Saturday, April 23, 2011

A disaster of magnificent proportion (or so much to sew, so little time...)

Okay, some time back at the end of the last event season, my dutiful husband thought to show his love and affection by washing our event clothes. Sweet, right? Until he switched loads, and then came upstairs to tell me, "Umm... so there was a little bit of a problem..."

He had basically washed everything that would fit into one load (thinking to economize on water/detergent/energy, I understand this since I am constantly reminding him to only run full loads on regular laundry to be a good environmental steward) and happened to put my brand new red wool riding habit, his brand new black wool sleeved waistcoat, my fine bleached linen apron, etc. all in the hot/cold setting (well, they were pretty dirty, he says.)

So, after a lovely cycle in the wash the red and black wool bled over everything, making my linen apron tie dye (not to mention the shifts, shirts, and underpetticoats in there!) and shrunk to high heaven, leaving us with very few items left unscathed.

I cried. I didn't mean to, but I couldn't help it. Apart from stockings and shoes I have made every single historical garment that we own and while I machine many seams, the hand sewing time from finishing alone made me weep. Now, I knew in November that I would need to replace each item by April 30th. However, I teach during the year and time is scarce.

April 30th is fast approaching, and I have been sewing like a madwoman, but I still feel like I'm so behind schedule. I've finished a serviceable apron, a false rump, an almost finished apron, one and a half shifts, half a quilted underpetticoat, and the channels on 2/3rds of my stays so far.

I have gotten cut and ready to sew: one man's shirt, one boy's shirt, three wool petticoats, and one girl's shift.

I have fabric washed and ironed for: one linen petticoat, one linen gown, one linen jacket, and two caps.

I have fabric bought and waiting for: one linen petticoat, one linen bed jacket, one shift, two pairs of boy's fall front breeches, one pair cream wool man's fall front breeches, one hunter green waistcoat, one chocolate brown man's frock coat, and Good Lord, please let me now be forgetting anything.

All to be done (we hope) by April 30th. This isn't all for me, mind you. I'm sewing for myself, my husband, my sister, and two friends and their two chidlren. I obviously won't be able to post pics until after next weekend, but I hope to update when I'm taking a break (such as now) from my forced slave labor. =)

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The White Period Dress at the Museum

So, Alix and I went to the museum Saturday for a lovely day of volunteering at the Mansion. Our morning was a little slow on tours, so when we had an empty tour slot we went outside to get a photo of the dress in use =)

It was very comfy to wear, and we really liked that we were representing two very different, but common, styles of the period (Alix in a shirtwaist and skirt, myself in a day gown). We had a lot of compliments from patrons on the clothing, which was cool. We also has some cool new toys to play with in the Mansion, which I think gave us a whole new level to add to the tour, since now there were things people could actually hold/touch.

After the tour day was over, we visited our good friends at Spring Valley Lodges on our way home to peek at a few treadle machines Jim had. Overall, a good day.

The White Period Dress on the side porch of the Mansion.
 It was a beautifully sunny morning!

Trying to look stern like a Victorian. Didn't work =/

You down with DPP?

The Double Period Project- oooh... should I?

So, I joined YWU/FR today (I think I'm addicted- I also joined ALFHAM earlier this week) and I happened across the Double Period Project. (See above link for description of contest.) I've been meaning to make a Regency kit for some time now, and there are a few events in the area that are 1812 events... so I'm wondering if this might not be the kick in the butt that I need to get some 1812 clothing in my wardrobe.

I haven't started looking at plates yet for inspiration, but I already can tell you that if I do this I'll be going for historical accuracy more so than "inspired by". Ah, how I wish I was able to costume all of the time.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Sources, Please?

Looking for sources for 18th c. (1760-70's primarily) inns/public houses. Have a few, but want some more to compare/contrast. Getting "the Inn" as a physical space ready and need to start digging deeper for the atmosphere. Any suggestions?

The White Period Dress

The Infamous "White Period Dress" Not quite finished, but almost!

I couldn't resist- in almost every haunted story there is mention of a woman in "white period dress". They never say which period (which irks my inner historical fashionista), but somehow that explains exactly what the woman is wearing. So, for this late 1890's ensemble, I couldn't resist calling it the "White Period Dress".

