Sunday, December 28, 2008

18th C. Fashion blog review - Ann Lauren

I discovered this fabulous blog post by Ann Lauren about 18th Century Fashion. It is quite extensive and covers a good deal.

So if you're looking for just what they wore (including undergarments, men's and women's clothing, outerwear, hats, jewelry and accessories) this is a good post to read.

Stick with Cloak & Corset and we'll show you how to sew these period items.


Monday, December 22, 2008

Men's Wear, huh?

I see many of you will be making men's wear next year (as voted on in the current poll).

What particular garments are you planning on sewing?
  • Breeches, pants, etc.?

  • Waistcoat, vest?

  • Frock coat, tail coat, morning coat, banyan, jacket, cape, etc.?

Please post a comment with your plans!

Ikea Sheets for 1780s

Here's a quick picture of that king sheet set I mentioned in my last post. I love the delicate flowers and with a nice linen underlining it will make a sweet caraco (or gown - haven't decided which) and petticoat (skirt in 18th C. terms).

Friday, December 19, 2008

(18th C.) Cotton Girl!

So today I ran into Beverly's for some ring tape for my mini-Roman shade. (Thanks to Twila and her tutorial for reminding me of that time saver instead of sewing 20 rings to the drape by hand.)

Well, I had to walk past the wonderful quilting cotton fabrics. I'm such a Cotton Girl! Always have been too. Well, it makes me want to sew a day dress again. Now, I have no idea what time period or design but just that I want to make a cotton dress.

After the first of the year the major fabric stores will start putting out tons of spring fabrics. It's the best time! I get so inspired by spring fabrics and colors.

Perhaps I just need to dig out that lovely white floral fabric (actually a sheet set from Ikea (I know - I'll look like I purchased my cloth from the same dry goods merchant as so many others.) and get started on a 1780s gown and petticoat like this 1780s robe 'a l'anglaise from the Kyoto Costume Institute.

Or maybe a robe and petticoat like this:

I have so much fabric in the king size sheets I purchased so I can get a full costume or two out of them. Then again, one out of this fabric, although cute, is enough. Besides, one gets bored sewing on the same fabric for too long!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

eBook progress

The 2nd edition of the Modern Sewing Techniques eBook is nearly ready for publication in just a couple of weeks.

Lately I've written 4 new chapters, 3 new accessory patterns with sewing instructions, 2 new and updated Free bonus chapters and added TONS of new photos. Whew...

(Did I forget the partridge and pear tree? No! We will have a lovely Free gift to all our members next week!)

Happy Sewing!

Monday, December 15, 2008

New Live Journal blog

Hi all!
For those of you following The Historical Sewing Blog - Thanks!

Just a quick note to say that I've opened a Live Journal account for those who read and write over there. If you do, please friend CloakAndCorset!

I will only occasionally post on LJ while The Historical Sewing Blog - where you are right now - will continue to remain the primary place for all our sewing projects and news.

We welcome your visits and comments on the happenings at Cloak & Corset.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

What's On The Cutting Table - old projects/repairs

*I have a small window right next to my front door, so yesterday I decided to finally pull out my fabric and cut out a small (10") wide soft shade. With a quick trip to Home Depot for the wood mounting and hardware, it'll be up by the end of the week.

*I have so many repairs to do! Several of my pieces got sightly ripped at the Moorpark event in early November. Arghhh. A necessary evil.

1. Drawers - lower facing point to reinforce

2. Petticoat - I'm lazy and have never sewn on a proper hook/bar so I've been using a safety pin. Well, this time I stepped on the hem and it ripped a nice square chunk out of the waistband. So another repair/reinforcement. Maybe I'll get a hook on this time.

3. Black widow's dress - the top of the seam at the skirt opening came out a bit - this with a 9" opening! So have to reinforce.

4. Hook and bar on my black linen petticoat

5. Belt loop that came off on a modern Gap skirt.

6. Modern capri denim pants that some how got a vertical tear near the zipper placket. Wonder if I accidentally snagged it with my seam ripper....

