Wednesday, July 20, 2011

We have sleeves!

Though I spent most of last night hanging out with friends, I was able to finish putting the sleeves on my jacket which I'd started on Monday night.  I actually didn't have too much trouble with these, which was nice!  I decided to do more bias ruffles in the stripe for the sleeve ruffle instead of just white.  Since the ruffle on the back of the tail is striped too, I figured it would go more.  I also decided to not do a zone front.  Instead I altered the bottom to be flat.  So now all that's left to do is finishing the center fronts, since I'll be pinning it closed.  I do need to do some fixing there.  I cut the stripe with a much bigger seam allowance for the CF and the lining is too short now for where the closure should go.  This is because I draped the pattern over my yellow stays and my new linen stays are not quite as confining.  Which also means more comfortable!  But I'm getting wrinkles because it also means they are more curvy.  Anyway, it's close to done, so that's good!

I need to finish up the fichu but I draped it over everything last night and I like the look of it.  I need to figure out how I'm going to close it.  I need a little corsage of flowers or a bow or something.  Those longer ends will be trimmed off, I'm just worried about making a mistake...

Other than finishing up minor details the only thing left to really worry about is the hat!  Still don't know what I want to do about that.  But here's what I have so far, pinned into place, set on top of Miss Ella to see the effect of the whole ensemble (although admittedly the hat is hard to see in this pic).  I may change the ribbons on the hat and use the same red stripe as the sash.  Not sure.  Or I may scrap the whole hat idea and just do a turban or finish my cap or something!  Though my cap is not at all close to the "fashionable" size of the time, it's way too small! :)  Sorry for the crappy iphone pictures, apparently the light in the room is very yellow... 

Monday, July 18, 2011

So much to share!

Wow, I have a lot to write about.  Trying to decide whether to break it down into smaller posts or just spill it all out here.  Well, one at least will need it's own post, so for now I'll stick to the updates about my French Revolution outfit.

The petticoat is assembled, it just needs a hem and closure (I attached it to a waistband instead of ties, I find it's less bulky).  I'm still trying to decide what length I want it to be.  I could keep it longer if I wanted, so that may be what happens, all the fashion plates I've been looking at are longer.

I also colored my shoes black this weekend!  I ended up using acrylic paint instead of buying dye.  We had colored bridesmaid shoes for my sisters wedding this way and so I knew it would work, plus, I use this technique at work all the time to match cloth for repairs all the time.  It also has the added benefit of being waterproof!  If they get wet, they won't bleed, compared to dying them, and as I'm planning on wearing these outside, I figured that was a good idea.  I wouldn't try this with lighter colors though, you need a few coats to cover the brush marks and so with the black it was perfect.  I just kept adding layers until it was uniform and dark!

I also made cute little ribbon bows with my new buckles for the front.  Since I ripped off the old decoration on the front, I'll always need something there because I couldn't get all the glue off.  This hides it nicely and looks cute to boot! :)  I didn't have any black ribbon, so I used green, which actually was a symbolic color as well during the revolution.

I finished my fichu as well.  Well, I finished embroidering it on my machine, and then spent a couple of nights picking off all the tear away stabilizer from the back, ugh.  And of course I find out now that there's a soluble stabilizer that's thicker and stiffer.  I could only find a saran-wrap weight at Jo-Ann's so I used that on the front and the tear away on the back.  It's not perfect, but I'm pleased with how it's turned out so far.  This one will not be able to wrap around, but that's ok.  Now I just need to cut it into shape and hem the front edge.  The back will be left raw as I'll follow the satin stitch scallops on the bottom.

The other thing I worked on was trying to figure out a hat.  I have yet another straw hat from Michael's that I think I'll decorate.  And I thought I might use the vintage millinery supplies I got in the LA Garment District last year.  They are a pinkish red ribbon and a lot of yellow ribbons, flowers and trimmings.  I didn't know if it would look good with my outfit though over all.  To change it up, instead of having another straw hat, I covered the crown.  I pleated a length of starched white cotton and wrapped it around the brim, as it seems I've seen things like this a lot in fashion plates.  But what I'm realizing is that most of the outrageous hats I like are from 1787, not 89.  So I may change my mind.   Right now everything is just pinned on, litterally, I just threw it on there.  What do you think?  The red ribbon matches the red stripe ribbon I'll use on my jacket pretty well.  And the yellow ribbon around the brim will be completely sewn down, not puffed like that.  I just wasn't sure of the yellow and black.  Oh yeah, I'm thinking of putting some black feathers on it too.  In one of the books I was reading about the French Revolution, yellow and black actually had some meaning for the opposition.  The way the information was worded in the book I couldn't tell if they meant the revolutionists or the opposition to the revolution.  But most of the royalists used white as their color, or black.  The revolutionists used red, white, blue, green and apparently also yellow and black.  Anyway, do you think it will go?  Is the hat too much?

