Friday, 12 February 2016

Not quite abject failure but not much to show so far

A combination of summer heat (I don't have air conditioning at home, and my main windows face west) and a suddenly active again auto-immune disorder (aka The Evil) has impacted on how much sewing (and other real life things) I've been able to do this year. The first is beyond my control, and the second is a bit demoralising.

I planned to head up to the Roaring 20s & all that Jazz festival last Saturday in a fancy new 1920s dress, and got very close to finishing the dress before another bout of The Evil flared up. Instead of going to the Charleston Challenge, high tea and visiting a pub with a dixie jazz band, I went straight for the high tea in 1930s clothes.  Nothing like wearing a pretty hat and fun with friends to feel better about yourself. Bygone Beauties were even able to have a variety of gluten/dairy free treats for me.




I still want to finish the 20s dress this month as there's a historic dress picnic in early March. A fresh deadline means it won't hang around to become yet another UFO.

I thought I had some photos of progress on my UFO and January dresses but the only thing on my camera is this adapted sleeve for my Lilly Rose UFO.  I eyeballed the extra for a small puff at the top of the sleeve, as I'm fairly sure it's what I did with my first dress in this pattern. Hoping to finish that dress this weekend as the flare-up seems to be over.

Thursday, 21 January 2016

January dress - pattern progress

I've not yet reached the cutting out stage, but I did locate the fabric in storage and pre-shrink it.  I also discovered that I'd catalogued it as being 150cm wide, when it's only 112cm wide. Thankfully I still have plenty of fabric, but there won't be enough left over to make a blouse or shirt from it too.

I've started copying the original pieces. The 7 smaller pieces were traced onto sandwich paper, and I need to set up a larger work area to trace the wider pieces onto my architect tracing paper. So glad that I bought it, after I decided life was too short to stick longer pieces of sandwich paper together when I could buy a 45metre roll in a choice of widths. 

I'd like to cut the mock up out tomorrow night, so that means tonight I need to finish tracing off the pattern pieces, and raid the mockup stash. I'm wondering if I can get away with a full bust adjustment, and there's only one way to find out.  Though I will also need to do the height adjustment on the bodice pieces.

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Needing a non dress-a-month 1920s dress



Last night I got my January dress fabric out of storage and pre-shrunk it. I also discovered that it's only 112cm wide, not the 150cm. I'd thought for the past 6 years.  Thankfully I have enough fabric for the pattern, though there won't be enough for a dress and blouse.

My Dress-A-Month plan is external to any costume sewing I have to do, so the Australia Day weekend I'll be making another dress to wear early in February.

The Roaring 20s festival is on next month in the Blue Mountains and I've nothing suitable in either my real life or costume wardrobes (yes I have one for each).  To be honest I'm so not a flapper era shape. What I am is a bit of a nerd/geek/dork who cares about being well dressed.  So I also scoped my 1920s suitable fabrics, and with a lot of flip-flopping on decisions I'm going to use some silk/cotton voile I bought near the end of 2007.  It's seafoam, a colour that isn't out of period and angular enough a floral to be art deco.  I don't think I'll ever get around to using it as a sheer crinoline era dress - my original vision - but I can get use from the fabric now. I still might have 10metres left at the end so we'll see if I can have my cake and eat it too.

I'm borrowing a pattern - mainly cos I refuse to have bare arms as my shoulders are narrow and my arms and bust are not. It makes me feel uncomfortable and I can't quite see this fabric in the dress pattern I have (Past Patterns 3212, a 1925-26 dress) or maybe I should.  I'm borrowing a Vintage Vogue pattern 2535 from Desir Brulant, which has a capelet to cover my upper arms.

Now I'm flip flopping on the pattern to use.  I'm not usually so indecisive, so it shows that i can't see myself in this era.



Monday, 18 January 2016

picking my fabric and dress pattern for January

I had chosen a 1930s pattern for this fabric, but it's been impossible to find a dark contrast for the collar.  I definitely don't want white, as white makes me look unwell and I've looked for at least 5 years to find a suitable match. Time to use update my thinking for the fabric and chose another pattern.


I looked at my vintage patterns, and fabrics and have picked this Home Journal pattern as being most likely to work with the swiss cotton fabric. The instructions will be hilariously brief on the back of this envelope, so thankfully I've sewn from original unprinted patterns since I was in my very late teens.
























