Thursday, December 14, 2017

17th Century... sort of?

This picture just floated up in a sudden flurry of 17th century research (I have been reading The Vizard Mask, by Diana Norman, set in the second half of the century).

That blue-shot-gold bodice is STUNNING. Imagine my dismay when I discovern that the painting isn't actually contemporary to its time, and was instead painted around 1838, by Henri Leys. Having not seen any of these fur-trimmed short jackets with any kind of tailored back, I was super excited for a hot second (before realizing that it was probably designed in the artist's imagination, as he fondly looked back upon a former century.)

Maybe I make it anyway? Considering.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

White Striped Voile Regency Gown

I finally have a white Regency gown! It has been on my list for a while, and made it to the top in prep for the Jane Austen Festival.

The fabric for this dress is from Mood Fabrics, and is a lovely sheer cotton. The construction is bib-front, held up with buttons on the shoulders and a tie around the back.

I do love the sweetheart shape of the front neckline, although it does need some adjustment. I ran the waistband tie all the way through a channel in the front waistband - when I adjust this I will tack the ties down, so that they can't gather the front waistband (which doesn't work so well with these vertical gathers).

My favourite parts of this dress are, the pooouuuufy sleeves, and the high gathered skirt back. The sleeve pattern is just shy of two feet wide, and I think it could be even poufier. What I would do differently next time... less gathering into the front of the armhole. The bottom edge of the sleeve is gathered with a small twill tape threaded through a channel formed by the hem of the sleeve.

The hem has a little train, which I also want to repeat on my next gown. One just feels more fancy with a tiny train.

A couple shots below of the pattern and interior... Because this fabric is fairly fragile and I didn't want to stress it too much with the weight of the gathers at the back, I layered a 1/2" strip of straight grain on the seam. This seems to have done the trick.

I started with a basic darted draft (how to make this will be blogged separately), and then I taped it together and recut it into the shapes below for this gown.

The back/base of the bodice (will be) laced in the front (once I get around to putting in the eyelets, for the festival I pinned it directly to my corset. The extension is two layers of linen, with an extra scrap of voile at the center front to stabilize it a bit more. The fabric exterior just runs straight down from the strap. What would I change about this? Extend the lining further down! It kept popping out above my apron straps.

That's all I've got for now - there are a few edits pending, but I'm looking forward to making this pattern again! With even poufier sleeves!

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Jane Austen Festival!

This is absolutely my favourite picture from the entire festival. Matti's Millinery & Costumes and Pride in Parasols.

I just realized yesterday that I hadn't blogged about the Jane Austen Festival yet - but I have so many pictures from it! It was a lot of fun, and not as hot as I expected.

Last time Kenny and I went to this festival was three years ago. I've wanted to go since, but it just never worked out. Turns out, it has gotten more popular over the past few years! The ball and all the workshops were totally booked up when I registered (literally 24hr after registration opened). Fortunately, I put myself on a couple waitlists and was able to get into two workshops: Netting a Reticule with Tim Nealeigh, and I Take Pen in Hand with Brian Allison.

Both workshops were well worth the pennies - the netting was HARD. But cool. It is super satisfying to learn a challenging new skill. Afterward I enjoyed combing over the construction of Kenny's costume with Mr. Nealeigh, who knows his stuff. Mr. Allison's workshop was almost like an educational lecture + pen-making skills; he shared a lot of great information and history behind quill pens, how they were made, and a few fun historical anecdotes to help all the info stick. Definitely looking forward to next year's workshops, as the ones this year were excellent!

There were some lovely vendors, and it was fun to see everybody's booths.

Flying Hearts Millinery was there, with a tent full of beautifully crisp white caps. I so wanted to snap one up, but am still waffling about how a cap will look on my (lack of) hair.

There were also some lovely forms as well as decorated bonnets at Virgil's Fine Goods - this black and tan straw poke caught my eye. Next year, I'm snapping up a bonnet! Or I'll learn to make one between now and then. Headwear is on the list.

Dames a la Mode was there, sharing a tent with RedThreaded. She had an array of mourning jewelry in honor of the theme this year (which was mourning, to honor the bicentennial of Jane Austen's death on July 18.) I snagged myself a pair of beautiful deep olive earrings.

I am not acquainted with this lovely lady, but her look was en pointe. 

Daniel Boone Trading Post had lots of accessories like scissors, glasses, cameos, and shoes. At the Friday Night Twilight shopping event, I picked up a giant kerchief from this tent, which I styled for my working class look on Sunday.

Reproduction canes at Amazon Dry Goods. That one in the middle features a hidden compass and glass vial!

Bingley's Teas featured at the festival tea services, and was delicious as ever. Marianne's Wild Abandon was the fave.
LBCC was there with a great many beauty and apothecary items. I ALMOST came away with some blush, but decided to ponder on it a little longer. Kind of regretting that, should have picked it up there instead of waiting to pay shipping on it!

I wore a new white striped voile gown, which will be blogged about later, over my new Bernhardt stays (which held up admirably! They were super comfortable, I didn't really notice them after a while.) 

