Tuesday, July 18, 2017

The Countess of Provence Gown

In the last couple months, I've had a chance to finish up some things that have been languishing on the "almost finished" pile. When I have no deadline, I have a terrible habit of getting 99% of the way through a project... and then stopping. I have no idea why! And there a garment will sit, and sit, and sit.

On the bright side, this means that when I finally get around to resuming, the project is almost done!

My most recent ensemble to be completed is a similar gown to the one worn by Marie Josephine of Savoy, Countess of Provence, in the following portrait. I love the gown. I love pretty much anything white. And that cap, pouf, whatever it is... is just wild!

Painting by Alexander Kucharsky, circa 1790.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

A Turn of the Century Foundation Skirt

After going through the evening gown I shared in my last post. I started on a foundation skirt for my own evening gown. A foundation skirt is basically a very engineered petticoat that goes under a gown, once skirts stop routinely being lined, around the turn of the 20th century.

To construct this skirt, I gathered my information from a few different places, since I have never actually seen one in person. Authentic Victorian Dressmaking Techniques, edited by Kristina Harris, is indispensable. It's a copy of Butterick's 1905 manual, Dressmaking, Up to Date. If you don't already have one, get a copy! It explains pretty much everything I did to make this skirt, as well as everything else you might ever need to know about turn of the century sewing. I'll make a note on what pages the info came from throughout the post.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Inside a Turn of the Century Evening Gown, Part 2: The Skirt

Yesterday I shared pictures of the bodice. While the inside of the bodice is fairly messy and pieced, the skirt of this gown is fantastic! It is so heavy and engineered!

I'm always really excited to get to study a skirt, since they seem to rarely survive, while bodices, which don't employ yards and yards of fabric just waiting to be remade, are so much more common.

The shape is fairly simple. Here is is laid flat. The CB is to the right, CF on the left. 

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Inside a Turn of the Century Evening Gown, Part 1: The Bodice

It's been a while since I've shared the insides of one of my collection. I pulled this gown out of the tissue to study the insides for a new evening gown I have started. This dress looks like it could be home-made, but if it was, it was made by someone who knew what they were doing. I suppose it could have been made by a private dressmaker, but I very much doubt it came from any kind of fashion house or department store. There are no labels and the inside is kind of a mess. Of course, the messy insides are my favorite! So, on to the masses of pictures!

I'll start with the bodice today. The skirt will follow, since there are just too many pictures for one post!


Monday, June 5, 2017

The Remade Chintz Gown

This dress started life back in 2012. I wore it for a 4th of July Parade. It was fun, but it was also all kinds of wrong. Machine sewn, modern pattern, petticoat too short, weird cotton lining, zig zag stitching, panniers.... Yikes. I mean, the list went on. I was never, ever going to wear that dress again.

But, the fabric was worth saving. A lovely, printed cotton chintz.

In 2014 I decided to rip it all apart and reuse the material. I'm embarrassed to say it took three years to get around to finishing it. 

So, apart came every seam, and eventually it became a dress again. A better dress. I reassembled the pieces, reshaping and refitting where necessary and hand stitching them back together as one would construct a gown using 18th century methods. 

I also remade the petticoat. Luckily, I still had fabric left over and was able to recut the whole thing. I saved the old petticoat to use for something else someday. Long sleeves maybe...


So bottom line, it's not a new concept, but always buy the best fabric you can. Even if you're skills and knowledge aren't up to it at the time, there is always the future!

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

A Rose Gold 30's Evening Gown

Over Derby Weekend, we had tickets to one of the black tie galas. I am such a sucker for an opportunity to dress up in black tie!

I've been wanting a satin 1930's evening gown for ages, so I took this opportunity to make one! And the color fit perfectly for the June's Historical Sew Monthly challenge: metallics.

I used Vintage Pattern Lending Library's #T6573. Great dress. Very forgiving size-wise as it's such a loose style. I did have to add about an inch to the hem, and probably could have added a bit more. I am only 5'4", so definitely check the length if you use this pattern! I opted out of adding the fabric flowers at the front, since this wasn't actually a costume event, and wanted to keep everything simple. I really wanted to make an evening jacket for it, but just ran out of time. Next time!

Unfortunately, I didn't get any pictures of the gown until very late in the evening, so it's a bit wrinkly. Not to mention, my hair had kind of had it with the humidity. On the other hand, I was able to get a couple pictures in the lobby with no people around, so there is always a silver lining :)

So, the facts:

The Challenge: June, Metallics

Material: Silk crepe back satin

Pattern: Vintage Pattern Lending Library's #T6573

Year: Late 1930's

Notions: Thread, snaps, hook and eye

How historically accurate is it? I want to say totally, though I haven't yet personally seen a 30's dress with machine rolled hems. Though, I do have some very old rolled hem feet and it suggests it in my 1940's sewing book. Just throwing that out there.