Friday, 15 January 2016

Returning from an unplanned hiatus (aka blogging break)

2015 wasn't the best year ever, and some of those reasons lead to me taking an unplanned break from writing any posts ... even when I had things to share. I'm putting notes in a 2016 happiness jar so that on the less pleasant days I can look back at the good things of this year.
I'm motivated to do some non-costume related sewing - I have existing deadlines for costumes and seem to leave real life clothing on the side burner.
I really prefer wearing dresses in summer - and some wrap dresses in winter too. Plus I have plenty of fabric and patterns.  I look back and remember wearing dresses all the time, and can't quite figure out why I stopped making them for so long. 
So I'm hoping to keep myself productive and motivated by setting my own challenge for the year - making a new real life dress each month this year.
First up was going to be my new strawberry print fabric, which I thought will be made in a 70s retro pattern I bought on ebay about 3 years ago. BUT yesterday the eternal magpie within within spotted another 50s mail order pattern on The Ebay so bid for it and won it today. Now I'll have to wait for it to fly across the pacific to my grabby hands before I can use it for the strawbs print.
So, now I have to select another fabric and pattern for January.
 ummmm.

ummmmmm, I need to put my thinking hat on.

Friday, 18 September 2015

regency stays research free on Foundations Revealed

A couple or 5 years ago I got a major nerd bee in my bonnet about regency stays, so I strip mined every online museum collection that I could find, and crunched the numbers.  A bit like my recent "they did wear colours in regency" nerdgasm, but back then it took hours and days over weeks to search & list & scrutinise & spreadsheet, not just 1 crazy night with pinterest. Partly because Pinterest didn't even exist when I started the research. I may not hve owned my own computer either, so I haunted my local library.  I started researching for a program part at JAFA (aussie Jane Austen Festival).  As more museums had expanded their online galleries I was able to found more garments and recrunch the analysis by the time it was published at Foundations Revealed in mid 2011.  Here's a link to the research article - recently made freely available for non subscribers.

http://foundationsrevealed.com/articles/corset-patterns/early-corset-patterns/273-regency-stays-1790-1820-part-1

I kept meaning to post a couple of extracts from it here, as the FR/YWU exclusive time (6 months from publication which can be 6 months from submission) had expired.  

The second article was about making myself stays from graph pattern of a garment owned by the Ohio Historical Society. If you're interested I can post it in a couple of segments.

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

data from single years of Costume Parisien fashion plates

Here's some quick nerd research I did on the subject of white dresses in what's called 'regency'  and it includes Jane Austen era clothing. Given Jane died in 1817 (just a few months before Princess Charlotte died in childbirth), I picked An 9 or most of 1801 when she'd have been 26. So not a young debutante and slightly on the shelf.

I sampled one single Paris fashion magazine, and the issues per year.  It's target market isn't middle class, but those with money. Napoleon became emperor in 1804. Plates were acquired and reused by other fashion magazines. So it was influential and aspirational.

I was motivated to do this by hearing a strong assertion from someone - that the only historically accurate colour for upper class women to wear at this time period is white.  

Every museum collection has been curated. That is, items have been selected or discarded for a theme, or an individuals taste, or a new direction/perspective of a new curator or what is approved by the museum board.  No museum has the space or financial resources to collect everything. Museums deaccession, to make room or money for other purchases. So each museum collection has been formed through bias. What forms that bias or consecutive possibly different bias may never be known. They are not an accurate representation of the complete past, but a blurred window on snippets of it.

I pinned all the An 9 Costume Parisien fashion plates and there are 85 different plates in the French Republic year or An 10, which was around 23-ish September 1800 to 23-ish Sept 1801.  I mention -ish because the revolutionary calendar year started on the [northern hemisphere] autumn equinox.

15 out of 85 aren't relevant as they're for menswear or bonnets, leaving 70 relevant fashion plates.

Of the dresses:
  • 36 of 70 are white gowns ... 6 of which are worn with a coloured spencer or bodice but they remain white dresses.
  • 8 of 70 are white with a coloured over shortgown/tunic
  • 21 out of 70 are a colour
  • 5 coloured gowns have a white over shortgown/tunic
One of the plates has an infant wearing a coloured (pale yellow) dress which I've not included above as it could be either male or female and isn't quite relevant.
So in that 22 Sept 1800-01 year, 51% of aspirational gowns were plain white, 49% weren't.


