Friday, January 22, 2016

An Organization of Ideas

Okay, so I mentioned some of my upcoming plans for 2016, and I thought I would organize the order I might make them in and what exactly each thing might be. My main goal is to make a dress from any other decade than

January - Procrastination: Check!

February - Tucks and Pleats

I am almost done with the mockup for the giant green plaid, so that will be finished in February. The skirt has inverted stacked box pleats.

March - Protection

I was thinking maybe several chemises, because they protect the dress from sweat. At this point I'll be finishing my Regency stays and I don't think that would work; a small project might be nice. I will also be making a Regency dress that I mentioned in an earlier post; hopefully that doesn't interfere with that. A corset is also another idea.

April - Gender Bender

Oh, oh oh! I just figured it out! I was staring at the Dreamstress' idea/description, and I remembered that drawers were at first shocking because they were a man's garment. Maybe a pair in the earlier form, the kind that were two seperate legs.

May - Holes

Honestly, anything with a button hole would work. I need to make a corset for a friend, and this could be a good opportunity what with the grommets in the back.

I actually also need a new fashion bonnet, and netting which is used quite a lot is about as holey as it gets.

June - Travel

Because I'm probably going to Costume College in July (the very next month), I may choose to be inspired by traveling to LA. I was planning on wearing my completed green plaid to the gala event, but it's going to be the middle of July and awfully hot I'm sure. A nice Regency dress would be waaaayyy cooler. A pretty cap or beaded hairnet for indoors would also be nice for that particular event if I don't have time to make an entire dress. Plus, duh, time travel!

July - Monochrome

I just bought the Bustle dress petticoat pattern from Truly Victorian; I don't have any intention of making it any time soon, but this might be the month to actually make it. The Natural form one isn't pictured, but this is the pattern.

August - Pattern

I'm confident I'll come up with something. Personally, I would love to eliminate plaids. When I think of pattern, I think of printed cloth, not a woven pattern. Sadly nothing comes to mind, but I love finding period prints at the local fabric store! Now that I think of it, our local reenacting group is in need of some loaner clothes. A generic size girls dress may be in order, with a yoked bodice or something of that sort.

September - Historicism

My favorite!!! And I would like to point out that that was my idea. Anyway, I think this may be a good time to get cracking on that bustle era dress. The big swag in the front and the pleated underskirt remind me of colonial style Robe a la Polonaise. The pattern that I'm buying actually has the Watteau back, which was like a throw-back Thursday of the Robe a la Francais. Sadly, when I actually start the bustle dress will most likely be dictated by when the class starts, and I have no idea when that will be. If that isn't going to work, then I have no problem making a Neo-classically inspired Regency dress if it hasn't already happened.

Below is the Robe a la Polonaise (dress with an overskirt looped up over a underskirt)

The pattern I plan on purchasing, although I was planning on using the fitted back on the right.

Robe a la Francais (Watteau back, or sack-back dress)

Neoclassically inspired Regency gown

October - Heroes

There are plenty of costumers I admire, although I would be shy to admit that I made anything inspired by someone else. In terms of historical heroes, I've really enjoyed reading about Angelina Grimke, but as far as costuming goes I think I would rather be inspired by a fictional hero! (Jane Eyre, anyone?)

November - Red

I love red! I still have a piece of red silk that might be enough for a Regency bonnet, unless I've used it by then. Actually I've tried to avoid red because I already have two dresses in dark red, but I couldn't help but think of making it into a bustle dress. I bought this pattern 2 months ago, just because I needed to get my order over $50 for free shipping. Whhheeeee! I'd much rather have two patterns than one pattern and pay for shipping. When November approaches I'll probably have a better idea of exactly what I want.

December - Special Occassion

I've been thinking of making a new Victorian ball dress; there is a ball every year in March, and I've learned that making the dress with no deadline (like I'm doing now) is just the best. I do have one in the aforementioned dark red, but it is so heavy it feels like I sewed a couple phone books into the hem. So I might make a new one and save it for a couple months.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

2015 Year in Review

My sewing this year has been super productive, and also pretty successful. Lots of learning experiences, but I'd also say there has been an all time low percentage of flunks. Go figure.

