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Wednesday, December 31, 2014

· Regency Sari Overdress ·

I talked about the construction of my dress and overgown before, but the Regency Christmas Ball we recently attended provided the perfect opportunity for some nice photos. :-)

This overdress was made from the leftover scraps of an antique sari- I absolutely love all the detail that went into this embroidery!!  It has copper thread interspersed throughout, adding depth and just a hint of glimmer. :-)

I'm quite pleased with the result, and it's fun to have a Regency outfit that is very a-typical. :-)  It's also a great way to add variety and interest to my white dress!  I like the dress, but change is a nice thing too. ;-)

Wearing rag curlers all day while traveling might not have been the most glamorous option, but having curls that were impervious to dancing was well worth it! ;-)

I was so excited to finally embellish my turban with wheat!  Ever since seeing this fashion plate, I knew I needed to try this out sometime. :-)
And I'm realizing that I needed to do a little more primping to the wheat next time- I always forget that while I'm sitting in the van it is getting squashed by the roof. :-P  Ah well.  Just imagine it in its pre-travel state- it looked remarkably like the fashion plate. ;-)

A bit of a funny story that I didn't share the first time- I was basing the overdress off a fashion plate that I had a poster of, but no details.  I wanted to share the original source on the blog with the fashion plate company name, year, etc., but had no way to start looking!

I tried looking for "Regency Overdress Fashion Plate".  No luck.  "Asymmetrical"?  No better.  "Green"? "Overgown"? "Turban"?  Nothing was helping.  I couldn't think of any technical terms to describe it, but then again- there wasn't any guarantee that the person linking to the image had any more of a technical knowledge than I did!

In frustration, I told Mom, "I'd probably be better off just searching for something like "Regency Drapey Bits"!!

Well, guess what?  That's all it took.  There, waiting near the top of my search was the fashion plate.

I have now officially given up on technical search terms.

The culprit- La Belle Assemblee, April 1811
Regency Drapey Bits

It's so easy to see the Grecian influences of the time period in this style!

The Warner Theater, although technically around 125 years too late for this outfit, was still a stunning location!  I'm looking forward to giving this outfit another outing this weekend!

· Photos by Kathryn ·

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

· Merry Christmas! ·

via Pinterest
Merry Christmas to all my readers!  I'm *hoping* for some snow today that might last through until Christmas Day (might as well dream big, right?), but even if it doesn't I'm looking forward to celebrating with family and then a trip to Williamsburg later this week. :-)

via Pinterest
I've been sucked into the black hole of 1950s Christmas cards lately and can't get enough!
Check out my Pinterest board for even more. :-)

via Pinterest
In the spirit of these adorable cards, may your Christmas fashions be full of full skirts, polka dots, candy stripes, big bows, and fluffy fur! :-)

via Pinterest
Merry Christmas!

What are your Christmas Eve/Christmas Day traditions?

Saturday, December 20, 2014

· Miss L Fire Shoes for Sale! ·

· Edited to add- These shoes are no longer available, thanks for all the interest! ·

Back when I got my Miss L Fire shoes, there was a mix-up with the sizing and I ended up getting a pair a size too large! :-(

Anyway, not all stories have to end poorly- so my loss can be your gain!

Before I even had the chance to wear them out of the house, it was clear they wouldn't fit.  I ended up getting another pair the correct size, but that means that I now have an extra pair.  I am going to list them on eBay in a month, but I wanted to offer them to all of you first, so you can get a better deal by skipping any bidding wars. :-)

Here are the details:

Miss L Fire shoes- "Mildred"
European size 39 (US size 8.5-9)
Worn only once, no damage (The only time they were worn were for taking these pictures.  I walked indoors for 2 minutes before realizing they were just too large)
Comes with all original packaging- box, cute tissue paper, and travel bag!

Sold out!
Shipping cost TBD (whatever it costs to ship to you! I'm happy to do international shipping as well)

To clarify once again, the shoes I'm selling are these pictured, NOT the pair I have been wearing all fall! :-)  The shoes for sale are NEW.

I'll be listing these on eBay in a month, so let me know ASAP if you're interested!  I have been so very pleased with my other pair- they are wonderful shoes!