And then it's on to finishing my 1860s blue silk bonnet and 90" hoop for the widow's weeds. (I'm using a modified version of View A from the Laughing Moon Hoops and Bustles pattern.)

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Ohhh - a pink dress

Like I need another pink bustle dress! Well, honestly, my recent 1876 gown was mostly white with a little pink. I don't have a PINK dress at all.

As I was searching for photos to insert into the updated Glossary (a bonus with the eBook) I found this lovely fashion plate from Godey's Lady's Book February 1876.

And wouldn't you know it - I already have 7 yards of 60" wide silk taffeta the exact same color!

However I'd probably have to order a couple more yards as 7 would be a stretch to get that entire train poofed.

But I can't think about that now.
I'll think about that tomorrow after the 2nd edition of the eBook is released and I've made new 18th C stays and about four 18th C outfits I already have fabric and designs for.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Insane Project - 1956 Day Dress

Last weekend the LA Conservancy held their 3rd Annual Holiday Movie Screening. This year they showed White Christmas - one of my favorite movies. (really!) I grew up watching this film and even now I put it on a good 4 or 5 times a year - July included.

Well, because of my friend Becky, I decided I HAD to drive down to see this movie on the big screen. That meant a new period appropriate dress.

The film came out in 1954 and was set contemporary. So I found this lovely Vintage Vogue pattern #Vogue 1044. I had sewn a Vintage Vogue pattern before (a 1940 pattern) so knew of the challenge. The first pattern ran small so I proceeded with caution.

After cutting out the pattern, I refocused my thoughts on modern clothes sewing and altered the pattern I do when I make my own contemporary clothes. I dropped the apex and sliced the bodice open for a larger bust cup, reduced the back bodice width, and shortened the skirt (considerably).

The skirt reminded me of 19th C. skirts in that it had 4 full panels. The 60" wide crepe was open flat to cut so I had to dig out my cutting board for the floor as my cutting table is only 28" wide. Here are two panels being cut out on my sewing room floor.

I sew in assembly-line fashion. Here are the bodice darts and tucks, front placket and belt sewn and ready for ironing.

The raglan sleeve yoke neckline was finished with a yoke facing. Here it is pinned. I made sure to follow proper sewing seam directions to not distort the wide neckline.

I even made a belt for this dress. Once I found my loop turner I was in business.

And to top it off, I purchased a vintage hat, tore off the nasty cloth daisys and recovered it with a nice gray wool and wool flower.

And the finished dress:

At the theater:

And me in my new 1950s hat:

I love the hat so I will probably wear it to work once in a while.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Thanksgiving Trip

My husband and I had a chance to travel to my small hometown in northwest New Mexico this holiday weekend.

We drove through snow and slush in northern Arizona, experienced cold, howling winds, got a small bit of shopping done (Yea! for a large cutting mat at 50% off!), walked through the local musuem, enjoyed yummy cherry shakes from Blake's Lota-Burger and generally had a grand time.

I was so grateful of the time for this vacation as I haven't been "home" for a holiday in three years.

In the museum I found school photos of my grandfather and great aunt. Fabulous! It's kinda cool when you have such family history and connections with a community. I found out that my great-grandfather was mayor in 1946-48! I had no idea.

As was mentioned in the November eZine article, photos are a great primary source to study fashions and hairstyles from the past. The above photographs are such snapshots in time.

I hope all who celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday had a good day. We all have many things to be thankful for.


Sunday, November 23, 2008

Jane Austen Festivals

I always crash/take time off from my sewing room whenever I finish a big project. Well, I recently finished two (the 1830s green silk Wives & Daughters Picnic dress and my new 1862 Widow's dress).

But now that it's been a couple weeks from the Moorpark event, my mind has been going again on projects I'd like to do. Despite my love of 1870s bustle fashions, I have more Regency costumes in my closet.

So in updating the Resources page with numerous online merchants and research sites, I ran across this blog on a Jane Austen Festival - in Australia. For those of you down there, if you attend next April - PLEASE send updates and pictures!