You really can't even see the straw anymore.
I also haven't decided what's the front and what's the back.

I found this great fashion plate that is actually very close to what my jacket looks like (in the back at least).  So now I'm thinking I might turn the front into a zone with the red stripe ribbons going across a gathered white stomacher.  What do you think?  I was already planning to do elbow length sleeves with white ruffled cuffs at the bottom.  And now I'm thinking I need a simpler hat.  Maybe just some bows and the feathers?

So this week it's finishing the jacket, hemming the skirt and putting together a hat!  I think it's doable!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Done! For now...

So the pink linen stays are done for now!  I finished binding the top of them last night, added grommets for the straps and tea dyed the lacing cord so it wasn't so blindingly white compared to the pink and natural stays.  I also tried them on again, the first time with all the boning, and I'm happier with them than I was before.  If I don't tighten the top so much I do get more of the bow front, plus, they are pretty comfortable!  So that's good!  Of course, now the jacket doesn't fit as well in the front as it did.  I draped it over my older stays, so I'll either have to figure out a way to fix it or live with a bit of wrinkling.  The front is cut on the bias so I don't know why it's wrinkling so much.  Maybe I need to pin it tighter.  Anyway, I'll figure that out.

The light was pretty yellow, so it's not quite true to color... oh well.  And this was before putting in the shoulder grommets.
Last night I also made up a little crochet headband that I had seen online (anyone else use Pinterest?  it's great... let me know if you want an invite).  It's "queen anne's lace" pattern, and while I might not wear it all that often, it is pretty cute and was super fast.  I did it in about 40 minutes of watching "So You Think You Can Dance" on hulu.  I'm trying to catch up and didn't feel like whipped gathers (my cap is close to done but I'm losing steam...).

Made with a pretty turquoise bamboo yarn.
 Tonight I'm going to start working on my fichu.  I may start with a smaller size just because I have a piece of voile that is already cut, from my skirt, and it's not quite big enough to wrap around and tie in back, but I'd hate to have to cut a new one and it would be kind of a waste of fabric.  So I'll start with this one and if I want a bigger size, I can do that later.

Still need to figure out a hat.  I can't find my pink pouffy hat right now.  I have no idea what I did with it in my move upstairs.  It's not with my other hats and it's not in my costume boxes, so that's a problem.  Guess I'll have to keep my fingers crossed I find something useful at the flea market this weekend!

And I should probably finish my petticoat and sleeves soon, otherwise, I won't have anything to wear these accessories with! :P

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Sometimes I forget...

Sometimes I forget that I've only been doing this historic costume thing for under two years still.  I've been interested in it for so long, and I feel like I have good hand skills, so when I can't get something to work how I want or if I don't know everything about an era or if it's not perfect I get really hard on myself.  This is a reminder to myself to chill the heck out.  I feel like I've come a long way in just those two short years.  Sometimes looking at things I made just starting out I can really see my progress and it makes me happy to know that I can only get better from here, right?

I finished boning and started binding my new stays last night.  They are looking pretty cute if I do say so myself! :)  I'll have to snap a picture of them soon.  I forgot to do that last night.

Just so it's not a picture-less post I'll share a pic of the lovely pile of ribbons I bought on my trip to Utah just a few weeks ago.  There is a great pharmacy actually that sells lots of nick-knacks and clothes, and also, randomly, super pretty, super cheap ribbon.  Even silk ribbon!  So I went a little crazy.  But I need more hats! :)  So now the question is, what to use first...

As for my French Revolution hat I think I'm going to look for something at the thrift store and the antique show I'm going to this weekend that I can use as a base.  I don't feel like starting from scratch.  I always have my big pink pouffy hat from the picnic last year that I can wear.  It was common to mix pink and red together, so I'm not worried about it "going".