Lady Caroline Linnington gave a couple of an excellent and informative lectures about mourning customs and attire during the early 19th century - I learned a great many things I had never heard of before. The educational value at this festival was wonderful this year - I am already looking forward to next year's events! 

Of course, my Kenny Dean came with me and carried my basket of whatnot through the hot days. He was dapper and I find him immensely lovely for trooping through the weekend in costume with nary a complaint. (Although he said he would appreciate having buttonholes on his jacket next time - they STILL haven't been completed. This tailcoat is a long-term UFO.)

Finally - my swag! I came home with a pair of earrings from Dames a la Mode, the afore-mentioned head-kerchief from Daniel Boone, and this lovely busk from RedThreaded (a collab between Redthreaded and Festive Attyre.)

Monday, July 10, 2017

Blog URL change!

I've changed the URL to my blog! It is now "", whereas it was formerly "". Felt the Regency bit was somewhat limiting.

Let me know if you were unsubscribed! As far as I know, subscriptions should stay the same, the only things that may break are Pinterest links.

Thanks for popping in and I hope I will continue see you here as I wander farther down this costuming adventure!

Elasticated Garters - Part 2 - Springs (and it's finished!)

They're finished! Not a quick and dirty project by any means. But I love them! One of my goals is to invest more in the accessory side of my historical wardrobe; I designed fashion accessories for a living, so why not invest in historical accessories? 

I haven't found a lot of info on how to put together these spring-loaded elasticated items (Sabine's post on her spring-elasticated Corset de Soie is the closest thing - she pointed me in the direction of the springs!) The construction is fairly straightforward, but I learned a few important things along the way. 

Aren't they beauts? The plan is to get a jewelers saw and try to make some custom hooks eventually. But that is $40 down the road, and I have other things to make in the next three days. Because I am thoroughly unprepared for the Jane Austen Festival and it starts on Friday. 


This is a semi-tutorial in a million pictures. It's a long post. Just warning you. 

First, to give the garters a little softness (all the garters I looked at seemed somewhat "soft", so I estimate there was some kind of wadding in there) I layered a thick strip of wool coating that I had laying around, onto the center of the garter. 

The raw edges of the embroidered outer fabric were then folded over the edge of the wool, and whipstitched down.

This part was really satisfying - it was like padstitching through super thick wool so you don't have to worry about your stitches being fine and delicate. Big ol' sloppy stitches that just fly across the length of fabric. 

After whipping the wooly insides to the embroidered outsides, I stitched the flat silk extension onto one end. This is when you stitch on the springs (because otherwise it is a beast to stitch them on after you've gotten half the lining stitched down. I wouldn't know this by experience or anything, obviously, because I do everything right the first time. *ahem*) 

The springs are like noodles and are a big pain, but it doesn't matter if they stick out every which way. The channels that will be stitched later will help straighten them out. Make sure these securing stitches go through all layers of fabric - they will hold a lot of tension when the garters are finished. 

WHAT I SHOULD HAVE DONE AT THIS POINT: tied colored threads to the loose end of each spring, so that when the channels were finished I could just pull the threads to guide the springs through each channel. I deeply regret this! Do this if you make these garters or something similar! 

Next, the lining is added! I used muslin - would use linen next time for extra grippiness. This is just one long strip, no seam in the middle necessary. I whipped this onto the embroidered section (only went through a couple layers of fabric, not all the way to the outside layer.) 

Then I prick-stitched the remainder of the lining to the flat, non-fluffy extender piece. This did go through all layers, which helped stabilize it as this edge is part of a spring casing. 

About an inch or so before the end, I had to stop the prickstitching and fold the lining back, so that I could fold down the end of the extension piece and finish it off. The springs would be stitched to that fold-over seam. 

This is what it looked like on the outside at that point, with the springs sandwiched inside: 

Next, the channels were stitched with a simple running stitch. Same as for the lining edges, I left off stitching an inch or so before the end to leave wiggle room to secure the springs. 

Then, I started to shimmy the fabric down over the springs. This is when those theoretical threads attached to the springs I mention above would have been useful. REGRETS. It took me forever to gather all that fabric on those tiny springs. (In hindsight, I should have used way less fabric. I didn't realize that I would need to cut my springs so short, and I overestimated.) But, with the help of a couple extra fingers from Kenny, I eventually got the springs all through. It felt like a big win when they popped their little springy heads through the end of the channels. 

What I would do differently next time (I always have a list of these things, and I write them down so that I actually remember next time!):
  • Make the embroidered bits shorter and the springy bits longer. They just ended up feeling a bit disproportionate when compared to extant examples. 
  • Leave more space at one end of the embroidery for a larger hook (as I want to hand-cut more accurate metal hooks and bars for the next pair). 
  • Add those strings to my springs to pull them through the channels! That's a biggie. 

