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Saturday, September 27, 2014

Accessorizing · Regency Chemisette

I've mentioned before in my Regency posts about my love for my chemisette, so I thought it would be fun to have some pictures highlighting the difference it really makes in the overall appearance of the ensemble. :-)

I went several years before making a chemisette; my dresses were perfectly modest and pretty on their own, so I didn't think they served a practical purpose.  Little did I understand that they could serve a purely decorative one!

After wearing it for 3 years straight (and getting about 10-15 wearings in that time), I was getting tired of my blue dress.  I knew I'd like it more once I added some accessories, so I researched styles a bit and decided on a simple ruffled V-neck chemisette. 

Back when I turned 20, I decided to delay the onset of the (apparently) inevitable and concerning Boring Old Adult Syndrome by making a list of 20 historical sewing projects to complete within the year.  Well, I'm happy to report that in that year and the successive ones, I don't *think* I've yet succumbed to BOAS!

However, I never did complete the list- so does that mean I've become boring without even knowing it?! ;-)

The list, although rather silly in origin and of dubious necessity, did serve some purpose as one day I finally decided to cross something off the list and make a chemisette!  It was end of Daylight Savings Time, so I had an extra hour on Sunday morning before church to whip it up. ;-)  The fabric came from a curtain obtained at a free garage sale which has provided fine, semi-sheer fabric for many a project. :-)

 This chemisette has proved to be a rather versatile style!  Seeing how much I love it- I think another style should make it on the priority list! ;-)


.... and After!  It works well with the cross-over neckline as well. :-)

My blue dress is a simple, pretty style.....

....but the accessories really bring it to life!

I always liked my white dress....

.....but now I love it. :-)  On this dress I like to wear it pulled out wide to the front neckline, to give more of a "ruff" look.

The one thing I would change about the chemisette is how the ruffle droops a bit in the back.  I think it might be too full?  Or else needs to be made of a stiffer fabric- starching hasn't helped at all. :-/  Ah well, that's life- always room for improvement. :-)

Saturday, September 20, 2014

· My Very Own White Regency Dress ·

Here's another "from the archives" dress!  This dress was made back in 2009 in preparation for a trip to England.  I wanted a new dress for the Jane Austen Festival in Bath, and I knew it was high time that I finally had my very own White Regency Dress.

I knew they were rather overdone and a dime a dozen, but I just couldn't resist the siren call....  I tried to add more details and think outside the box a bit so that it wasn't too predictable. ;-)

There was a gown in Kyoto Costume Institute's "Fashion" book that really spoke to me.  I loved the vandyke trim and how unusual it was!  I also noticed that a center front skirt decoration was rather common in many garments I saw, so I wanted to be sure to incorporate that.

I knew I wanted short sleeves so that it could be ball-suitable, but I was making it in my Puffy Sleeve Phobia phase. (I'm glad I grow out of most phases, because this one in particular proved to be a bit of a handicap at times! :-P)  I discovered a fashion for smooth short sleeves though, so that's what I ended up doing!  I am still rather fond of the look, and I like how they're a bit uncommon for most reproductions. :-)

The dress is yet another bib-front gown- I really do like those!  I made it like I did my block-print gown, which you can read about here.  The added bonus to bib-fronts is that they're super adjustable! ;-)

The fabric was an embroidered voile from JoAnns that added a nice textural interest.  I made the trim from a strip of plain voile and folded it into the vandyke points.

This necklace is just a vintage paste stone necklace from an antique mall.  I really don't recall how historically accurate it is for Regency, but I think it's pretty anyway. ;-)

The skirt is also trimmed with vandyke points, however these are all made separately and handstitched on.

I was glad the skirt wasn't super full. ;-)

This dress closes with Dorset buttons made by my mom. :-)  I love all the white-on-white textures and visual interest in this shot!

