Sunday, March 23, 2008

The New Flat Lining Report

I'm so excited about my new Feature Report - Flat Lining: Your Secret Component - coming out in 8 days! I've just finished adding more photos to the Corset and Skirt sections that I'm sure you'll find very helpful.
I hope you all get a copy as this will really advance you in those first stages of your historical sewing projects. Flat lining, and doing it correctly, is the foundation of your garment.

And keep visiting the Historical Sewing Blog as I'm busy on all my undergarments for my current project - the Cloak & Corset logo, an 1876 Evening Gown from Godey's Lady's Book. I will be making more posts on the progress. (Meanwhile, the facings are in the drawers, the chemise is nearly finished and the corset is flat lined.)

Oh, and be sure to leave your comments on what you would like to hear from me and The Cloak and Corset.

Have a great week!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Lost In Austen - Book Review

For a Christmas present this past year, I received a book from an old friend Lost in Austen: Create Your Own Jane Austen Adventure by Emma Campbell Webster. She knew how much I love Jane Austen and thought I might get a kick out of this.

It really is a choose-your-own adventure and you get to play none other than Elizabeth Bennet. The storyline follows the main plot of Pride and Prejudice, but through decisions that you can make, you may interact with the some characters of other Austen novels, including Captain Wentworth, Catherine Morland, Mr. Martin, Mrs. Smith, Mr. Elton, Mr. Tilney, Willoughby, Mr. Churchill, Fanny Price, Miss Bates, and Mr. Benwick (for fun, leave a comment to this post and name which Jane Austen novel each of these characters is from – I’ll post the answers a little later!).

You keep track of different aspects of what a lady during that time was valued for, accomplishments, fortune, confidence, intelligence, connections, and failings. Throughout the book and depending on what “path” you choose, you can either add to your score or deduct from it. At some junctures in the story, where you go next depends on your score in a particular area.

Overall, the book was fun and enjoyable. I started out keeping track of the above-mentioned items but them gave up ¼ of the way through as it took too long for me to keep stopping and writing things down. Instead, I just read through the book. When it came time for me to make a decision about what to do next, I thought about which one I would choose and then read all the different scenarios to see where each one would lead. Some progressed the story, while others led to The End.

If you make all your decisions based on what happens next in Pride and Prejudice, you can probably guess how the book will end. But, if you explore other avenues, some twists and turns will keep the story interesting and different from the original.

I would recommend this as a quick, mindless read that’s a good diversion.

If you’ve read this book, please leave your comments below and if you would like to play the trivia game mentioned above please comment as well.

Honoring Darryl Pearce

The Southern California Civil War reenacting community suddenly lost a loyal soul last month, Darryl Pearce of Camarillo who was with the 2nd Vermont Volunteers, Co. E. He was much fun to have around at events, always cracking humorous (and groaner) jokes. Darryl's wit, knowledge and dedication will be greatly missed.

Darryl, along with my husband, were the Corporals with the 2nd Vermont. Darryl handled a lot of the training and educating of the new recruits. He left a large hole in the group.

As a way to remember Cpl. Pearce, I have been asked to make black arm bands for the 2nd Vermont Boys in Blue. His fellow reenactors will proudly tie them on and wear them for the remainder of Civil War events in 2008.

I am happy to call Darryl my friend and feel honored to participate in his remembrance. Our last scenario together at Fort Knott's will always be remembered. (He played a Drunk and Thief much to everyone's amusement.)

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Chemise and Drawers Patterns

For my current project of the 1876 Evening Gown, I am starting the ensemble properly with the undergarments. I need a new Victorian corset anyways, and one always likes new frillies.

Whenever you start a new project, you must do an inventory on your undergarments and make (or purchase) those first before you start on the main garment. Every era is based on the proper silhouette and that MUST be done to have the costume be successful.

So for my chemise, I downloaded the free instructions off of Elizabeth Stewart Clark's website. I met Liz at last year's Costume College and she has done great research on the 1840s - 60s, especially with children's clothing. After I drafted it from my measurements the sleeve shape looked awfully weird and the underarm seam was not like her sketch. I've decided to go back to my other choice of the Truly Victorian chemise pattern. I've made a couple from Heather's pattern, and it is very basic and easy to sew. Although I may draft my own chemise pattern and release it for sale some day.

As for drawers, I love the Truly Victorian one, but with alterations (including shortening the crotch length). I've made a pair from the free instructions on Liz's site. Although, I made it front opening and would definitely change it to a back opening as I feel that design is more comfortable. So this weekend I will draft out the drawers again with the back opening.

Tip: When using this pattern to draft your own drawers, make sure you measure the useable width of your fabric and draft your pattern accordingly. I made the mistake of drafting for 45" muslin but the fabric ended up being only 42". Not as comfortable to wear. So draft with your fabric width in mind.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Costume College Programming Classes

This year I am an assistant for the Costume College (tm) Programming Department. On Sunday we met for several hours to plan this year's class tracks/selections. I can report that we have a great selection of classes to offer and great teachers as well. If you have a coveted membership, please search me out in August - I'd love to meet you!

I am again teaching Nineteenth Century Corded Petticoats and, for this year's bonus track, Regency Outerwear. I am revising my notes from the Corded Petticoat class and adding lots more information for release (very soon) as a Feature Report right on my website ( More special information will be available for our list subscribers about corded pettiocoats and this upcoming report.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Costume Birthday Party (and Regency corsets)

On Saturday I was able to play dress up again in my new Civil War navy dress and join my good friends, Lily and Violet, at the 60th Birthday party for our dear friend Patrice.
Patrice's husband, Steve, gave her a true Hollywood-Style Roast. Lots of laughter was had by all, along with delicious coconut cake brought by General and Mrs. Pickett and believed to be a favorite of Robert E. Lee's.
The photo is of Violet in an 1850s orange and blue day dress, Patrice in an over-the-top black hat with feathers, Lily in an 1860s white tucked blouse and patterned skirt, and me (Jennifer) in my new 1860s Navy dress with hand sewn ribbons.
Of course lots of costuming ideas were discussed, and a serious discussion on Regency corset fittings took place. I've made an 1830s corded corset and am desperately wanting a short corset for the 1790s. (I will put that garment into the ever expanding project list.) The tip given was to make sure the bust gussets are large enough to cup the bust and just hold them up in place. Also for larger busted women, add a drawstring to the top front edge of the corset to hug the fabric closer in to the body.
If you have had luck (or disappointment) when making a Regency corset, please share your story.