Here are some of the highlights and favorite projects:

White sheer: Seriously, I am in love with that dress. It's so comfortable and light, and the fit is just perfect. I still need a different corset cover. I've also spent a good amount of time wearing it, and it has proven to be the perfect summer wear. Still not crazy about the glare that comes off that thing, but oh well. Not really my problem, as I'm not the main person looking at it.

Between projects, I worked pretty hard at complicated mock ups and troubleshooting. Those went pretty well and took up a lot of time, although because they're just sheets sewn together there isn't really anything to show for it.

Penelope Lumley Dress: This dress turned out pretty good, although probably not one of my more interesting costumes.
This girls dress turned out very well, but it's been worn a lot this year and hasn't held it's color very well. The once bright blue little strip is pretty faded from multiple washings, but Camille can't seem to not get dirty in it.
My biggest accomplishment this year has been completing my first corset. And then wearing it out and making a better one.

I tried my hand at millinery this year. Not a favorite research topic, but interesting and rather necessary. It is also really time consuming and difficult; I have never had appreciation for people who are good at it until now. 

I've made enough undergarments to make me shudder; mundane things that take up way too much of my time. Getting them out of the way is nice, but the idea of starting a new time period and sewing an entire new wardrobe of boring white things is dreadful; maybe that is why they are called unmentionables.

Here are a list of the things I made for the Historical Sew Monthly challenges; some were interesting, some weren't.

#1: Foundations - I pushed myself to finish my first corset. It had been almost done for quite a while, but getting it out of the way was awesome. 

#2: Blue - this blue belt was probably the only flop of all of them; it fits, alright, but only over my undergarments. Not over the dress.

#3: Stashbusting - this chemise has been really handy, although I would like to try a real yoked chemise this year.

#4: War and Peace - my favorite completed project! This white sheer is really comfortable.

#5: Practicality - Slat sun bonnet; a little boring, but very practical and I like it alright.

#6: Out of Your Comfort Zone - my first attempt at cording turned out pretty good, I think. I still can't believe how quickly I finished this project, compared to a more fitted corset.

#7: Accessorize - this bonnet is really pretty, but I'm kind of only okay on wearing it. I didn't put enough research into it, and will hopefully rip it apart this year and make a more accurate one. This was my favorite fabric to work with, nothing can describe the color!

#8: Heirlooms and Heritage - by far the most lame thing I entered for a challenge, but definitely worn a lot!

#9: Brown - I know I'll get lots of use out of this, usually portraying a laundress, but I have yet to wear it.
#10: Sewing Secrets - I was so preoccupied that month, I didn't enter anything!

#11: Silver Screen - I love this little garment, it's really pretty.
#12: Redo - the most hard-worked on project, it fits into several past challenges.

Here are some plans for 2016! I am looking forward to challenging myself more and more. The most complicated project I hope to accomplish is a Natural form day dress. I wouldn't particularly have chosen this era, but I got one of Jennifer Rosbrugh's classes over at Historical Sewing for Christmas. Whenever the class runs, I'll use that to give me a push.

I also got the Regency corset class for Christmas; I don't really know when I'll get around to making the dress, but there will probably be a Regency ball in September. I may or may not get it done in time, I do have something else to wear just in case.

Another white dotted sheer dress is on my list of things to do relatively quickly (before May), but first a hoop skirt!

I've had the materials to re-make this Regency dress for some time, but Camille wanted to put it off once the Regency ball was canceled. She's growing pretty fast, so she wanted to wait until a little closer to the next event before I started it. I don't intend it to be accurate, all the materials are polyester, but it will be very pretty!

I've finally started that gigantic plaid! Yay! That'll be done sometime this month or the next. But....I just discovered that the plaid is printed, not woven. See that little swoop at the end of the selvedge? Argghh. The quality of the fabric alone isn't great, it has a number of unavoidable flaws. I don't think I will buy from this seller again. Despite the fabric problems, I'm still excited to have another project to work on. Coming up very soon...Dogleg closure tutorial!

At some point, I need to work a little more on a complete undergarment wardrobe for someone else, that has been held off way too long.

I've been trying to calculate how many hours everything is going to take, and I'm afraid I'm not going to get everything done this year that I would like. But at the same time, it feels like most of these things are a must. How do I decide?!?