To contact me, please leave a comment with your email address- I moderate all comments before publishing, so I'll contact you through that and delete your comment instead of publishing.  Your email address will stay private.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

· Christmas Lights Dress ·

Everyone needs at least one silly, festive dress they can only wear one month of the year, right? ;-)

When I found this fabric last year, it was just too, too perfect not to buy!  I love how festive it is with the Christmas lights, but has a quirky retro feel and a broad color scheme that goes beyond the typical red and green.

As it turns out, this fabric has just the right colors to coordinate with the majority of my sweaters and hats!  It was hard to limit this post to just one form of accessorizing!

In fact, this sweater, which was really only made to go with one dress, matches smashingly!  Unexpected coordination is the best. :-D

It's a good thing this dress is so cute, because it caused me far more than its fair share of frustration on the construction front!

The fabric was a bit more expensive than I wanted it to be, so when I purchased it, I didn't want to get too much.  Yeah, you can already tell where this is going.... :-P  Anyway, the pattern book at the store called for 3 1/2 yards, so I added 1/2 yard to match up the design.  When I got home, I discovered that the pattern book had a typo.  I didn't need 3 1/2 yards, I needed 4 1/2!  Not good at all.  Hindsight being what it is.... I really should have realized that a flared skirt and 3/4 length kimono sleeves would take more than 3 1/2 yards.... but I didn't.

So there I was, with 4 yards when I needed 4 1/2- 5.  And then I discovered that the fabric design repeat that I assumed was 4" was really 13".  Really not good.

So I went back to the store in hopes of more fabric- but they were completely sold out.  Everywhere.

That was a bad day.

And yet, here I am with a success story!  I really don't know how on earth it all fit on to the fabric without an inch to spare.

Or how the pattern matched up everywhere.  It was just one of those "God was looking out for me and I'm blessed beyond measure" sorts of days.  So I guess you could even go to the extent of saying that this dress was Providential! ;-)

This dress was made using one of my favorite patterns- Butterick 5605.  I had to leave off the back skirt pleats due to the fabric issues, and I changed the neckline a bit and added a peter pan collar.

Not only could I barely fit the dress on, but I had *just* enough leftover to make a belt too!

Since my haircut, I've been able to wear lots of our hats that previously didn't work.  I was so, so pleased that I could wear this hat now and that it goes perfectly with this dress!!

The best part of the haircut has definitely been the ability to wear all of our vintage hats!  There were far too many fun ones that were languishing previously!

An unexpected aspect of the fabric issue was that I now needed a center front seam on the bodice.  There was no way to get the pattern to match, and I knew that just leaving it in a glaringly non-matched state was completely unacceptable.  I happened to think of putting on a faux placket with rick-rack trim, and it ended up being so much better than my original "plain jane" plan!  Turns out that it was best to not have enough fabric after all!  Positively Providential! :-)  I thought about adding buttons to the placket, but nothing added the right touch, or else it ended up limiting my accessorizing ability too much.

Since I can really only wear this dress from Black Friday through Twelfth Night, I try to make sure it gets as many outings as possible.  And given how much I love it- that's not hard to do! ;-)

· Thanks for the pictures, Kathryn! ·

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

· Yet another Simplicity 1587 ·

.....This time, for me!

This year, I've been stretching my concepts of my "normal" wardrobe a bit.  Just like my tastebuds change over the years, so does my fashion taste.  I feel like I'm in a bit of a transition period, so I'm trying to stretch my ideas, think outside my usual, and discover what my new normal is. :-)

Hence, purchasing plaid I used to hate.  And now, making a 1940s dress even though I used to dislike the decade.

This summer, I was making lots of dresses from Simplicity 1587- Kathryn got 2 dresses from it (seen here and here) and I made one for a customer as well!  I had always been partial to the interesting neckline, but after making 3 versions of it I got to the point where I could practically make it in my sleep.

Over the past year, I've become more accepting of 1940s fashion, so I was willing to give the decade a chance.  This dress seemed like a great chance to give it a whirl and see what happened. ;-)

I was desperately in need of several new church dresses, so this seemed like a good time to buy some new rayons to try stretching myself!

As you can see, it ended up snowing on the day of our photoshoot, so pictures of just the short-sleeved dress didn't sound very pleasant. ;-)

I'm not sure I'm still terribly fond of the dress, but I do rather like it with these accessories, so it seemed like a good compromise anyway!

I'll share more detail shots of the dress in the spring when it's a bit more weather-appropriate!