I would so love to attend myself. However, I think my first large scale Jane Austen Festival will be in Bath, UK.

...Then again, my brain has been tossing around a few ideas to implement on this side of the world in California.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Widow's Weeds - Bonnet & Veil

I was just so pleased with the bonnet project! My friend Bridget led me to Just Two Tailors for straw forms and told me to spray paint the form black before trimming out.

I love the shape of their high brim bonnet and how it sits around my small head (as opposed to the styrofoam head).

However, after painting, my sewing needle and then later hat pin would flake off the paint. When all the sewing was finished I had to go back and touch up those parts of natural straw that were showing through. Perhaps I should have used a primer first.

I lined the inside with chiffon (really important so your hair doesn't get caught in the straw) and added the silk curtain. Then I made up two rows of folded silk taffeta that was 1/2" pleated and tacked along the inside edge of the brim. I might go back and add a ribbon or silk rose/flower to the center inside brim when I decide to "progress" into 2nd mourning.

The embroidered veil was also a recent find on eBay (gotta love that site). In October there were quite a few black veils up for auction. I snagged this narrow one. You should have seen the rinse water in the sink! Yuck. But at least it cleaned up well and most of the smell is gone. I used a drop of Woolite to wash it.

Soon I headed to Acme Notions and ordered their 5" black ball hat pins. While there, I found 3" pins that worked perfectly in attaching the veil to the bonnet.

I do believe the solid black bonnet and veil stamp this as a deep mourning widow's costume. I will definitely be wearing it again at future events.

Widow's Weeds - The Undersleeves

Because I wanted to introduce Mrs Minton as a new (3 mo. old) widow, I wanted the correct first-year mourning black undersleeves.

I used the dress coat sleeve pattern and made adjustments as given in the Undersleeve mini-report to create appropriate undersleeves.

The upper portion and narrow cuff is black sateen (again, from my stash) with silk chiffon for the lower part. Can I just say how I hate sewing with silk chiffon?! Probably one reason I'm known as the Cotton Girl as cottons stay put - silk chiffon likes to go explore every centimeter of my table and machine.

For the Moorpark event I was lazy and just safety pinned them to the bodice. I will go back and add tie ribbons.

I like undersleeves as 1) they are ever so appropriate for this era and 2) they just look fabulous rolled up and over with the dress sleeves when you are working and washing dishes.

Widow's Weeds - The Dress

The day after I thought up my new widow character I got busy searching for fabrics and accessories and studying as many CDVs and existing mourning wear I could find in a short amount of time. It was a very quick two weeks to get everything designed, lined up, ordered, purchased, shipped and collected. Many thanks go to my friend Bridget for her fabulous links to online vendors.

My new character, Mrs Minton, is of the lower working class (owns a small apple farm), so I was definitely not making the dress in silk. To keep cool in the hot California weather, I decided on a sheer dress fabric with a black cut-down bodice lining and petticoat in linen so the whole dress would pull very black.

After the black sheer striped fabric I ordered from Kay Gnagey failed to appear in her store, she quickly refunded my order where I took the funds over to Beverly's Fabrics and bought the last 8 yards of black striped sheer. It was just enough for I put four panels into the skirt.

The petticoat linen was ordered from, took 10 days to arrive, then showed up as a charcoal gray black not black black. I have an embroidered black linen dress in my closet I made a few years ago that is black black. That's what I expected. I was so disappointed.

So back to Beverly's for 1 yard solid black cotton for the bodice lining. I resolved myself to use the linen for the petticoat as my character has been in mourning before (for children) and the linen has "faded" over time.

For the design, because I was using cotton and making this dress quickly, I pulled out my well-fitted pattern used for my green sheer dress. But instead of gathered sleeves, I used the coat sleeve from Simplicity 4551 . I took my fitted lining and cut down the neckline a bit more mimicking the CDVs I found.

Both of the above photos are of mourning wear - black collars indicate this. Both dresses are of sheer fabric with a cut-down lining you can see.