Hours to complete: Maybe a week of sewing, here and there. I let the dress hang a couple days before hemming it.

First worn: Last weekend

Total cost: A few yards of silk crepe back satin


Construction of the dress went easily for the most part, but it got a little fiddly attaching the top of the train to the waist of the dress. The pattern directions got a little hazy there, and I'm sure I just interpreted them wrong. But because of the nature of the silk, I couldn't play around with it too much, so I picked a method and went with it.

I chose to hem the dress mostly with a narrow hem foot, since it suggested this in my 1940's Ruth Wyeth Spears sewing book. Very easy! I bound the neckline and arm holes with bias binding. I love the top stitching and cut of the bodice. It's kind of sporty.

The inside seams were pinked, since apparently over casting would have been a "waste of time." I love this:

The dress closes with at the side. As suggested in the sewing book, I put a hook and eye at the waist, where there would be the most stress. The rest of the placket is fastened with snaps.

Under the dress, I wore a low backed slip, made from Vintage Pattern Lending Library's 1930 Slip Pattern. I omitted the vertical darts (time constraints) and the side closure. The side closure was unnecessary since the slip had ample room to be put on over the head because of the low back. I also made a matching pair of tap pants from similar colored silk charmeuse. I used Mrs Depew's 1930's Tap Pants Pattern again. I used the fabric satin side in on the pants (which is so nice against the skin!), but satin side out for the slip, so the dress fabric would slide over it better.

I would have loved to wear a girdle with it, which would have really smoothed out the tummy area (I really need to lay off the snacks...), but since it wasn't actually a 1930's event, and I didn't have a lot of time, I said eh. Of course, if it was properly fit, I guess it wouldn't have really shown... Just another thing to add to that endless to-do list!

Good night!

Friday, May 12, 2017

Well, it started as a square...

For April's Historical Sew Monthly's challenge (circles, squares and rectangles), I decided a finishing up a fichu was a good (and easy) idea. And it went toward finishing with one of my current outfits. I like using the challenges as inspiration to get things finished that I have left lying around.

It all started easily enough as a nice square, but because of the body and crispness of the silk gauze,  when it was doubled and put around my neck, it was like huuuuuuuge. Way too much of a good thing. So, I cut it in half, and then kept trying on and trimming until it looked ok. It ended up resembling one of the shaped-neckline kerchiefs, like this one, from the Manchester Art Gallery.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

A Bow Tie and Accessories for The Derby

I bought this horse print cotton a while ago with no real intention for it. When I started packing for the Derby I had a lightbulb moment!

It started with the bow tie, and that was so easy I went onto the pocket square and eventually did up some cufflinks for good measure. A lot of matchy matchy for everyday wear, but for the Derby, it was tame!

Like the ladies with their hats, gents at the Derby go all out! Bright colors and horsey prints were everywhere. And I have never seen so much seersucker! It was a lot of fun to see all the fun menswear. I can't imagine many of the outfits could be worn anywhere else!

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Vogue 7464 Goes to Kentucky

When I'm not sewing, my other passion is horses. 

This year we were lucky enough to attend the Kentucky Derby, which has been on my list since, well, forever. The tickets we got were actually for two days, the Oaks day and the Derby day. I bought a hat for the Derby (I found a totally rad one and couldn't pass it up), but for the Oaks day I decided to make my hat.

Pink is the color of the day for the Oaks; it's the Race for the Lilies. So, pink it was!

Monday, March 20, 2017

So, this is happening...

It may take years, but hey, gotta start sometime! It's one of my favorite gowns and I thought, hey, why the hell not?!

Metropolitan Museum of Art
1991.204a, b

Ah, sigh. I can't wait!

Sunday, March 19, 2017

1930's Undies

To go under my beach pyjamas, I needed some era appropriate undies. I chose white crepe de chine, so they would look better under the very obvious facings of the white linen pants. Crepe de chine also has the advantage of sewing easily and it washes well, too. 

These are made up from Mrs. Depew #2023. I am really liking these print at home patterns. So convenient! I like them even more now that I got one of those guillotine paper cutters. Oh my, the cutting of the paper edges goes SO fast now! Highly recommended!

These were done with a mix of machine and hand sewing, so they went together quite fast. The hand sewing was really only needed for the fiddly bits, like the button holes and gusset.