Oh, also good news, my Georgiana shoes are on their way to me!  Yay!  That means I'll have them in time!  The question is now, should I try to dye them before?  I was thinking of dying them pink since I feel like that will just go with everything.  The dresses I already have will all match pink, plus I already have a pair of ivory shoes, so keeping them that color isn't necessary.  My other question is whether to do this myself (following the Dreamstresses instructions) or to take them somewhere.  I'm worried about time in the case of the latter, but I could always wear them and then get them dyed.  I am mortally afraid of ruining them.  It is an outdoor event, so I guess we'll see.  This of course is going to make me want the Devonshires too, the leather version.  And all this is dependant on whether they actually fit when I get them... :P  Anyway, something to look forward to!

I also spent part of last night looking through the books I checked out.  I feel ok about doing a crossed and tied in back fichu, which makes me happy.  I got an embroidery card that will be perfect for whitework on a fichu, so I'm going to get started on that soon as well.  I'm also close to being done with my cap, so that will give me an option if I don't want to wear my wig or really do my hair.  I think caps under hats look super cute.

Anyway, that's the update so far!  I won't have much time for working on things tonight or later this week (hooray for Harry Potter!!) but I think I'll still be able to get everything done in time.  Especially if I'm not such a freaking perfectionist!

Monday, July 11, 2011

New pink linen stays

So this weekend I started and have almost finished a new pair of stays.    I realized that my only pair of 18c stays are more 1770's shape and I needed late 1780's early 90's for my French Revolution jacket ensemble.  So I drafted a pair based on the 1790 brown jean pair in Jill Salen's book.  I made them front and back lacing, just to make fiting a bit easier, cause I'm lazy like that.  They are also meant to be very light weight and cool, as I don't love wearing tons of layers in the middle of summer.  Plus, I've realized I don't need a ton of shaping. :P

They are made from three layers of linen, two are a natural medium weight and the outter layer is very light weight light pink.  I sewed them with the seam allowances on the outside and then clipped and covered them with bias tape.  All of the boning is light weight cable ties and I was even lazy enough to use metal grommets for the lacing.  There was no way I was going to handsew all those eyelets by next weekend and finish an entire outfit.  I just didn't care enough this time.  But I'm glad I didn't because I don't love the fit.  I was going more for the "prow front" shape and I didn't really get that.  Maybe it's because my chest is almost non-existent?  That could have a lot to do with it, but I also may not have made the curve on the front piece big/dramatic enough.  I feel like it gives me about the same results as my old pair.  Though they are much lighter!  And perhaps more comfortable.  They are shorter waisted and also a bit lower in the bust.  So there are some differences.  I may re-do the neckline of my jacket, as they were wide and low at this time period.   I don't want to make it *really* low, though I will be filling it in with a fichu.  Anyway, all that's left to do on the stays is to get some more cable ties (only one side is fully boned), bind everything (I have yet to ever finish binding a pair of stays, so we'll see when this ever happens, the top gets done but not the tabs) and figure out what I want to do for straps.  I thought at first I wouldn't do straps, but they sit wrong without them, they slip down in back.  So for now I'm using ribbons pinned from the back.  I like how easy that option is so I may just add some grommets and use ribbons!  I could always make straps that tie on with ribbons later if I didn't like just the ribbons...

Lots of things left that I'm still trying to figure out.  I really want big fichu that will wrap around and tie in back, but from what I've been able to find, that wasn't necessarily the style then?  It certainly comes in after in the 1790's. And might also be before?  I guess I should say, my outfit is aimed at 1789.  I might just do what I want though and not care.  At this point I just want to be able to get it all done and have something to wear!  I've been on hold with the skirt because I'm not sure walking length was popular then either, but I don't want it longer, though if my new shoes don't get here in time I won't have good shoes to go with it.  I don't know what I want to do for accessories and I don't really like the hair options either.  I'm much more partial to the 1790's, transition to the empire fashions.  The late 1780's all seem to have this straight piece hanging down in the back, I am not a fan of it really.  I will probably just wear my blonde wig.  It will look good enough, but that's going to be so hot!  Also, what should I do for a hat?  So many questions!

I checked out some books from the library at lunch today about fashion in the revolution and so we'll see what I can find there if it helps me figure out what I'm doing.  Anyone have any opinions?

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Patriotic sewing

So, while I didn't have any super exciting plans for the 4th this year, I still made it a patriotic weekend!  We've planned out events for the rest of the year for our little costuming group and it's got me all excited to get going on them.

