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Saturday, October 26, 2013

· Kathryn's Mint Green Dress ·

As you are no doubt aware from reading this blog, I am very, very fortunate to have such a talented friend as Kathryn!  She has encouraged me to finally get the nerve up and get around to starting a blog, and taken on the responsibility of being my Official Photographer, Webmaster, General Source of Computer Know-How, Encourager Extraordinaire, and Hand Holder.  In exchange, I make her clothes. :-)  She professes to be pleased with the arrangement (which I am thankful for!)- but really, I got the best end of the deal.  The first project I've done for her was a dress for our trip to Williamsburg this spring.

Kathryn didn't already have any 1770s clothing, so she decided on a simple linen gown with ruched trimmings.  It is made in the English style with a fitted back, and is made as a round gown.  She picked out this mint-green linen/cotton fabric.  I used the J.P. Ryan pattern, and as always- was very happy with it! :-)
Hand-hemmed trim around the neckline and sleeves- I love how the trim looks like delicate lettuce! :-)  The removable linen sleeve ruffles are attached with basting stitches, and her shift sleeve is also peeking out.  The dress closes down the center front with pins, which is hidden by the trimming.
The back En Forreau pleats are stitched down by hand.  I just love this part of a Robe a l'Anglaise!
· Pictures by Tara ·

Saturday, October 19, 2013

· Silk 1950s Dress ·

The wedding of a dear friend in August was the perfect excuse for a new silk dress. :-)  I have had this changeable dupioni for several years now, but I never had quite the right inspiration for it.  Since it is so very slubby, I really felt like it could only be used for something 1950s rather than historical.  When I saw Butterick 5880 in the book this spring, I knew it was meant to be. ;-)

This dress ended up being a big diversion from my norm- with the exception of changing the side zipper to the back and using an accent button instead of a belt, I didn't make any changes to the pattern!  This pattern really has enough drama of its own, though, and combined with the silk it really didn't need any added help! ;-)
I love the pleated drape showcases the silk's crispness.  The vintage rhinestone button adds just a bit of sparkle.  The darling hat is borrowed from Tara, but really- I think I should just permanently "borrow" it next time. ;-)

· Pictures by Kathryn ·

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

· Ironing Board Remodel ·

This is Part One in what I hope will become a series of  Sewing Room Remodel posts.  Plans are still in development for the rest of the room, but I am hopeful that I can keep sharing updates with you over the next several months. :-)

Ironing boards are one of those things that are easy to overlook.  Given the fact that we use our iron at least 2 hrs a day, our ironing board needs a permanent residence and is constantly on display.  Our board is quite a little trusty thing- going strong after almost 30 years, but sadly, Country Blue just isn't as appealing as it used to be.  The impetus to finally do something about it was the Ever Enlarging Hole that appeared on the cover.  Yes, that could easily be remedied by a trip to Wal-Mart, but who ever liked doing things the easy way??  A new cover was the perfect excuse to finally buy some fabric from the "Tailor Made" line that I've been coveting for 3 years. ;-)  Mom tackled the project; the board itself was spray-painted with a hammered bronze finish and she had the whole project completed in less than 24 hours!  I love it so much! :-)  

Now we just have to figure out the plan for the rest of the room. ;-) 

Before - Country Blue with Ugly Rubber Feet, Complete with Rust Spots and Useless Attached Bag!
The Offender.  In case you ever wondered- scissors have a knack for finding small holes and ever-so-helpfully making them larger.
After - So Much Better!
The fabric is intersecting dressforms- so cute! :-)

· Obviously Amateur Photos Courtesy of Yours Truly ·

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Past Projects · 1950s Fruit Dress

When I saw this darling border print on clearance at Hancock's a few years ago, I knew it would make a great 50s style dress.  It ended up meeting my expectations and I was happy with it, but the outfit felt like it was missing something.   Last winter, I found this necklace at an antique mall, and it proved to be the perfect touch to complete the look!  The dress has gone from being just "one of my dresses" to being "my favorite dress" with the simple addition of a necklace.  That's rather a proof of confirmation on the Importance of Accessorizing, in my book! ;-)

I added a strip of coordinating fabric at the bottom, separated by a row of ric-rac.  The sleeves were inspired by a dress I saw, and are a nice change from my normal and a great way to feature more ric-rac. :-)
I used Simplicity 3706 as a base for the bodice.  Which essentially turned into using it for the collar and draping the rest of the bodice on myself. ;-)  The skirt is just a simple dirndl style.  
The small, contrasting green buttons were the perfect touch!

