Sunday, August 24, 2008

The Duchess - a new movie

The Duchess, a movie about the Duchess of Devonshire in the late 18th Century, is scheduled for a US release on Sept. 19th.

Check out the website for a short trailer and beautiful music.

Be sure to click on the Costumes tab for a look at some of the fabulous creations. You can zoom in for details too. I particularly love the Victory Costume with the blue and brown bodice.


Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Sara's Sewing Progress...

Well, I had a great time on my camping trip at Hume Lake in the Sequoias but I did manage to get sick the last 3 days I was there. Not too fun to not be in your comfortable bed at home just being sick and resting. While camping, there is typically always something that needs to be done.

I was hoping it wouldn't last too long and that by Saturday I would be much recovered. But alas, I am still not well and it's Tuesday! Needless-to-say, not much progress has been made on my BIG sewing project: the American Civil War Civilian Men's Outfit for my husband.

I received all my patterns just before I left but did not have enough time to do anything with them.

Here is my "schedule" of how I would like things to progress:
1. Figure out everything I need for the different pieces and make a list
2. Copy all patterns to Paper for Useable Patterns
3. Buy fashion fabric and all notions for pants, shirt, and vest
4. Wash/Pre-Treat all fashion fabrics (this can also be done while sewing mock-ups to help save time)
5. Wash and cut muslin for mock-ups
6. Make mock-up of pants from muslin
7. Fit pants to husband and make necessary adjustments (to pattern as well, if necessary)
8. Cut fashion fabric for pants
9. Sew pants
10. Final fitting of pants, adjust if necessary (shouldn't be needed since mock-up was made but it never hurts for one last check)
11. Repeat steps 6-10 for shirt and vest.

So as Jennifer suggests, I have created a schedule. Although I haven't set specific dates to any of them or to any of the tasks involved in each step, it is definitely a place to start.

Now, with all that said, I have no idea when I will be able to start doing the steps I outlined above. I don't have much energy right now other than to lie on my couch. I don't think I'll be able to get this outfit made in time as I think I still have a few more days recovery before I'm feeling much better and this weekend is booked with family things (and the event is next weekend!).

My husband is not too disappointed so that helps and I'm trying to look on the brighter side of things. Now I don't have a looming deadline to get this done by. Although deadlines can be beneficial as they push us to complete out projects, I now feel like I have time to find just the right fabrics for each piece and to really spend some quality time putting everything together, starting with the mock-ups (a vaulable step that I learned from my last big project that really should never be skipped).

I will keep you up-to-date on the progress of this Civil War Civilian Men's Outfit and definitely show pictures along the way.

I hope this will also encourage you that while everything doesn't always go as we would like because of some surprises that come along, there is typically a brighter side to the situation as well and it's definitely worth looking for. My brighter side is being able to find the right fabrics and to really work on my skills without the rush.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Living in the Past?

Would you live in the past? Why or why not?

What if you could bring the past to life in your world today? Not as a historical event or weekend reenactment, but really infuse your life with history?

In Britain last week, they ran this TV article called Time Warp Wives. (Since I don't live in the UK, I did not actually see the show.) They had 4 women on the show, each living their lives as if it were the 1950s, 1940s or 1930s. They dress in period clothing, are homemakers, take care of their husbands, and reign over their domestic domain.

Their homes reflect the decade's styling, complete with appropriate appliances and furnishings. These women AND their spouses even integrate contemporary ideas into their everyday living, such as men are the breadwinners while the women take care of the home, as well as proper etiquette of the time.

Now, I've read several opinions that think these women are living in a fantasy world; that they need to "get real" and come back to reality and the present day.

But I find these women fascinating. Truly.

I admire them because they are taking the initiative to live their lives how they want to live - not what the world or society tells them how they should live.

Your home is your castle - a place to rest, revitalize and renew. We each make our home special as to how we want it, with furnishings and items, sentimental pieces and crazy finds, so our house reflects what we think of as good, meaningful, and inspiring. Your house reflects your individual personality.

Heck, even if you work outside your home, you've probably displayed at least one personal item to make your work space "yours." The things you gather and collect represent who you are.

So if you like the 1950s, why not collect items from that decade?

What if a particular hairstyle from 1923 calls to you and you decide to chop your locks and go short?

What if your figure looks best in full skirts and a belted waist? Dior's "New Look" might be one to try on....

Little by little, we start accumulating articles that we love. This happens especially to those of us who love historical clothing and are living history reenactors.