My ADORABLE Miss L Fire shoes!!!  I love them sooooo much!  (And they're so comfortable! Bonus! ;-))

All in all, I think the dress was a mild success, even if it wasn't a rousing one.  I like it when paired with the sweater and it filled my need for slightly dressy clothing!

· Photos by Kathryn ·

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

· Hair Cut! ·

Well, this post has been 3 months in the writing, but it's finally here. ;-)

I got my hair cut!!!

I've been toying with the idea of getting a vintage cut for almost 2 years now, and through the influence of my mom, my sister, and Call the Midwife, I finally made the plunge!  It's been almost 3 months since I did it, and I'm still thrilled that I finally worked up the courage to do this!

Before and after on the day of the cut!

I've had long hair for over 15 years, and in the last 8, I've worn it "up" almost exclusively.  This was my first time getting my hair layered, and I used a vintage cutting diagram for a "middy plus"- getting it cut just like the diagram with the exception of making the layers 6" long.  Let me tell you- it's sooooo much different!  Actually, it's kind of funny to think back to how different it felt, because it already seems so normal. ;-)

Since this was my first time doing a drastic haircut like this, I really wasn't sure what I wanted so we just went with the straight-up diagram.  Now that I've lived with it for a while, I think I might do it a bit differently next time.  It's just sooooo layered in the back!  The top layers seem too short to me, so I think I'll do those longer next time.  Also, 6 inches seems so long for the front!  It doesn't help that I started at about 18" before, but I do think it's a bit limiting.  That's the benefit to hair growth though, it only gets longer! ;-)

One of my reasons for putting this off so long was because I wasn't sure I'd really be able to commit to pin-curling my hair every night.  I knew I wanted it short enough that I wasn't tempted to do my typical rolled hairstyle as an easier fall-back, so with the exception of a handful of times, I've pin-curled it every single night.  And it's a lot less arduous than I was fearing. ;-)  I've got it down to 15 minutes, and the muscle memory has kicked in and helps immensely!!

Over the last 3 months, I've been able to figure out what works and what doesn't, so now I know that my hair holds curl *really* well after pin-curling, but ONLY in dry weather.  The humidity of September was rather discouraging, but I'm loving November and December!!  I start with dry hair and slightly dampen with setting lotion on the first night, and all subsequent nights just use water for dampening.  I haven't played around with many setting patterns yet, but I feel like I've finally almost conquered this set.

Back in the humidity when the curl didn't hold as well as I'd like, I took to wearing an invisible hairnet.  It worked really well, and I loved it!  But these pictures mark a momentous occasion- my first week to successfully not wear the hairnet!  I have some OCD tendencies at times, and I've been trying to break myself of some of the odder ones.  Like wearing sandals- I do.not. like the feel of anything on my bare feet except for socks.  It takes great effort to not wear socks year-round, but I felt like that was something I needed to let go.  So too, wearing my hair down.  Ugh, I really hate not having every hair *just so*.  I don't like the unpredictability that comes with wind, grabbing babies, rain, bad hair days, etc.  And the feel of hair on my neck/shoulders/face....!  AGH!  But I also really hate being limited by this silly obsession.  Enter: Hair cut.  I'll just force myself to get over it. ;-D  The hairnet was also a great transition step, since it was technically down, but also completely contained and mostly impervious to messing up.  The hairnet still works well for bad hair days, but as long as this dry weather lasts and good hair days allow, I'll be stretching my comfort zone. ;-)

One of the things I've been most excited about is finally being able to wear all of our vintage hats!  My previous style worked well for most of them, but there were several (this furry confection included!) that just didn't work before.  Problem solved. :-)

All in all, I'm so glad I finally did this!  I still have so far to go, but I'm excited to be on the way to reaching my goals!