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Past Projects · Block-Printed Jacket

For our trip to Williamsburg this spring, Mom and Gretel wanted some new clothes, so we got out all the period-appropriate scraps we could find big enough to make into jackets.  While I was in the stash, I came across this hand-block-printed lawn that was left-over from a regency dress I made years ago.  It was a perfect size for a jacket, and once I found my inspiration, I set to work.  I constructed it entirely by hand (just 'cause I can! ;-) ), and used the JP Ryan pattern as a base, modifying the neckline and waistline.

The sleeve inspiration came from a V&A dress that I've been admiring for years.  It has a cuff edged with pleated trim, then looped up in front and fastened with a covered button.

This cotton voile apron was new as well- finished in Williamsburg just in time to wear. :-)  I was really happy with how it turned out, and can't wait to make some more "fashion" aprons!  The petticoat I'm wearing with it is made from "Marseilles" fabric, and it's become one of my favorites.  It has lots of body, enough so that I can even fit a loaf of bread in my pocket without it being discernible! ;-)

I wanted this jacket to stand out somehow from all my others, so I put 6 sets of ribbons down the front to tie it closed.  I love the over-exuberance of ribbony-ness that is the result. :-)  The front neckline and waistline is edged with pleated trim.

· Pictures by the inimitable Kathryn! ·

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Accessories Challenge · Hats

The "Accessorizing Head to Toe Challenge" looked like a great motivator for me, so I've decided to jump on the bandwagon!  About two years ago I really realized the importance of accessories in making an authentic, realistic outfit, so I've been attempting to slowly improve myself in that regard. :-)  I don't have a specific outfit in mind for the project, just whatever era(s) need attention.  Since September's theme was hats, I had lots of grand plans!  After a last-minute, week-long trip out of state, I was a week short on my initial expected-time-frame for the project, but that's why it's a challenge, right?? ;-)

· 18th Century ·

 For our trip to Williamsburg this fall, I knew I needed to address my hat situation.  I tend to get distracted by new jackets, dresses, etc. when it's time to gear up for Williamsburg, but I only have one hat to wear.  As you can see, this situation was in dire need of rectification!  

We had 3 hats that didn't meet my sartorial standards for trimming, so my challenge was to trim them acceptably. :-)  I was rather overwhelmed by trimming these hats, because I didn't want to fall into the rut of making identically decorated hats.  A Fashionable Frolick was a great one-stop resource for some quick ideas- thanks Rebecca and Ashley! :-) I wired the edge of both of the straw hats with 16 gauge wire- maybe a bit overkill, but I unexpectedly discovered it a couple years ago, and I love how it gives the brim enough weight so that it is not as easily caught by the wind! :-)

I covered one of the straw hats with silk, since I wanted a dressier hat, and then trimmed it with 2 inch wide ivory ribbon.  Please don't look closely at this one.  It was *ahem* a learning project.  The next one will go better- right?? ;-)

(And, just in case you're thinking the same thing my family said.... I can assure you that all of the pleats are precisely even.  OK, maybe there's a margin of 1/8" for one or two of them.  The seams on the other hand....were not completely thought through first. :-P)

The felt hat was trimmed with 6 yards of coral ribbon.  I love the prolific fluff. ;-) 

 The last hat....well.  It's a glimpse into reality. ;-)  I was packing supplies to sew the hats on a car trip and my initial idea for the third hat ended up being changed once I got inspiration from making the other two.  The necessary silk organza and decorations were at home and unavailable before the deadline.  So, instead I just did all the "grunt work" of sewing on the tying ribbons and the ribbon covering the wired edge.  I'll do the fun, quicker decorations at a future date. :-)  