The waistband was faced with self-bias and the hem was just turned up and stitched. I can see these being a lot of fun to make up with a lace hem or embroidery. 

So, after being in the 20's and 30's so many months in a row, I just dove into the giant UFO pile and lined up a selection of things to finish up. Expect to see some 1780's and 1860's coming soon! Back to the really fun stuff!

Have a happy Sunday, all!

Sunday, March 12, 2017

More Beach Pyjamas!

Oh, these are so fun! 

My second set of lounging pyjamas, in polkadot silk crepe de chine, made from Wearing History's Lounging at the Lido pattern

Friday, March 10, 2017

Beach Pyjamas for HSM 3: The Great Outdoors!

For ages I've been in love with beach pyjamas. They have such a great look! I especially love the styles from the 1930's. I've been on a bit of a thirties kick recently...

Well, I took a recent trip to the beach as an excuse to make some. I was only going to make one, but got a little carried away and made two! Yay! One from earlier in the decade and another pyjama outfit from the later 30's. 

Oh, and then I threw in a 1920's negligee (which just looks a heck of a lot like a modern beach coverup) for good measure. It was a very productive couple of weeks! 

Today, I will start with my favorite, the later 30's set.

Monday, February 27, 2017

A 1930's Wool Blanket Coat for HSM 2: Re-make, Re-use, Re-fashion

Oh, I just love this coat! I made it at the beginning of the month and I've already taken it on two trips to quite cold places and have used it again and again at home. 

The coat is made out of a Woolrich blanket and Wearing History's 1930's Ahwahnee Blanket Coat pattern. The blanket was a bit smaller than the blanket size the pattern calls for, so I had to accommodate by not lining the hood. By choice, I went for more of a sweater than a proper coat, with lining and buttons, etc. Very cozy and warm!

Friday, February 24, 2017

A 1920's Coat

Finally, a quick one about the last coat I made. I meant to post this weeks ago, but then got swept up making some 1930's outfits. More to come on that soon, too! 

This was a great coat. Very warm, nice style. The pattern was from the Vintage Pattern Lending Library. Pattern #1078, the 1920's Ladies' Coat. Great Pattern. It went together very well. 

I made up the coat in black Camel, lined in black silk charmeuse. The coat is partially interlined, as per the pattern's directions, with cotton muslin. 

I kept to the pattern, mostly. I added length at the hem to make a long, warm, ankle-covering, winter coat. I also added in-seam pockets at the hips and a nice big pocket in the lining. I also added a loop at the neckline to hang up the coat.

The pattern had some great details, like the interesting way the sleeves were set in, and the slight gathering on the collar. I chose to make the coat collar to match the coat, so it could be an everyday style. For the party, I added a black fox collar that pins on, to dress the coat up. 

I must say, it wasn't the neatest welt pocket I have ever constructed, but I was on such a deadline! I made the coat in about two days! The little button to the left of the pocket is reinforcing the button on the outside of the coat, so it wouldn't pull through the fabric. It's a fairly heavy coat. And sorry about the fur. I even lint rolled it before I took pictures. This thing is a lint magnet! 

Saturday, January 28, 2017

A 1920's Evening Gown

I had a lot of fun planning my outfit for the Gatsby Ball. It was a completely new decade for me, and was very interesting to research. Considering last year I spent so much time in the 1910's, it was interesting to see the progression of fashion a decade later.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

HSM #1: 1920's Undies

The Challenge: Firsts and Lasts

Material: Silk crepe de chine, silk satin, silk charmeuse, cotton sateen, elastic and lace.

Pattern: Mrs. Depew #2030 for the Bandeau, Truly Victorian 1913 Corset (heavily modified) for the girdle, and self drafted patterns for the envelope chemise and slip.

Year: 1925-29

Notions: Silk and cotton threads, corset busk, hooks and eyes, buttons

How historically accurate is it? Spot on, to the best of my knowledge.

Hours to complete: A couple weeks.

First worn: Dardanella's Gatsby Ball

Total cost: I'm not sure. Most of the fabric was from my stash. Things I bought specifically for the project were some suspender grips and very small buttons for the envelope chemise's tab.


I suppose I should start from the inside out. 

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

The Gatsby Ball

This past weekend I had the good fortune to be able to attend Dardanella's Gatsby Inaugural Ball in Washington DC. But never fear, dear readers, there was nothing political about it! 

Just a lovely, non-partisan, 1920's themed ball held in the beautiful National Portrait Gallery. There was live music, dancing, cocktails and even the chance to tour the museum and see portraits of Presidents past.