I am a civilian Civil War reenactor. I am always on the lookout for household "stuff" made from glass, wood and metal. No plastic!

I love the romance of the Victorian era. The "pretty-ness" of it all. If you've read my bio at Cloak & Corset, you know I feel born into the wrong time.

But that's just it: Only the glossy, happy feelings and beautiful artifacts from a bygone era is what I truly want to create in my life. I'll keep my indoor plumbing and modern medicine.

These Time Warp Wives have decided to go gung-ho and collect articles from a particular past decade. It's even gone so far into their clothing and attitudes. However, they have taken only those "glossy feelings and beautiful artifacts" of the past and infused them into their modern lives. I'll bet they still have their flush toilets and computers. :-)

The 1930s, '40s and 50s were not all rosy, especially in Europe. These women are not including that negative, cruel history into their lives.

And one more point: This was a TV show. Producers will find the most controversial topics from their subject to play on the show and write in press releases. It sells more advertising. We can't judge these women simply from a brief written article or a hour long show. They may be more modern than we think.

They've just learned how to make the past come alive in a very real way.

If you are making and wearing historical clothing, you are also making the past come alive. Your unique personality is crafted into your period garments. Now all you do is take the attitudes from that time period and you will be living in the past - for as long and as authentic as you please.

Make it your very own!

To read the write-up on the TV show go here.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Costume College 2008 Report

Hi all! Costume College was really great this year: lots of good classes taught, much sharing of sewing information, and ideas for new projects formed.

To share more of the goings-on with you, we’ve set up a new Cloak And Corset photo album on Flickr at:

You do not have to be a member of Yahoo or Flickr to view the photos. Costume College ‘08 pictures are the first ones to debut here! Feel free to post comments.

FRIDAY: I volunteered at the Information and Volunteer Desks chatting with many and helping others.

Classes: Godey’s Fashion Plate to Reality – Please remember to use ONLY natural fiber fabrics for your linings and underlinings. You will be much more comfortable (and accurate) in your historical clothes.

18th Century Shoes from Your Closet – Really great class on how to take apart a modern shoe and drape and recover it in an 18th Century style. Can’t wait to start this craft to making matching shoes for my new Georgian wardrobe (soon to come).

Timeline of Costuming – The Late Baroque period started in 1685. I did not know that before I took this class.

After the evening Orientation, the buying frenzy began. At Atelier Mela the mad hat modeling and trading ensued, and I ended up with a fabulous (and very tall) mauve/maroon/pink and brown straw 1830s bonnet and a white straw late 18th C. flat hat.

Maegen Hensley, Dean for 2009, chose “The 18th Century” as the theme, so into it I go! My limited attendance class on Sunday afternoon of 18th C. Hair and Makeup was awesome. I look forward to practicing the techniques so by next summer I will have achieved the right “look.”

After the hat buying, a change into comfy clothes and Hospitality Suite snacks, the Panic Room was open for panicking on your unfinished Gala costumes. Many had quiet hand finishing projects. But we also had sheer panic. Thanks to Shawn Crosby and his toolbox!

SATURDAY: Busier day. Even though it wasn’t Sunday (as in “Undies”) I wore my 19th C. chemise, corset and corded petticoat. Many people were so interested in my corded petticoat that they decided to attend the class at 3:30.

What a wonderful session! I love teaching the Corded Petticoat class, and with many questions from my audience, I hope you all learned more about this obscure, but necessary, undergarment from the 1830s and ‘40s. If you have any further questions from the class, please email me.
Or if you want to get even MORE information on the Corded Petticoat, please go here.

Saturday classes: Regency Etiquette – always remove your gloves when eating, and do not remove your bonnet if staying only 15 minutes.

Dressed for the Photographer – Joan Severa, the author, presented slides from her book and chatted about the 19th Century. She belongs to the Daguerreian Society. Apparently there are thousands of 19th C. daguerreotype photographs hidden away in bank vaults. The owners were more than happy to shower Joan with them for her book research.

Gala: From our room we had: 1940s navy evening gown, 1880s blue and cream evening gown, a Regency red ball gown, and 1876 white and pink evening gown.

The column decoration looked spectacular, and there were so many good costumes this year! I’m sorry I wasn’t able to get pictures of everyone. Most of the Empress Eugenie girls were there (from Costume Con 26) so all could look at them close up.