· Photos by Kathryn! ·

Friday, November 28, 2014

· Sale this Weekend! ·

I hope you are all having a lovely Thanksgiving weekend!  We had a wonderful day with family yesterday, and I'm looking forward to decorating our house for Christmas this weekend and finally breaking out the Christmas music. :-) 

This past week, Kathryn was visiting for 6 days crammed full of regency-ball-gown-making, Call-the-Midwife-watching, stay-up-way-too-late/early, and blog-photo-taking!  I'm excited to share the pictures we took over the next few weeks. :-)

To help with Christmas shopping, I'm running a sale all weekend long- Friday through Monday!  Just use the code BLACKFRIDAY to save 20% in Mode de Lis! (excluding custom orders)

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Masquerade Attire · Details

Our family attended a Masquerade Ball last weekend, and as it is a truth universally acknowledged that Masquerade Balls demand new attire, I subsequently felt justified in succumbing to the expectation. ;-)

We are also planning on attending a Regency ball in December, so I thought I'd make something that could do double duty!  I was really hoping for a new ball gown, as I've worn my white dress innumerably and to a significant number of dances/balls.  However, nothing period-appropriate presented itself in the stash....  So, it was back to the drawing board.  I pulled out all of the suitable fabrics, and the leftover scraps from a previous project were terribly tempting!  My sister had a Titanic dress made from this antique sari 2 years ago (you can see her in one of these pictures), and I've always been severely jealous of it.  The scraps leftover were very minimal and oddly shaped, but included a few fairly long pieces of border.

Enter- odd regency overdresses.  What a lifesaver!  It was a relief to know that whatever I scrapped together from the pieces would probably end up being pretty close to period-accurate! :-P  I've greatly admired this fashion plate for years, and after draping the scraps on myself, it looked like it was ideally suited to the idea!  

La Belle Assemblee, April 1811

I didn't have enough fabric length to make the skirt as long as the fashion plate, nor could I continue the border around the hem.  However, I still was able to achieve asymmetrical, drapey fun-ness! ;-)

Well, please bear with me on these photos. ;-)  They definitely aren't up to "Kathryn Caliber", but they'll do for now.  I've given up trying to find the best place to take pictures in our house, so Cluttered Backgrounds and Clashing Walls will have to be ignored. ;-)  I'll get official pictures taken at a later date, but I wanted to share the details about this dress while it was still new!

I couldn't find any pictures of evidence for the back of these asymmetrical overdresses, so I made the executive decision to have a pleated skirt like most regency gowns.

Oh, and please pardon the fit!  Unsurprisingly, my dressform does NOT work well with garments that were made to be worn with stays! :-P

The bodice is made from a continuous scrappy piece of the "pallu" portion of the sari.  It only required this tiny bit of piecing under the arm- otherwise it was the perfect size!  Apparently, this was meant to be! :-)

Oh, this just really doesn't fit the dressform!!  But here's how I chose to close it- the under-layer of the front is finished off at the waistline and closes on the side with a hook-and-eye.  The top portion then comes over the top and closes with a hook-and-bar.

I applied a piece of border onto the front skirt and gathered the closure edge to keep as much of the trim intact and visible as possible.

Since the neckline was formed by the border, it required a dart on the shoulder to provide shaping.  The fashion plate looked like it had gathering at the shoulder, and that ended up providing a more precise fit as well!  I love it when stuff works out like that. :-)

While working on this, I decided I'm a big fan of asymmetrical garments.  I only had to sew half of the usual darts and only 1 armhole! ;-)  So fast and easy!

I just really love this sari!!  It's hard to get the pictures to accurately reflect the true colors- it is more green than it appears in most of these.  The embroidery is so pretty, and the almost purple-ish bits are copper embroidery.  The level of detail is amazing and I'm so glad I was able to showcase it another project!

The entire gown was draped by my fabulous (and very patient!) mother. :-)  Due to the nature of the design, but especially the fabric limitations!, there wasn't any way of patterning it besides draping.

And of course I took the opportunity to make a new turban. :-)

My turban was made from some more scrap fabric!  Three cheers for stash-busting!!  We purchased this lovely blue/green velvet and made a cape from it, but had quite a few random scraps.  I previously made a purse and regency sleeveless spencer (as yet unphotographed! I'll have to get around to that soon....), but one can't have too many accessories from this fabric! ;-)  I decided to go the route of a fully-fashioned turban, since the backside of the velvet is light green and wouldn't look good if it peeked out during the wrapping process.

I used a cheap straw hat, cut off the brim, and bound the edge.  Then I cut a rectangle long enough to cover the hat and wide enough to allow for some pleating.  Then I randomly stretched and pleated it in place and sewed 3/4" from the edge to keep it all in place.

