Tuesday, June 30, 2009

1844 Bodice In Pieces

Whew... June has flown by with very little sewing to show for it. :-(

Now that the filming for the new Quick & Easy Victorian Corset Demonstration Video is over and the eBook is in the final stages before publication on July 9th, I can get back to my sewing for Costume College. Yea!

Here is what I've put together so far on my 1844 Summer gown.

I really took my time cutting each piece separately and then when sewing. Those stripes are something else! I love them.

I also decided to pipe every seam as was done in the 1840s. You can see the back and side back (on the left) stripes line up even with the piping running along the seam. I decided to ignore my grainline (shock!) to allow for stripe matching. The linen underlining, however, is cut on grain for support.

I found this lace from an eBay dealer that was already ivory, so no tea dying for me. Terrific!

All those stripes need something to break up the view, and I think this lace (similar to the fashion plate) is just the thing. But of course, trim on ANY 19th Century garment is required.

The skirt is still in cut panels, but I'm looking forward to a couple of nice evenings hand sewing in the cartridge pleats.

What are your favorite 1840s-set films I could put on for inspiration sewing? Perhaps I'll watch Jane Eyre (2006) again. It's fabulous!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Jane Austen with an iPod

Over at the Jane Austen Addict Blog, Laurie (Viera Rigler), author of Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict (which I've read and thought was decent but could have been more detailed in characterizations) made a post last month of her new novel.



The cover (a lovely painted picture) on Ms. Rigler's new novel, Rude Awakenings of a Jane Austen Addict, is posted here on on the JA Addict Blog. You have to see it - a lady in a delicate, pure white spotted muslin gown accessorized by a white iPod. Brilliant!


(I just clicked over to Amazon and watched the video trailer for the book - Wow! I may just have to order a copy. It looks very interesting. Time travel and Regency - fabulous!)


.... I wonder if Jane Austen had really had an iPod, what would she have on it? Mozart? Bach? Vivaldi? Handel? And what would have been her favorite? What music would she have had playing in her head while writing of Lizzy in the Lake Country? Or Catherine journeying to Northanger Abbey?

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

A Lovely Vintage Tea

Over the weekend I had the fun opportunity to attend a most delightful Vintage Tea in LA. Gina was the gracious hostess (despite breaking her shoe heel) and offered many delicious goodies to munch on while we perused the racks of vintage clothing.

The house and back patio were inviting, the treats yummy (I loved the brownie bites and cream stuffed strawberries!), the people fabulous and the clothing sleek, cheeky and fun!


Don't you just love Chantal's deep-curved 1950s black hat? It was made of awesome! Everyone wanted it.


I met up with my good friends Lana and Jenn (who I didn't know were coming until they arrived). Fabulous-ness!
Racks oozing with mid-20th Century clothes waiting to be tried on, modeled or purchased (for cheap!).


I wore my 1920s brown dress with my red t-strap heels I got at Kohls a couple years ago. I took the photo of me in the large picture mirror. The silver dress and jacket is vintage 1970s (and was a great color for Lana).
I looked through the racks but I normally shy away from 20th C. vintage clothing as it's usually too small for me. But hark!
As I was trying on a few jackets I pulled out this one:

As the buttons were closed I was *Amazed* at the PERFECT fit! It's a heavy satin, probably nylon as was huge in the 1950s as the new fabric. The wide collar and pepulm are trimmed with black velvet, beads and couched cording. It looks home-made because the seams are simply pinked and pressed open and a modern facing finishes the neckline. But the construction is well done.

So I can now believe there were people in the past with my figure traits.
I wouldn't dream of wearing it, but wouldn't it be fun to find an antique 19th C. gown (my choice: 1870s) that fit perfectly? I guess we'll have to make do with sewing our own...

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

18th C. Pink Stays - Slow But Steady

I *have* actually been working on my Pink 18th C. Stays since my last post in March even if I've not shown you any in-progress pictures. I apologize for not sharing sooner.


On the pink silk I decided to use 100% cotton blue thread for the bone channel stitching as well as the hand eyelets along the center back.



The eyelets are slow going. Probably because I'm taking my time to not break the one strand of thread I'm using; but it's also due to putting on good costume drama flims that pull my attention away from sewing. Darn those Drool-Worthy Costumes!


Even though I will only be adding in cane boning to every other channel, I'm sad that the sketched bone channels on my pattern get lost in the sea of continuous stitching. The channels with the boning are colored in on my pattern, emphasizing the lines of the stitches and shape of the stays; whereas on the made up stays, they simply blend in. Oh, well. Maybe next time (much later) I'll not sew so many channel lines....

Working in a high-end designer furniture store for the past several years has its benefits: free fabric samples. I dug through my stash and found this large piece of cotton ticking print that was *exactly* big enough for my pattern.


That sample was made for corset lining! I like the muted green stripe color - such a choice for the inside of Pink stays with Blue stitching.

So, I have 8 eyelets left then I can put the five stay sections together and start binding. Ahh.. more costume flicks to distract....

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Learning New and Old


As a teacher at Costume College you might think I don't need to take classes offered by other instructors. I've been attending "CoCo" since 2000, and the thing I like most is getting my class offerings list in the spring (around April) and choosing which classes to take.


My first teaching experience at Costume College was in 2004 when my friend lana/Lily and I put together the Modern Sewing Techniques class. It was Friday morning at 9am. And we packed the house! (Or rather we stuffed 60 people into a small classroom.) My! how so many wanted to learn about the basic, easy-to-learn skills that would accelerate their historical clothing from "that's nice" to "Wow!"

I love teaching at conferences and workshops like Costume College. Giving back and sharing my passion of sewing and my time-honed methods with others is such a joy. I truly love it.




So if I am included in the awe-inducing list of those who share their knowledge at Costume College, what classes then do I choose for my own learning experience?

You might think that it's best to pick classes where you know little about the subject so you can increase your knowledge base. And I do - I am SUPER excited to take Beginning Hand Embroidery this year. I've done very little and most of that when I was younger than 10. I want to have the skills to add this wonderful decoration to many of my costumes and accessories. This would be a new topic for me.

And draping an 18th C. Francaise gown. It is an entirely new article of clothing I have not made but want to learn about. Again, learning a new method. (For more info go here to the 18th C New England Life site.)



But you know what? I also look for classes that will build on those talents I'm already advanced in. Like pressing. Or detailed hand sewing work. Or choosing fabrics. Or matching stripes. My God-given talent is the construction. So why would I want to take more classes on sewing?

Because I love learning - from my students and from other teachers! Everyone knows some thing, some tip or trick, or best fabric source that will enhance another's portfolio. I dwell on receiving new information from my costuming peers. Sometimes that means taking a class or two AGAIN. (I've taken the Regency Overview class from Martha Davis 3 times at CoCo! And I never tire of it.)

It is good to review topics and skills you know - and from a variety of teachers. I wouldn't hesitate, if given the opportunity, to sit in on a corset making class - even when I'm writing an eBook on the topic as you read this. A new instructor may have just the bit of a sewing secret I've yet to uncover that will propel me further in my own techniques.

So I encourage you to search out books, websites, instructors, lectures and workshops to increase your own knowledge of historical sewing. And better yet, on a topic you already are proficient in. One cannot be a master of all. But you can master one area (of costuming).


If you are terrific at embroidery - increase your knowledge and skill of the art. If you drape your own patterns - learn ways to improve the fit of new garments. Focus on the ONE aspect of historical clothing in which you excel. Being a "jack of all trades" will only get your outfits so far. Emphasize that one area you are superb in and the costume will be made of *awesome*.