SUNDAY: Exhausted, we pulled ourselves out of bed early. How to manage a Regency curl up-do and a 1860s bun in quick time while exhausted? – Patience!
This was my fullest day of classes and teaching.

Classes: Regency Gowns from Saris – oh my! When can I start? Oh wait – I need a sari first. Martha used real saris to drape various Regency gowns. Eye-opening to the possibilities – but first 18th Century before I go back to Regency!

Regency Men’s Overview and then Regency Hats and Headdresses both taught by the ever-informative Mela Hoyt-Hayden.

My Regency Outerwear class was a quiet, one hour lecture on the various spencers, pelisses, shawls, mantles, tippets and redingotes of the early 19th Century.

Then came the awesome 18th C. Hair and Makeup class taught by Kendra Van Cleave. Now I really need to start making hair rats (or some stuffed padding forms) to achieve those big hairstyles of the Georgian era.

What a wonderful weekend though. I met many Cloak & Corset members – thank you for taking the time to chat with me! To the winner of my Corded Petticoat report, given away at the end of my class, congratulations!

Ginny (Pig) had a glorious first Costume College! Stay tuned for her special report on what she did and the special people she met.

Until next time,
Happy Sewing!

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Sara's Sewing Endeavors have Begun...

So the time is quickly approaching (the end of August, that is) where I need to have complete outfits for both myself and my husband for our first Civil War event together.

My last Civil War event, I borrowed all of my clothes except my drawers (undergarment) from both Jennifer and my sister. They were able to pull together a really nice outfit for me.

This time I wanted to have my own creation on my skin. However...I don't think it's going to happen. I definitely waited too long for one reason or another to get started on this big project so I just don't think I'm going to be able to pull it off. (It doesn't help either that we will be gone for 10 days in August for our annual camping trip - this severely limits my sewing time!)

So instead of trying to pull a rabbit out of a hat and create two complete ensembles, I am going to only focus on my husband's as we do not have any men's clothes from others we can borrow.

He is going as a civilian (although, we aren't sure what kind yet) so I need to make some pants, a shirt, a vest, and possibly a coat (the coat may have to come a little later as I don't want to kill myself and the other three pieces will be quite enough for now). For myself, if I have any spare time, I will work on my undergarments. Whatever I don't finish for myself will just be borrowed again. While I love new clothes I also love my sanity.

I asked Jennifer for some tips on what patterns to buy and she had some good recommendations.

So based on her recommendations and my quick research, I ended up purchasing the following on Friday morning:
1. Mid 19th Century Men's Shirts Pattern - Smoke & Fire -
2. Vest - Buckaroo Bobbins -
3. Pants - Laughing Moon - - Item #106 California Pants
4. 1858 Frockcoat - Smoke & Fire -
5. Men's Sack Suit Jacket - Smoke & Fire -
6. Misses Civil War Chemise and Corset - Simplicity - - Item #7215
7. Misses Civil War Crinoline and Petticoat - Simplicity - - Item #9764

I ended up just using Simplicity Patterns for myself as 1) you could get 2 patterns together which helped with the cost and 2) I know I can sew Simplicity patterns.

Later, I will go back to the Past Patterns website and probably buy some of their patterns. (They were just a little too much money for me right now plus, I want to make sure I have plenty of time to really devote to them.)

I also purchased two coat patterns as I think it would be nice to have a little variety for my husband. (Hopefully they will both go with whatever persona he creates so he can wear them both at one time or another.)

Next for me is to plan out my schedule to be able to accomplish this monster of a task and then I believe it's on to the fabric store.

I would love to buy all the fabric this week and start cutting out the pieces, but I'm not sure how soon I will get the patterns. We leave very early on Saturday morning (3am to miss the traffic through LA - yes, there is traffic on Saturday mornings) for our camping trip and I won't return until late the following Sunday night.

Some of the websites do tell you exactly how much and what type fabric you need for that pattern which is useful to at least get started on buying the fabric when you don't have the pattern yet.

I will definitely be applying a lot of the good tips and instructions Jennifer gives in her new eBook "Modern Sewing Techniques for Historical Clothing Construction" with these projects. I am just so thankful I have this handy tool to help me along the way with this monster of a project.

I will be sharing my progress with you along the way, so stay tuned!

With that said, I had better get back to work on our camping stuff so that when those patterns do arrive, I can devote my time to that instead of packing.

P.S. Jennifer is in the final day of Costume College. I spoke with her on Friday and she said that it has been great so far. She will be updating us with what went on when she gets back. I can't wait!