My four-paneled skirt was fully cartridge pleated to twill tape that was then tacked inside the bodice waistband. The 5" deep hem is finished with 1/2" bias tape to help with wear.

I made a plain belt in silk taffeta and made a buckle from a metal finding found on eBay. Belts were SO popular in the 1860s and you don't see too many of them at events. I love the belt.

As seen in many period photographs, I found a bit of 3" flat lace in my stash and darted it up to fit the neckline of the finished dress. I finished it with bias tape and tacked it inside the bodice. My brooch was another lucky find on eBay. It looks like jet but is really plastic, possibly from the mid-20th Century.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Widow Project - Introducing Mrs Minton

On the way home from the Wives & Daughters Picnic in September, the Gemini in me decided to create a new character for Civil War events. I'm normally Mrs Rosbrugh from Maryland who's from a well-to-do upper middle class family with her husband off to fight for the North.

Lily, who manages members with our group, wants to see us expand into more class portrayals with a distinct separation of those with and without money. As we develop our first person impressions, the clothes we wear, how we talk and interact, and even personal possessions reflect those characters who would have lived in the early 1860s.

So as a complete change from the monied Mrs Rosbrugh, I created Mrs Minton - a woman who's recently had her oldest son run off to find his father in the military, her youngest daughter die, then hearing word that her husband died a few days after a bloody battle. She is Southern, being born and raised near the town in North Carolina.

Mrs Minton owns but a small apple orchard just outside of town and Oak Street. Without help to keep her field and any income, she approaches Mrs Cressman at the Johnson Oak Inn to become a parlor maid, working for food and possibly a bit of money.

I wanted to really make a contrast between my two characters. Mrs Minton debuted last Sunday at the Moorpark Reenactment. It will take another appearance or two for the rest of the town to get to know her and to become familiar with my new impression as we develop new scenarios and interactions.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Pictures from Sara's Birthday Vegas Trip

Relaxing in the Jacuzzi at South Point (technically on the Strip but about 2-3 miles South of it) where we stayed for our first night.
The accommodations were very nice and new, but the customer service kind of stunk.
If you are there at a meal time, their Buffet was amazing (and so was their pool and jacuzzi)!

The next two nights, we lived it up at the MGM Grand - the Lion Habitat was so cool.

This moving and talking tree was inside the lobby of the Bellagio as part of their Fall decorations. The decorations were so beautiful - definitely a must see.

My very special dinner and "birthday cake" (Bananas Foster) at the Rain Forest Cafe.

Me and my hunny after the Cirque du Soleil show Mystere.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Moorpark Encampment

Thanks to all who came by Oak Street to say hi. Quite a number of you visited!

Saturday was fabulous weather that brought bright sunshine, constant battle maneuvers, an opportunity for a REAL tintype photograph (with my husband's unit the 2nd Vermont Volunteers), a blazing fire sunset, lively dancing and terrific conversation.

Sunday morning blew in with a vengeance with strong, cold gusts threatening to make our flys into sails. We could have floated to Death Valley if we had wanted to! And the dirt that came with it - yikes! I'm still finding black dirt in my skin crevices.

Apparently our camp on the main pedestrian road became the wind blocker to the entire encampment. Walk 200 yards and you were in the warm sun with only the slightest breeze.

Here is a video taken by Jessi Selleh for the Ventura County Star.

Much of the video shows our Oak Street and activities. You can hear the wind whistling in the background.

If you catch me dressed in all black, stay tuned for a post of my new secret project that I debuted on Sunday of the event.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Moorpark Reenactment this weekend

Hi all!

Sorry for the late post, but I wanted to let those of you in the So. California area that the largest Civil War reenactment in California is this weekend (Nov. 8 and 9) in Moorpark (Ventura Co.).

My civilian group, Historical Citizens Assoc., will be there with a full set up. Our members portray residents and business workers on Oak Street (in the walnut grove to be specific).

If you are in the area, or just want a day trip to the 1860s, please come out. And if you do, please come find me around the Johnson Oak Inn. I would love to meet you!

aka Mrs. Rosbrugh or Elizabeth while at camp