An 10 Costume Parisien issues contained 83 different fashion plates (so 23-ish September 1801 to 23-ish September 1802)

11 out of 83 aren't relevant as they're for menswear or bonnets, leaving 72 relevant fashion plates.

Of the dresses:
40 white dresses - of which 4 have colour motif print
9 white dresses with coloured over dress
22 colour dresses - of which 2 are print and 1 is broad stripe
1 colour dresses with white overdress

So in that 22 Sept 1801-02 year, 56% of aspirational gowns were plain white, 44% weren't.

An 11 Costume Parisien issues contained 68 different fashion plates (so 23-ish September 1802 to 23-ish September 1803)

20 out of 68 aren't relevant as they're for menswear or bonnets, leaving  48 relevant fashion plates.

Of the dresses:
24 white dresses - of which 1 has colour motif print
11 white dresses with coloured over dress
11 colour dresses - of which 1 is a narrow stripe
2 colour dresses with white overdress

One of the plates has an infant wearing a coloured dress which I've not included above as it could be either male or female.

So in that 22 Sept 1802-03 year, 50% were plain white, 50% weren't.

Anyhow, this is only a 3 year sample of inspirational/aspirational fashion images from one influential magazine.

Here are some links to not-all-white fabric Costume de Bal aka ball gowns.
https://www.pinterest.com/pin/115756652899519660/
https://www.pinterest.com/pin/115756652899519656/
https://www.pinterest.com/pin/115756652899517199/
https://www.pinterest.com/pin/115756652899519440/ same plate different bodice, not sure which is the original
https://www.pinterest.com/pin/115756652899523340/

and all white fabric Costume de Bal
https://www.pinterest.com/pin/115756652899519526/ with green trim
https://www.pinterest.com/pin/115756652899517214/ with green & purple trim
https://www.pinterest.com/pin/115756652899520320/ with buff trim
https://www.pinterest.com/pin/115756652899520282/ with printed short overskirt
https://www.pinterest.com/pin/115756652899523277/ with printed overskirt
https://www.pinterest.com/pin/115756652899520965/ with green trim

So even the 6 white fabric ball gowns have coloured trim, and there's 4 colour or colour with white underskirt Ball Gowns.  None are white on white with white trim! 

Sunday, 19 July 2015

18 month old idea realised: pillow tote

Probably not the first time it occurred to me, but early last year when I caught the train to Canberra I thought how useful a custom made pillow tote would be. I have a spendy pillow which I hate to leave at home, but equally clutching a pillow in changeable weather to/from a train or bus station has some drawbacks.  So with only the purchase of polyester webbing and grosgrain ribbon required, I made myself a tote with stash fabrics.

 I ball parked the size, and it could be reduced a little in height. I used a lightweight but crisp denim that is lime green warp and navy weft, unlike most denim which is white and navy.  I knew I wanted polyster webbing - easier to dry than cotton - but neither navy nor green was right with this fabric, so I chose a navy webbing and a green grosgrain ribbon. The ribbon was slightly narrower than the webbing so I eyeballed it in the centre and topstitched them together.  Then I edgestitched the green ribbon when I applied the handles. I didn't get it exactly even, but it's only fair to say that I was chanting "it's a quick & dirty project" as I ignored the worst of the sometimes imperfectly centred green. It's a pillow tote, and made from scratch in just over an hour including cutting out.
























 I put the zip on the side not the top, and the zip pull closing at the bottom edge. It seemed the smarter choice at the time, and as I was sick with a respiratory virus turning to bronchitis, well I can safely claim a lack of oxygen to the brain. ;)

This tote itself is intentionally NOT waterproof - easier to launder and dry if it gets grubby during travel.  However I used some waterproof fabric from a make-your-own-kite kit that I was given before 2008 and have never used to make a vibrant yellow waterproof pillow case.


It's great to use, and easy to carry, and I can even put my pjs in the waterproof pillowcase with the pillow if I need to.  So happy that I finally got this made, even if it's been a long time in the cerebral cortex.