(Oh, and a note to the wise- pleating the velvet added a lot of bulk to the circumference of the hat, so make sure your hat starts out at least an inch bigger than you want it to finish!  I ended up taking a bit of a detour to stretch out my hat and re-bind the edge to give much-needed room. ;-))

In order to hide all the raw edges of velvet, I attached a lining- just a simple rectangle gathered up at the top.

I had grand ideas of following a fashion plate for ideas on how to drape my turban, but it wasn't coming together nicely, so I just went with something super simple.  I sewed 2 rectangles into tubes- they were about 5-7" longer that the circumference of the hat and about 15" around, I think.  I twisted them around each other and finished off the ends.  I tacked the twists in place around the hat in a few areas, and it was done!

The complete arbitrariness of this project was... stretching.  I don't really like "randomly pleating" things.  And "tacking in just a few areas" drives me a bit batty.  I like to sew everything *very* securely. :-P

The feathers are just basted so they can be easily replaced with a different ornamentation later.  All the info I've come across seems to indicate that peacock feathers were rather taboo in the period.  However, I have a deep and abiding love for them, so since we were attending a masquerade, I made a concession and stretched my ideals of accuracy a bit to have a peacock-themed outfit. ;-)

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Family Heirlooms · Antique Twin Baby Dresses

We don't have very many antique garments from our extended family, but my meager collection grew exponentially this year!

When my paternal grandmother's twin sister, Aunt Daisy, died earlier this year, the family cleaned out her home over the course of several months.  We went over several times to sort what to keep and what to donate, and we were able to get several vintage accessories to remember her by. :-)  Near the end, Mom went over one day to pick up her sewing machine and happened to notice a box of donations containing old kitchen towels.  Upon closer examination, she noticed that it also contained baby clothes!  She brought the box back home and it was like Christmas. :-D

I have a fond spot for vintage baby/children's clothing and the family connection made them even more special!  However, the best part of it all was that there were still a few "twin" outfits together!  I don't know how often they wore coordinating clothing, but judging by the pictures that survived, I don't think it was often, if ever.  I think the remaining "un-matching" dresses were just Aunt Daisy's share of the saved baby clothes.  I thought it would be fun to share the matching outfits I have today! :-)

I got several white dresses like these, but these 2 are my only matching set.

Look at all those pin tucks!  They're all machine sewn, but sooooo tiny!  The tag says, "Hand Made" (like many of the other dresses) so I think these were purchased rather than home-made.

The sleeves are so adorable- I just can't get over all the detailing that goes into these antique dresses!  Impossibly tiny!  The center front of the hem is embellished with a little bit of embroidery.

The middle button on the back is missing- ironically both dresses are missing the same one!  Makes me wonder if that one just got more stress than the others?  All the buttonholes are made by hand, as well as the embroidery.

There were also a few slips, including a matching set! :-)

I love how even though they're just slips, they still have a little bit of embroidery and a detailed scalloped edge. :-)  I'm pretty sure all the edging was done by hand, but I'm not positive on that.  The sheer amount of work that goes into all these baby garments is astounding and inspiring!

The slips close with buttons on the shoulder, but amusingly- all of the buttons are different!  I don't know if that's original or replaced. ;-)

There were also these sweet toddler dresses!  So, so cute.  The twins were born in 1927, so these dresses are from the late 20s or early 30s.

I'm pretty sure they're made from silk, but they are in need of some more special repairing than the rest of the clothing.  They are still intact, but there are several seams that have come out and some fraying and tiny holes.  I suspect that these were worn several times, just due to the evident wear.

I love this idea of alternating pin tucks and regular tucks! :-)

The dresses are very simple- a tunic style with a snap closure on the left shoulder and the neck band closing with a bow.  They are embellished with a small embroidery motif around the hem.

I suspect that they are home-made due to the lack of tags, but mainly due to the difference in hemming- one dress has a simple hem, the other is faced in lightweight cotton!

I have several more of Aunt Daisy's baby dresses to share, including one that I was able to identify from her baby pictures!  I also have a couple wedding dresses, so "Family Heirlooms" is destined to become a (semi)regular feature. ;-)

I was originally planning on doing my post this week about my new costume for a Masquerade Ball we're attending this Saturday.  But then I remembered that several of the attendees are also blog-readers, so I won't be able to retain my element of surprise if I divulge the details before the event!  So, sorry.  Now all the rest of you will have to wait a week or two to see it. ;-)

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