Saturday, December 19, 2009
Check out her recent posting on Christmas in the 1800s. It's filled with popular decorations, food and sweets, lifestyles, and war-time celebrations in the Victorian era.
There's also a post on Civil War hairstyles gleaned from several period sources.
And if you are working on creating your 19th C. persona, Victoria has also written "Portraying the Victorian Woman" to help you along. It is nicely composed; however, the CDV's in the Upper Class section might simply be women in the middle or upper-middle class. It is hard to be definite without names.
Upper class members at reenactments are rarely found. Extensive research on this monied group must be done before you attempt it. (If unsure, stick to upper-middle class and you'll still get to wear the pretty gowns and leave the cooking to the servants.)
Victoria Rumble is author of Thistle Dew Books, one of which is Victoria's Home Companion, or The Whole Art of Cooking which is a Fabulous book on 19th Century cooking.
Tuesday, December 8, 2009
19th Century bodices need a lot of under support to hold the bodice in shape, be sturdy enough for boning, and create a firm base for trims. Twill fabric works best for this garment. You can also use a denim or tightly woven poplin as well. Remember, for best results, use 100% cotton or linen or a blend of the two for your underlinings.
So check out RF's new twill for flat lining your latest ballgown bodice. Tell them you heard about it from Cloak & Corset!
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
Well, I said: What a perfectly modern idea for historical wear! Since we in the northern hemisphere are now into the winter season, a new jacket, pelisse or cloak would be just the thing to try out this contemporary styling.
So when you're making up that next outerwear piece, give it this modern twist. Make up the outer layer properly with a good underlining that will wear and show nicely. You may even make the garment up as usual with a proper lining and underlining. Then, using the same pattern (perhaps cut a tiny bit smaller), make up a single layer of the garment for the removable lining. (Finish the edges with binding or a narrow hem.)
Attach the lining inside the outer layer with ties or buttons along the inside edges. You can try hooks and thread loops but they may not hold as well. For period accurate clothing, you, of course, should never use zippers on any garment prior to the early 1930s. Snaps would also work, however they would show when the removable lining was not attached.
So... what a modern take on 19th C. clothing! If you live in a cold climate that extra layer may be just the thing to take you through three seasons. Try using a good cotton or wool flannel for coziness. Then you'll be all ready for that skating party, a walk in the woods, or for traveling to the ball.
Have you already used this trick for a historical outer garment? Write a comment below or send a note to firstname.lastname@example.org to let us know your success with it.
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
I want to shout out a very warm Thank You to our guest judges, Liz Gerds, shop manager of Farthingales LA and Maegen Hensley, executive assistant at BCBG and Dean of Costume College 2009. Both of these women are accomplished corsetieres and know what to look for in the fine details of Victorian corset construction. Thanks again ladies!
Without further delay, here are the winners of the 2009 Corset Sewing Contest:
Grand Prize: Sahrye Cohen
Third Place: Chantal Filson
Congratulations to the winners!! Very well done.
Remember, the contest was judged primarily on the sewing construction of the corset. Fit, fabrics, pattern drafting, etc. were, however, taken into consideration when they affected seams, busk and grommet settings, and overall support and shape of the corset.
Additional photos of the winning corsets will be available for viewing on our website in the near future.
Again, congratulations to the winners and thanks to everyone who entered!
Sunday, November 15, 2009
If I have more projects coming due, I allow myself a couple weeks to chill then get back to work. I value my breaks and wear out too quickly if I don't get them. (Do you need break time?)
So I'm currently on a LONG sewing break otherwise known as Costumer Burnout. After each Costume College I take August off, but completing the 1870s striped Lizzy dress for the September picnic was hard for me as I just didn't feel like sewing. Then HCA's Regency Soiree at my home demanded a thrown together outfit for the cook - with no energy (and time) left to complete my own new gown.
And I'm *still* not ready to tackle those two modern business outfits sitting on the cutting table - with pattern altered and fabric pre-treated to bat. True burnout has arrived.
As I read over many of your blogs, LiveJournals and other sites, I find the common thread of burnout at this point in the year. Perhaps it started in late summer/early fall. Or now that Halloween is over you are DONE for the year.
Even with costuming events continuing into the holiday season and beyond (i.e. Victorian skating events, parties, Jane Austen teas and balls, etc.) it seems like our creativity never has a chance to take a breath and rejuvenate.
So I call for a costumers' off-season. Let this time be one to plan your large dream projects for the coming year - complete with deadlines. Brush up on your research of a particular period, garment or technique. Sit by the fireside and embroider for an hour while catching up with good costume dramas or simply chat with family and friends.