The Thimble and I volunteer at an outdoor museum about an hour away where we interpret a mansion built in the 1880's, but staged in the mid 1890's. Last year's outfit included a navy blue skirt, shirtwaist, and corsetlet. This year, I wanted something a little lighter and with less trim, but still pretty. Since I have the "week off" from my job (teacher) for spring break, I wanted to get some serious sewing done. I also had to grade massive amounts of essays and projects, but the fact that I can do that in my p.j.'s still gives me some extra time for other stuff.

So, to rid myself of the bulk essay blues, I acted on a whim and decided to make up this little number.


I already had the patterns in my box of goodness (TV297 and TV493), and the windowpane cotton was a long ago closeout purchase that was sitting around on the roll and was perfect for this project. All of the undergarments were from last year. Interlining is 5.3 oz linen. Trim was a poly blend (dies) from JoAnn's. I had to act fast and didn't have time to search for antique or comparables.


Cutting actually didn't take that long. We had the pattern pieces for the skirt already cut on our heavy duty brown pattern paper and the windowpane cotton was so thin ironing was a breeze. This was my second time on this skirt, and it went together in about two-three hours. No snags. Love this pattern. I did have to add an extra flounce to my petticoat to help support the windowpane. It didn't really have the body needed to hold itself up, so to speak. I am considering a regency gown with this material at a later date. I think it would lend itself very well to that period.

The windowpane after interlining
was cut away above bust.
The bodice was a new one for me, but again- went together super easily. The only part that got me was I decided to cut away some of the interlining to display the windowpane pattern better across the top of the bosom. This was a little difficult to do considering that I had to lace myself into my corset without assistance in order to determine where to cut away the interlining. In the end, with some pins, chalk, and a mirror, I ended up with an even and modest peek-a-boo effect. I have yet to attach my closures on the bodice and still need to do a few tweaks on the front darts (that pesky hourglass silhouette!) but everything else is finished.

Since I'm terrible at following directions and am not a huge fan of piping, I finished the bodice interior hem with turned twill tape instead of piping. It turned out great and gave me a nice, snug fit over the hips.

The Trimmings

Close up of the trim and
sheer fabric. Two rows of pintucks
were added after this picture.
I think the best part was this time I only had to apply 15 yards of trim for the whole kit, as compared to the last time I when I applied over 20yds of trim to the skirt alone! But the fabric was so delicate I didn't want to overburden it with yards of junk. I already had to compromise on the trim being a poly blend due to the unplanned nature of the thing as it was. I could not and would not add to that by going over the top with a poly-lace extravaganza that would rival a pop star in the 80's (1980's, that is). I kept it simple and let the clean lines and flowing fabric speak for themselves. Plus, this way if I can find something natural and appropriate later on I can replace the trim with as little fuss as possible.

I utilized the same trim treatment on the sleeves, hem of skirt, collar, and cutaway neckline. I added two rows of pintucks above the bottom trim treatment for two reasons:

Collar and Cutaway Trim
          1. It looked a little like it needed something else, but nothing crazy. Pintucks are a great way to add some texture without being too much.
          2. Pintucks also add some structural support to the hemline by making it slightly stiffer and help the skirts to hold their shape.

The pintucks worked wonders. I don't have the pictures uploaded yet, but the skirt holds its shape so much better now.

End Result

Back View prior to
bodice alteration
I'm not going to lie, the turn of the century is not my favorite time period. The Belle Epoch and Edwardian fashions, to me, are not the most flattering for my figure (fairly curvy) and out of the 19th century I would have to say that I am madly in love with both bustle periods.... however... 

I think I love it! I cannot believe I'm saying this, but it makes me feel like a princess. It's so light and airy. The fabric is so fine and soft and when I walk I can feel it floating behind me like a cloud. The hubby saw it and said that it reminds him of wedding dress (common response actually- I think because it's all white.) But it does make you feel pretty. 

 And the best part: it has only taken two days of working into the wee hours (so far) to construct. I should have the finishing touches on by tomorrow and it will be ready for volunteering on Saturday, and should make for a much cooler summer season.
Side View- ignore the
sewing mess and iron
cord hanging off the
ironing table- lol.

The down side? As Eva (dog #3) has so evidently made clear today- it's white. I've had to wipe off two muddy nose spots so far, which luckily did not stain. 

Note to self:  Investigate wholesale supply of tide pens...