First up, I've decided to have a Bastille Day Celebration Picnic!  I was jealous of the fun Philly events that were going on for that so decided to throw my own!  So of course I need something to wear that is appropriately patriotic.  And isn't it convenient that the French and American colors are the same? :)  So I started a little blue and white striped jacket and a new froofy white petticoat.  I have some red and white striped ribbon that I will wear around my waist and of course I need to figure out some other accessories, like a crazy hat and a big fichu.

I matched the striped in center back! :)
 Here's what I have so far.  The bodice is assembled except for the sleeves (and strap) and center front closure (I need to try it on first).  The peplum was a curved rectangle shape that I attached bias cut ruffles to and then just box pleated to fit the back.  I'm pleased with how it's turned out so far!

You can also see the pink batiste curtains I hung this weekend.  It adds some much needed color to the sewing area.
I also realized I needed a bigger and better bum pad.  While my other one is fine, I wanted a much more exaggerated "shelf" look in the back.  So I created a giant petal shaped one.  It went together very quickly and I'm pretty pleased with the effect!

Does this make my butt look big?  Yes?  Good!

I started the petticoat as well (not the one shown in the picture).  It's 5 58" panels of very sheer batiste, two for the front and three for the back.  I thought about putting a big ruffle on the bottom, but then when I looked through more fashion plates I didn't find many examples of that, so I'm just leaving it plain.  I'm hoping someday to do some machine embroidery on it.

So, I'm close to done with that, but guess what?  I've decided I want proper 1780's stays.  Mine are much more 1770's.  I thought I would never be that person, to feel the need to make new underwear for every little change in an era, but there's something else motivating this need.  I don't want to be too hot!  And I can make the new pair out of just two layers of linen and only lightly bone them!  The jacket is already very lightweight, which I'm happy about, but my yellow silk stays are so hot, so I think this would really help.  I have some really nice linen in the stash and I think it could be a fairly quick project.  Especially as I never manage to actually finish my stays, I hate binding them!  The other plus is they might not show as much through the fabric (you can see my yellow ones a bit under the bodice, which I didn't notice until I took the picture), the linen I have is cream, so on me, basically flesh colored! :)  So I'm going to try to get those done before I finish up the jacket, especially the center front.

I also worked on handsewing an 18th century cap while watching the History Channel's documentary series about the Revolution on Netflix which made me feel very patriotic.  I'm about half way done.  I won't be wearing this with the Revolution outfit though.  This is for later this summer!

Anyway, that's it so far.  I'll leave you with one of the images inspiring me:
From Dames a la Mode. Very patriotic, non?

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The weekend update

I promised photos of my pioneer outfit. Unfortunately I forgot that I didn't have my SD card in my camera, so I had to take pics with my phone. So they aren't the best quality! Sorry!

The BBQ and celebration was a lot of fun, especially as I was able to catch up with my fellow costumer, Alexandra. We've made lots of fun plans for our costume group for the rest of this year! I'm excited which I'll talk more about later!
With sleeves rolled up.

With Dara and Alexandra.

My skirt doesn't look that full, but trust me, without the (semi-)corded petti it would look awful.

So here's the dress.  It's a printed brown and pink cotton. The lining is fitted and boned with the cotton print gathered over it. I'm mad about what I did with the back. I thought to macth the gathering from the front and so I added more to the center back, but I don't like how puffy it turned out. But I didn't have the fabric, time or inclination to do anything about it, so there it is. This was seriously a quick project. From start (draping it) to finish it took me about 4 nights. I piped all the seams on the bodice as well as the waistband. Because I was too lazy to really figure out how to make a dog-leg closure work, I make it a sort of "round gown". The sleeves are literally half widths of my fabric with no shaping. I gathered them to fit the armscye and a wrist band that buttons. I'm wearing it over bloomers, my corded petticoat, another basic petticoat and my 18th century pocket actually. I needed something to carry all my stuff in! :) For the neckerchief I just cut a piece of white cotton in an enlarged diamond shape and tied it around my neck. I didn't even hem it. Most of it is cut on the bias so it doesn't matter. The apron was super simple but I'm glad I used as much fabric as I did, I like how full it is! I also wore my cream boots (these work for so much!) and a straw hat that I cut slits in for some ribbon to hold it on my head.

Anyway, I'm glad to be done with that! It was a fun event, the kids seemed to have had a really good time and while they weren't authentic looking, it was still fun to see everyone in their "pioneer" garb! :)

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