If you are one of those who MUST have something on the table when the next event is months away, pull out those long-forgotten undergarments in need of repair or construction.
Make a new set of drawers and chemise.
Attempt that ruffled petticoat you've been putting off.
Take on an entirely new article, the Corded Petticoat. When that Dickens festival, Alamo reenactment, or Gold Rush Days event gets scheduled, you'll be prepared.
Don't let Sewing Off-Season get you down! If you are burned out, re-focus on those people and activities that are just as dear to you as your historical projects. When you're refreshed you'll be ready to take on even the most challenging articles on your list. Enjoy the time off.
Saturday, October 31, 2009
But this week my husband and I rented Lost in Austen, the TV mini-series by Image Entertainment. Wow! We were so pleasantly surprised with how humorous and entertaining it was.
I went into it with low expectations as I couldn't stand the photos showing Jemima Roper as Amanda with her modern hair hanging in her face. Even as a time traveling character. I understand it from a characterization point of view - to distinguish her as from another time/place - but after a few days in Rome you should be following their ways. It bothered me throughout the entire 3 hour film but the distorted story line took some of the attention away.
Amanda switches places with Lizzy Bennet from the famous Pride & Prejudice story. She then realizes that her appearance is disrupting the endeared story we all know, so her task is to make sure the proper characters meet at the designated times so they marry later. You think that Amanda will succeed until a beloved sister ends up with the greasy minister who makes us cringe.
What? How did that happen? Ok - this story just got twisted. Now that it had our attention we were trying to guess at what was to happen next. Every character you *think* you know is somehow a little bit or completely not what you think. Wickham - nope. Caroline Bingley - definitely a surprise. Mr. Bingley - yeah....
A few of the costumes were adequate (Caroline's were some of the best) while others were greatly lacking; definitely rented from the popular costume houses like Cosprop as I spotted a few from other films. Bonnets were of a wide assortment. A few decent styles while some straws screamed "costume" rather than clothing (really didn't like Jane Bennet's wide brimmed topping). Most of the menswear as well looked like Halloween ensembles instead of properly tailored coats and breeches.
So don't see it for Regency research. But DO see it for a laugh and jolly romp with some of our favorite Jane Austen characters (including Mr. Darcy in his wet shirt). Lost in Austen is a great film to put on while sewing your new 1810 picnic dress.
Thursday, October 15, 2009
The event was sponsored by our civilian reenacting group (HCA). To make the ocassion special, we hired a caterer to prepare all sorts of English treats. This new cook at the Hall just happens to be my sister-in-law, Mrs. Brown. Although she sews, part of her discounted fee was to have me take care of her clothing for this costume-required party.
Sunday, September 27, 2009
I've always been a lover of Victoriana. Soon after college I went through the activities in What Color Is Your Parachute and racked my brain at what kind of career existed for one with a love of sewing, Victorian decorating, and travel. As the years passed and my closet of Victorian clothing expanded, I realized I could never be a true Victorian - I like my Starbucks and Internet too much (among other things).
In my costume sewing, fantasy costumes have never really entered my "playlist." Personally I've been grounded in everyday clothing, the occasional pillow set or window covering, and eventually, classically styled 19th C. fashion. Those ideas off the beaten path intrigued me, but no space was left in my current list of projects.
Then I heard about Steampunk. A couple years ago the name crossed my path, and I casually read more about it. The base is (generally) a Victorian silhouette combined with elements of steam-powered engines and 19th C. Sci-Fi authors like H.G. Wells and Jules Verne.
Ahh... like Back to the Future III and Clara's purple 1890s costume on the steam train time machine. I got it.
I think Steampunk can give my creativity an outlet without straying far from the Victorian daywear I love. Plus, it throws in that element of travel - time travel that is - something I'm naturally curious about anyway.
So back to the Wikipedia Steampunk article: I came across a term - Neo-Victorianism - that was new to me so I clicked to find out more.
Turns out that is EXACTLY what I am. A Neo-Victorian. This was both a 'duh' and an enlightening moment. A lover of 19th Century stuff (living, memorabilia, clothing, decor, etc.) and trying to integrate those ideas and styles into my modern life. Adding touches of Victorian fashion to my modern clothes sewing. The chivalry and romanticism. (My husband opens doors for me.) The picnics and balls. The dreaming of puffed sleeves and Camelot a' la Anne Shirley.
My house, although trying to be of French Country decor, is sprinkled with treasures flavored of the past. I read Victorian Homes magazine and collect Godey's Lady's Books. But I shudder at the loss of toilet paper, fluoride toothpaste, running water, vacuums, refrigerators, Advil and dozens of other items that make my 21st Century life easier.