Also, I'm wearing this dress with my trusty Old Faithful- my chemisette.  I'll be doing a post next week highlighting what a huge difference it makes in the way these dresses look!  I just really love it. :-D

Due to the fashionably narrow back, the sleeves are gathered tightly between the shoulder and side-back seams to allow for the needed motion.  It does a remarkably good job, while not looking oddly puffy when my arms are in their normal position.  I always think it's fascinating to discover the fashionable ideals from a period, and then see their ways of accomplishing the sometimes nearly-insurmountable physical obstacles! ;-)

I wanted the dress to be on the shorter side to show off my shoe lacing and I'm rather fond of the look! :-)

And of course, I'm wearing it with my turban.  Because everyone needs more excuses for turbans.
Mine was made using Lynn McMasters' Padded Turban Tutorial using leftover scraps from my Sari Dress.  Since I made it, I've ended up just wrapping shawls into turbans most of the time instead of wearing this one.  After wearing this again though, I remember how much I do like it. :-)

Back when I made it in 2009, I was a bit young for a turban and was advised by a Much More Well-Informed Woman to wait until I was 21 before I wore them.  I was thrilled when I finally turned 21. :-D

Of all the things 21 brings- turbans are the best, I think.

· Huge thanks to Kathryn for taking these pictures twice!  I didn't like the way I looked the first time (humidity is my Greatest Nemesis!!), and she was a super kind and obliging friend and re-did them for me. :-) ·

My friends are much too nice sometimes. ;-)

Saturday, September 13, 2014

The Year of the Polka Dots · Orange

I have had an unavoidable love for Everything Orange this year.  It's rather unusual, since I never had such an affection for orange before!  When we found this polka dot fabric at the same time as my navy, I knew it was just the sort of addition I was needing for my summer wardrobe this year!

If you'll remember from my navy dress, I wanted to be sure that the two dress would be quite different from each other- almost down to every detail while both being quintessentially 1950s.  Well, I think I came close enough to call it a success. ;-)

My facebook followers might remember seeing a sneak preview of this dress way back in July.  I finished it up on my Texas trip, and it's been a much-loved wardrobe staple already.  I really don't know how I survived all those years without polka dot dresses!  Such a travesty!

On my navy dress, I didn't bother paying attention to matching up the polka dots, and I think I'm sorry I didn't.  So, I did penance for my past failures by making sure to keep the polka dots in mind on this one. ;-)  There weren't too many places where it was necessary to match them up, but I matched them across the front and made sure to place the buttons on top of dots.  If I'm being picky, the front would have been better if I didn't have just a sliver of white showing on the overlap, but lesson learned for next time. ;-) 

The wing cuffs on this dress were something I'd been meaning to do for a while now!  I put them on one of my very first 1950s dresses and loved them, but that dress died last year. :-(  So, it was high time for a replacement!

The necklace was from my Aunt Daisy's house, and while I don't ever recall her wearing anything remotely like it- it's a great vintage-look-a-like! :-)

I like how the white cuffs tie in well with the white belt, necklace, hat, and buttons and keep the whole dress very balanced.

This belt was such a Providential finding!  I knew I needed a white belt for this dress, preferably a wide one at that.  However, I don't usually buy belts or frequent thrift stores, so I was going to be starting from scratch- hoping that the very first shopping trip would yield a result that was at least temporarily acceptable.  And I'm really cheap.  So it would have to be something in the $2-3 range, unless I absolutely loved it.  A tall order, I know.

But, lo and behold- at the very first thrift store we went to.... there it was.  My size.  Just waiting.  It is in the process of deteriorating, so I wasn't sure if it would be the wisest choice.  After thinking about it for a couple minutes, I realized that all the belts at the store were only 10¢.  Yeah.  I think I can swing that. ;-)

Considering that it is deteriorating, a replacement will have to be located eventually.  Anyone know of a site that sells a belt like this?  After seeing how much I like this one I'm more than OK with raising my price range from my previous one. ;-P  If it's a good quality belt, I'd be willing to pay more for that, as well.

These buttons were so fun- I love how they had slits instead of the typical holes!  I'm not sure if this is the way you're really supposed to use them.... but it worked well for me. :-)  I cut strips of fabric to make loops and then attached the loops to the dress.  Also, I'm still enjoying making bound buttonholes. :-)  Not sure I'm making much improvement anymore, but at least I'm getting practice...!

