cotton and assembled it. This is the lining.

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I sewed on the tabs and then pinned the lining in place.

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And whip stitched that in place.

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Then it was time for eyelets! I haven’t sewn a bunch of eyelets in a while, and after trying to do fifteen in a single evening my fingers were not happy with me. It took a few days, but I got them all done!

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It definitely isn’t the prettiest thing i’ve ever made, but it is functional, and when it comes to foundation garments that is the most important thing!

Here is how it looks worn.

(Without a chemise, because I haven’t made one yet)

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Now I just have to make the understructure for the skirt, the chemise, kirtle, sleeves, dress and headpiece. Yikes. It is kind of scary to think that this was one of the easiest pieces of the set and gave me so many problems! Hopefully I ran into all my problems on this piece, and everything else will be easy.

Thanks for reading!

 

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