I long for the "good ol' days" - but not their trials. I was born a century too late - or was I?
No, I enjoy my modern conveniences too much. But I CAN incorporate my passion of Victorian ideals with my blue jeans and call myself a Neo-Victorian.
I have found my place. Now, about that Steampunk costume....
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
I’m in the middle of what I call Sewing Overload and desperately want to NOT sew for about two months. Alas, as I finish my stripe-y cuteness I’m jumping into three more projects to be completed in under three weeks. Yes, I’m insane. (I won’t comment on my unnamed friend’s frothy white & red organdy bustle dress that she STARTED three days before the picnic.)
The 1870s picnic on Sunday was well attended with about 40 to 50 in costume. Everyone looked yummy and it was a pleasant group. We ate, took tours through the Banning House, played badminton and croquet, ate some more, shared stories, relaxed on the cool grass, laughed, delighted in the young children as they ran around in their period-appropriate clothing, and generally had a very nice afternoon.
My dress, in my humble but unashamed opinion, was the cutest costume I’ve ever made. (And I like most (but not all) of my completed projects.) It was 100% finished by Saturday afternoon. However, I was still up late finishing the trimming on my new hat. Exhaustion reigns but I love my outfit.
Being sheer fabric with a lightweight muslin base, the skirt was surprisingly easy to move in and frolic over the grass lawn. The bodice was flat lined in lightweight denim and was just as easy to wear. I think my old ruffled petticoat made from heavy-duty cotton (before I knew better about making petticoats in light/stiff fabrics) was just as heavy as my trained skirt. Yikes! That sucker was dense and hot.
I'm only wearing my lobster tail bustle and pad for support as it's on the end of the First Bustle Era and Natural Form was starting to appear. I wonder how the skirt would look under my Truly Victorian bustle?
And, of course, I have the perfunctory Victorian bow on the bodice back pleat.
I’m currently planning a Regency Autumn Soiree in early October for my reenacting group. My husband and I are hosting the elegant dinner party complete with period English cuisine for both the afternoon tea and the dinner, a bit of dancing, cards and conversation all by candlelight.
So the sewing continues. Ahhh…for a break!
Wednesday, September 2, 2009
We hope you enjoy the monthly newsletters, vintage articles, recommended resources and much more found here. Sara and I are busy discussing new ways to give you the information you seek to sew beautiful 19th Century clothing.
Just drop us a line at Sewing at CloakAndCorset dot com or post a comment here (see that word "comment" down below?) or even catch us over on our Facebook fan page.
Let us know!
Monday, August 31, 2009
So, I actually had 48 yards (yes - forty-eight) of bias strips to run through my ruffler foot then pin and sew to the skirt base. (When all was said and done, I have enough pleated ruffle strips left that I don't have to cut and hem more for the bodice hem ruffle and perhaps even the sleeve ruffles. Yippie!)
Speaking of my ruffler foot - AAARRRRRGGGGHHHHHHH!!!!!
So I took my machine in for a cleaning since it'd last seen a tech in, like, 2002. (I have a Viking so it's self-oiling but it does need to be cleaned every once in a while - you would think I'd pay attention to that. duh) Well, I've not had a problem, although the black case where I plug in my cords had a crack right through it and the handle doesn't sit properly anymore. But I didn't think that my special Viking ruffler foot would cause a problem.
Something was amiss as I started running my kazillion yards through the foot. About every, oh, 10 inches or so the needle thread would shred and break. Like it was getting caught when it was moving around the bobbin. I was so confused and frustrated. What would have taken about an hour was nearly 2 and a half to finish the strips. I had to go super slow and the thread would still break.
Apparently the needle was hitting the feeder on the foot. It dulled my needle like nothing else which didn't help the problem as I continued to feed my fabric through. Hopefully that'll not happen again and it'll play nice next time.
But it got done and here is the skirt with the glorious, sheer bias ruffles:
It did end up taking a few evenings and several hours (albeit watching Firefly episodes) to scallop pink both edges of each bias strip. With no sewn hem, the ruffles stay light and airy.
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
So.... I present my latest "insane" costume: an 1875 blue striped, sheer summer gown. The debut will be at the HCA 1870s Picnic on September 20th at the Banning House Museum in the LA area.
Being that most of my costume ideas start from fashion plates or extant garments, this project is no exception.
This is Plate 12 from Full-Color Victorian Fashions: 1870-1893 by JoAnne Olian. I've admired it for some time as it's girl-y and light. The perfect thing for a "Buccaneer" afternoon frolic over the lawns playing croquet and partaking of fresh delicacies.