The neckline was based on a vintage pattern I've been admiring for years, but the bodice pattern itself was giving me fits.  I pulled out my super-trusty, brand-new kimono bodice sloper, added the neckline.... and it worked!  Usually I have trouble with my slopers fitting the second time around, so I've just been starting from scratch with every dress until now.  I'm so glad this one has made me happy each time! :-)

I've been a big fan of high necklines this summer- I was always more of a wide neckline girl, but they just seem perfect this year!  Part of that might be the fact that they greatly decrease my risk of sunburn and my need for sunscreen. ;-)

I wanted the skirt on this dress to be nice and full, so I used Butterick 5813, using the pleated skirt pieces on both the front and the back.  The result- a flared, pleated skirt that's just right!!  I love it! :-D  I usually find that full-circle skirts are really unreliable and "breezy" feeling, and since it can get rather gusty here, I try to avoid them in lightweight fabrics.  The pleats at the waistline keep the skirt feeling safe during normal wear, but still allow for twirling. ;-)

· Photos by Kathryn ·

Saturday, September 6, 2014

· Polka Dot Day! ·

Three years ago, Kathryn, Tara, Gretel, and I decided to start doing the "Decade Project"- an excuse to get the 4 of us dressed up in the same decade and make an occasion out of it with a photo shoot and ice cream. :-)

Our plan was to start at the 1950s and work back a decade each year.  Last year was the 1940s, however a few members *ahem* of the group are a little reluctant for the 1930s and our plans for a winter shoot never worked out.  But after looking at our 1950s pictures from 3 years ago, we felt like we could improve upon it in several ways. (of course, we feel like that with our 1940s pictures too, but I think that will happen with every shoot!)  We felt like we should just keep going with the original schedule, but when we all had 1950s polka-dot dresses and were already all in one place, it just begged to happen anyway. ;-)

The first stop of the day was Steak 'n' Shake, due to their period-inspired decor! :-)  We had quite the captive audience when we walked in, unsurprisingly. ;-)

After our burgers and fries we needed our traditional ice cream, so we ordered milkshakes up at the bar!  They were so good, and we all had a blast!

(Got to love that photo-bombing waiter!  He wanted to be in on the fun. ;-))

And then it was on to the next part of our outing, and the part we had been planning for a while!  When we do photo shoots, we typically can't think of poses so we decided to take our inspiration from period sources. ;-)

For the remainder of the Decade Project we had decided to go with more historically-accurate posing, so we looked up era-appropriate ads that featured 4 people from the 1950s.  It ended up being not too terribly difficult to find more than enough!  Yet another reason to love Pinterest.... ;-)

This picture was hilariously accurate of our personalities, so it was a must-recreate!  Tara has a dog, Gretel is OK with dogs, but Kathryn and I both have a marked disdain for all canines.  The fact that we were supposed to look unimpressed only required partial acting. ;-)

The downside to these photos was that it was just the 4 of us out there.  Consequently there was a lot of running back and forth (in heels....) to start the camera timer!  Lots of bloopers were the inevitable result. ;-)

We also only had a phone to look up the reference images, so if hands are slightly off or eyes are looking in the wrong direction, I blame that. ;-)

We just used whatever areas we could find around town that were out of the way, so this one was a bit of a challenge!  The staircase was a bit narrower than the original, so we really had to squeeze in!

All in all, it was a fun experiment and I look forward to doing it again and honing our technique. ;-)  Also, a photographer and a posing assistant would be most welcome additions!

When Gretel and I were up visiting Kathryn and Tara in June, we first noticed the Polka-Dot Dress Phenomenon that had struck us all.  Gretel's and Kathryn's were already complete, I had brought my navy dress to finish, and Tara had aqua fabric and red ricrac that were waiting for inspiration!  Coordinating 1950s polka-dot dresses positively beg for a photo shoot! ;-)

I think it's fun that we all ended up serendipitously having different colors AND different sized polka dots!

The best of friends. :-)  Thanks for doing such fun stuff with us!!!

Aaaand, if that wasn't enough fun for one day the local cruise night started up just as we were finishing our photos!  Naturally we stopped by and looked around.  And took photos next to our favorites. :-)

Loved the detailing on this one, and it was such a pretty creamy yellow color!

We had lots of car owners wanting to take our pictures with their cars, but sadly no one offered to give us their car as a present...  Maybe next time. ;-)

· Photos by Kathryn ·

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