These were originally intended for the Historical Sew Monthly "Circles, Squares, and Rectangles" challenge, so here's the nitty gritty on these bad boys: 

What the item is: garters elasticated with metal springs

Challenge #4; Circles, Squares, and Rectangles: all the fabric components of this are rectangular. And the springs are circles, really! Lots and lots of circles.

Fabric: silk sateen, a layer of batiste stabilizing the silk, chunky wool herringbone for the interior, and muslin for the lining. And springs. Noodly, frustrating, magnificent springs.

Pattern: None. Just eyeballed extant examples and measured my legs to fit.

Year: 1795-1810 (which is when the extant examples I found were dated by their respective museums.)

Notions: trouser hook and eye, soon(ish) to be replaced with a handmade hook and bar, hopefully.

How historically accurate is it? the shape and techniques are accurate, although the wool is not necessarily period-correct and the hook is definitely modern. I'd give it a 90%.

Hours to complete: around 100hr. I can't believe I spent 100hr sitting and stitching on these. No wonder they took a while to finish! The embroidery was therapeutic, though, and if I made them again I would probably be faster at it, now that I've more practice.

First worn: for this photoshoot! Hoping to wear it to the Louisville, KY Jane Austen Festival in a couple weeks.

Total cost: all of the fabric was scrap (it only took approx. 48 square inches of fabric), and the hook I already had, so probably just $13 for the Wilesco springs!

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Bernhardt Stays, Round #2, Finished!

The Bernhardt stays are finally done! The actual making did not take so long as the getting around to making, but I am glad they are finished - now I can move on to making a base pattern for a dress, This weekend I was lucky enough to have my wonderful photographer sister, Elizabeth Ann, in town! We braved the incredibly muggy Atlanta heat to snap some pictures of the finished stays.

These stays definitely provide excellent lift and separation. It is important that the straps be snug for this! Because there are no bones along the side-front of the corset, the tension of the strap is what provides any side-breast support. (My straps are actually a bit too long, so I am cheating in the above picture and tugging the strap tight with my opposite arm. You can see in the below-right picture that the straps are tied ALL the way tight against the top edge of the stays. There should be a gap there!) 

Despite taking a while to stitch, these were relatively easy to put together. The elements that took the longest time were the little hand-stitched elements, reenforcing stitches around the corners of the gussets and the eyelets.

My notes on this as a curvy gal... I have a bust-waist difference of 10", and a waist-hip difference of 12". This pattern still is awesome for this shape, but it means that the hip gussets need to be pretty wide, and need to be carefully sliced exactly to natural waist. Something to keep in mind is that as this pattern is expanded, the length from top CF to top CB expands at a much faster rate than the length around the waist (see illustration below). This suits small sizes and curvy (high bust-waist-hip differentials) shapes. It may not work as well for an apple or rectangle shaped body, because it creates such a distinctive cone shape from waist to top edge.

The busk is a paint-stirrer (classic DIY busk material) trimmed and sanded to remove all sharp edges. Hoping to get a fancy schmancy one for the next version of these stays.

They were a bit hastily made - the next pair I make will be handstitched and more carefully fitted, but I needed to just get them finished so that I could move on to a dress! All in all I still like them despite the flaws. I prefer perfectly smooth stays, without wrinkles - I'm not sure that is possible with this pattern (with so few bones) on my fluffy shape, although they may be smoother with a more sturdy fabric. Wrinkles and all, these stays are comfy! I'm looking forward to wearing it through an event to see how they hold up.

Things I would do differently next time:
  • Handstitch the whole thing. This provides better control over gusset insertion - I don't love the ripples caused by my machine stitching through 9 layers of fabric around each gusset. 
  • Select a lining that is as inflexible as the outer fabric. The lining for this sample ended up having a lot more "give" and slight stretchiness, which results in internal wrinkles that you can see through the outer layer. 
  • Add an extra inch of fabric at center back. The gap can actually be about an inch closer than it ended up being in photos, but I'd like just a little more coverage and a little less lacing gap. 

Since this was begun LONG ago as a Historical Sew Fortnightly (2014) challenge, "Under It All",  I'll wrap it up with the same deets!

What the item is: Stays modeled after direction by J. S. Bernhardt, c. 1810-11.

Challenge #4, Under It All: this fits the challenge because it is a foundation! It goes under any outer clothing of the era.

Fabric: three layers of plain woven cotton - the top two layers are fairly fine and tight, the inner layer is a slightly looser weave. I thought it was coutil, but was clearly wrong. Next time I will use the same fabric for the interior and exterior, or a tightly woven linen for the interior.

Pattern: Enlarged from J. S. Bernhardt's sewing manual, which I got from Sabine of Kleidung um 1800.

Year: 1810-11

Notions: a length of cord for lacing, and a paint-stirrer for the busk.

How historically accurate is it? the shapes are quite accurate. The actual stitching and fabric, not so much. I'd give it an 80%.

Hours to complete: of actual sewing? Probably 50 or so, most of which was occupied with the eyelets and gusset reinforcement.

First worn: for this photoshoot! Hoping to wear it to the Louisville, KY Jane Austen Festival in a couple weeks.