Saturday, August 22, 2009
And the back view:
I used JP Ryan's Caraco pattern made from a 100% cotton duvet from Ikea. I have enough fabric left over to make a matching petticoat. The caraco skirt can also be polonaised up (the correct verb - thank you Val!) which I think will look adorable with the matching petticoat.
Here is the box pleated trim with braid on top. I pleated the fabric strip then ran it through my machine with a basting stitch. I hand tacked the braid on top while simultaneously sewing it to the neckline.
The inside of the center front:
The quilted petticoat is made from a bed quilt from Target. It has one side seam that I flat felled to make the petticoat reversible. The other side I slit down for the pocket access as well as getting in and out of it. The front and back are separate: the back ties in front then the front covers the knot to tie in back. (The photo below is of the back. You can see the front ties knotted at center back.)
I box pleated the centers then put in large knife pleats to take up the remainder of the panel to fit the waistband. (For convenience, I used the 2" wide grosgrain ribbon that came wrapped around the quilt from the store for the waistband.)
Thursday, August 13, 2009
THURSDAY: Arrived in mid-afternoon. Unloaded two vehicles with about 6.17 tons of STUFF. (Strangely no sewing machines were included.) Hung out at Info/Check-In to help set up. Sewed last two eyelets in my pink stays straps.
Dressed some funky, beat up mannequins in my 1876 Gown and my husband’s Regency ensemble.
Talked with lots of new and old people. Rolled hair in tight sponge curlers. Can you believe bed before midnight??
FRIDAY: Ratted and sprayed and ratted and sprayed some more to get my own hair into Hedgehog City – circa 1788. Remind me again about why they liked a long straight ponytail hanging from under the cotton ball head cover…
Wore my new 18th C. Caraco and Quilted Petticoat – This outfit brought to you by department stores. Answered questions from the Info Desk. Stuck a kazillion labels on cards for the Random Wheel of Knowledge.
Taught another terrific 19th C. Corded Petticoat class. The room overflowed into the hall with over 30 people again!
Learned about Stays & the Body from Lynn Sorge-English. So... our hunches were right about them not knowing what they were doing.
Quick to the Marketplace for early shopping with Sara. I’m a sucker for navy Regency bonnets. Anyone with me?
20 minute dinner at the hotel
SATURDAY: Curl setting lotion is the bomb! Wore my newly finished 1844 Dress. (Only two years late.) I need a bigger bum pad.
Did I say I’m a sucker for blue Regency bonnets?
Talked and chatted with so many people every time I visited the Marketplace. Delightful.
Enjoyed Sally Queen and Mela’s Hollywood class. Ooh, we need a whole class focusing on one film and the historical and not-so-historical costuming parts.
Back in the tiny room again to teach about the quickest way to make a Victorian Corset.
Despite the overflow into the hallway and the late hour, I saw nearly everyone find some tip or technique to take home.
Collapse in the room – no wait, need to dress for the Gala. No time! Curled hair, hooked and looped dresses together. Flounced about the room. Rushed to dinner. Danced to a great selection of music. Admired the general “prettiness” of the entire ballroom. Gushed at the marvelous beauties. How did the night go so quickly?
Hauled a huge purple bin up to the Hospitality Suite to teach people about the inside of 19th C. clothing. "So that’s how they did that!"
SUNDAY: No Undies but comfy jeans and top. Sally’s class on 18th C. Dress Down Friday Jackets. Inspirational. Can I have them for modern Friday work wear?
Back to Marketplace where I chatted with yet MORE people. (And I wondered why I hadn’t succeeded in completing my shopping list yet.)
Ok, REALLY have to get my shopping done now – last chance. Then my Hand Embroidery Class where we were all tired out but had fun twirling thread around a needle and pulling through.
CGW Annual Meeting – under 2 hours! You have no idea how excited we were (unless, of course, you yourself were at the 2006 historic SIX hour meeting.) Casey for Director of All Future Elections!
Dinner at Millie’s. Laughed until we cried - several times – I think exhaustion and Wrackspurts had taken over at that point. Chatted about next year. (Helps having the new Dean and CGW VP, Programming Chair and Registrar, not to mention other Committee Heads, with you at the table.)
(I don't really know how Becky was still able to take pictures at this point.)
Back to the hotel where we packed, stayed up way too late discussing plans and changes for next year, then crashed into bed. zzzzz.....
My apologies for not getting up off the sofa sooner and letting you read about the goings on. When you're a teacher, attendee, and committee head, that one long weekend takes it all from you. Now, two weeks later and I'm back to the sewing room. hehe