The jury is still out on whether or not these hats will ultimately be deemed acceptable- I am notoriously difficult to please, and colonial hats tend to be the bane of my existence.  I feel like I still don't know how to achieve the look I'm aiming for, but I hope I'll get there eventually and this challenge was a step in the right direction. :-)

The Accessory:  3 18th century Hats
Historical Period:  1770s and 1780s
Outfit It Accessorizes:  All of my 18th century outfits
Materials Used:  2 Straw Hat Blanks, 1 Felt Hat Blank, Wire for Edges of Straw Hats, Ribbon to Cover Wired Edge, Silk to Cover One Hat, Ribbon Trimmings for Each
Techniques Used:  Sewing

· 1930s ·

I really love 1930s fashions, but finding appropriate hats is so much more difficult than for the 1950s!  Add in the fact that I have a big head (literally, as well as figuratively. ;-) ), and finding affordable and available 30s hats to wear becomes frustratingly difficult.  My hope is that I'll be able to make my own hats, so this was my first venture into previously uncharted territory. :-)  I found this hat at an antique mall and after seeing all of Nabby's amazing re-makes, I thought it looked like the ideal candidate for reshaping!  I soaked it for a few hours, and then put it on my head and pulled it into the shape I wanted.  Super easy!  I used my Sears' Everyday Fashions book as my source for inspiration, and used wave clips to hold the ridge on the crown in place while it dried.  Those wave clips are just sooo handy!!  After a few hours, the hat had completely dried and I stitched a length of grosgrain ribbon inside as a hat band, to help it keep its shape.  I wired the edge and finished it off more cleanly than it was previously, and then attached the ribbon trimming to finish it off.  And yes, I used hot glue for the decoration.  I know- the horrors!  But it was finished so quickly!  Well, that is until I realized that I had made my hat band too small...  So much for finally having a hat that fit my head. :-/  Soooo, off came all that ribbon and hot glue (which, incidentally, takes about 500 times longer to get out of all the nooks and crannies of the hat than it takes to put on. :-P) and on went the correctly sized hat band and all of the trimmings.  The project was still done before 10:30 PM though, so I deem it a success. ;-)

The Accessory:  Straw 1930s Hat
Historical Period:  1930s
Outfit It Accessorizes:  In Particular, a 1930s dress I haven't shared here yet; but In General, I hope it will coordinate with future 30s outfits, too.
Materials Used:  Straw Hat, Grosgrain Ribbon for Hat Band, Wire for Edge, Ribbon for Decoration
Techniques Used:  Reshaping, Sewing, Hot-gluing

· 1950s ·

I've known that I needed a lemon-trimmed hat since I first bought some lemon fabric 2 1/2 years ago.  But, being the nit-picky and agonizing OCD person that I am, I never got around to it.  So, this challenge was just the incentive I needed. :-)  I had contemplated buying vintage millinery lemons on Etsy for over 2 years, but I never worked up the courage to hit "buy".  When I went antique shopping in July and came across some identical ones, it seemed to be a sign.  I wasn't sure what kind of hat I should put them on, as we didn't really have any that seemed to be quite right.  I must have overlooked this hat somehow, as it seems to be ideally suited to the current trimmings. :-)  The lemons didn't come with any leaves, so I commandeered some from a garland we had and then trimmed them to the appropriate shape. ;-)  A little bit of leftover ribbon became the perfect finishing touch.  I can't believe it took this long to get around to this- it's such a cute hat now!!

The Accessory:  Lemon-Trimmed Hat
Historical Period:  None in Particular, although I intend to wear it with 1950s styled outfits
Outfit It Accessorizes:  1950s Lemon-Print Dress I haven't shared here yet.
Materials Used:  Straw Hat, Lemons, Leaves, Ribbon
Techniques Used:  Sewing, Trimming Leaves


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