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Historical Sew Monthly #1: Procrastination

Here is my latest garment; I really wanted a petticoat with a more decided backside. I'm pretty proud of how my balancing turned out.
And, we got a good camera for Christmas! This post isn't really worthy of more than one picture, but I can't help it. 
Photographer (i.e. Mom): Your chemise looks terrible! Can you try to adjust it?
Me: No no, you don't understand! Every costumer has terrible chemise under corset photos, and everyone apologizes for it!

It's really more of a faked shape, because my hoop is round. I have on a bum pad, the hoop skirt with the drawstring waist gathers moved almost all the way to the back, a plain petticoat that is round shaped and doesn't really work very well with this shape, and then a second petticoat balanced to round the whole thing out.

For anyone interested in the ratio formula for the full back, I moved 12'' from each side to the back so that the back has a total of 24'' more than the front.

What the item is: Petticoat

The Challenge: Procrastination

Materials: 5 yards cotton

Pattern: None

Year: 1863

Notions: Thread, hook and bar

How historically accurate is it? Who knows? With the double row of hand gathering, then re-hand gathering, it doesn't really get much better, except for the hook and bar. I really love that closure, even though I know it isn't accurate. 88%

Hours to complete: Can I measure in Downton Abbey episodes?

First worn: For pictures, other than that not yet.

Total cost: $18

Coming up: I may actually get that green plaid finally done, either for this challenge or the next. 

Penelope Lumley Costume

Here is the finished product of the costume party that was held way back in November. Sadly, there were not as many photos taken as everyone thought at the party, so I don't have pictures of anyone else.
Definitely feeling the part. As a teenaged private educator to children mostly under the age of 13 (piano teacher by trade), I feel the young Miss Penelope Lumley's struggles as she tries to teach 3 incorrigible children who were unfortunately and literally raised by wolves. Thankfully, I have yet to encounter any children raised by wildlife in the woods.
I had intended to make the bodice pointed, but I was rather preoccupied with a story and cut the bodice out round before I had even had a thought. Whoops. Then I had the idea to add a basque, as in the sketch here, but after the sleeves were cut out I didn't have enough fabric left. Drat! So, I continued on without. Double drat, of course the back wrinkles in pictures!
Somehow I got it in my head that the skirt and bodice wouldn't be attached, but held together with hooks and eyes, but once I tried it on for the last time the day before the party I realized the back came up a little higher than I would prefer. So I stitched them together, trying to keep the stitches in the "ditch" of the bodice binding. I'm happy that I did that, because I didn't have to sew on all those hooks and eyes! Actually I did sew on all the eyes, but ripped them off later.

There were several things I wanted to practice. Skin-tight bodice fit? Check. Boned darts? Check. Governess-like severity? Check. Sewing up until the hour of the party? Check. Actually, that last one wasn't supposed to be on the list. Good grief.

All in all, it turned out mostly the way I wanted, aside from distracted mistakes and procrastinating. The one thing that I didn't like in the end that I did not have any time to fix was that weird neckline thingy going on; I should have fixed that in mockup stage.

And, holding our own Nutsawoo; we found him in the Autumn decor section of Hobby Lobby. 
Here are some of the things that are correct:

The shape, fitting, and seamlines. By seamlines, I mean dropped armscye (the bit that comes down over my shoulder), the shoulder seam angled backwards, the curved back detail, the angled waist horizon, the darts). These things, in itself, makes up almost 70% of what makes any dress historically accurate and believable.

What isn't correct:

The fabric choice is the main one. Done in a nice wool, this whole dress could have been completely passable, even with the other techniques I chose to ignore. This is made from a cotton/poly mix, just for the sake of cheapness. Good thing, too, I have nowhere else to wear this. One weird fact about this brand of broadcloth: the grain is skewed. I ripped all the skirt panels (NOT a clean rip either), and as I was sewing all the panels together I realized they weren't even straight! Isn't that weird? Will not buy that brand again, I have since bought a different brand that ripped nicely.

The buttons are plastic, as is the boning, but I chose the less glossy black buttons that didn't scream "PLASTIC!" The buttonholes are machine sewn; during the Victorian era, the only thing the sewing machine could do was a plain straight stitch, so they would have been worked by hand.

Underneath the dress, I wore my corset, a plain gathered petticoat, and also the most horrendous bridal petticoat you could imagine. It smells weird. Anyhoo, combined with the better petticoat on top it lends a believable shape, and no matter how much I complain about wearing it, it has saved my neck in tight situations where there is no time to sew anyone proper petticoats.