Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Color of the Month - Emerald Green

To celebrate the month of May, (and my birthday and my sister's) here are some images of green clothing and accessories.

Gown from 1770-80 - The Philadelphia Museum of Art
A dress form 1902-03 - The Los Angeles County Museum of Art

Dress, 1926 - The Philadelphia Museum of Art
I love this bathing suit top with the little yellow fish! Even though its knit, I think the design is perfect for summer!

Bathing Suit Top by Elsa Schiaparelli, 1928
Late 1930s/early 1940s sewing pattern

1930s green velvet evening dress
A 1950s prom dress - The Style Hive
1950s green chiffon cocktail dress

1960s hat on from bluebutterflyvintage on Etsy
1960s shoes from stickylipgloss on Etsy

Emeralds are the birth stone for May so let's not forget Elizabeth Taylor's fabulous collection of gems.

The Jewellery Editor
The Jewellery Editor

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Just in time for Memorial Day

I've been following Sew Weekly for awhile now and have really enjoyed seeing everyone's completed projects. This week's theme was the 1940s and I knew I had to make something. This winter I purchased a great 1940s suit and made a pattern from the skirt.

The pattern has five pieces; one back piece with the pleat cut on the fold. Two side back pieces, one center front, and a waistband. I a lovely leftover piece of cranberry wool and as you can see in the picture below, I had just enough for the skirt.

The center back seam was stitched first and then the pleat was set. Next I attached the side back pieces and finally the front. There is a 6" zipper on the left side of the skirt and a snap on the waistband. I need to make a few minor adjustments to the pattern but over all I'm happy with it and will certainly wear it again.

Cori and I took our annual trip to Quechee Gorge Village today to check out the antique store so I thought I would wear the skirt. I didn't have a chance to iron the skirt so please forgive the frumpy looking seams.

My Vintage Visions vintagevisions27.blogspotMy Vintage Visions vintagevisions27.blogspot

This is the "Victory" pin I purchased today. I've been looking for one of these for the longest time. It was a perfect match for my new skirt! I picked up some other really neat things but I'm saving them for a separate post. :)

My Vintage Visions vintagevisions27.blogspot

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

In the Garden - Pictures Perfectly Posed

Rebecca from the Fashionable Past asked me recently about my profile picture. "It's perfectly posed and framed with the flowers in the background. Just gorgeous!" Thanks Rebecca! I though I would share the picture in a larger version along with a few others from the same day. All of the photos below were taken last April in Colonial Williamsburg. Cori and I put on our 18th century finery to attend a candle light concert at the Governors Palace.

I really don't remember which garden in Williamsburg these pictures were taken in. There are so many "hidden gems" to discover if you wander off the beaten trail. This particular garden may be one behind the Weavers.

My gown is the one I've based off Louis Rolland Trinquesse's 1774 painting, "The Music Party." I didn't have time to finish all the trim in time for the concert. Actually, it's still not completely finished. The petticoat needs trim and I need to make a new stomacher as the one in the picture was just thrown together so I could wear the gown. My black silk cape with red silk lining was made by the fabulous Hallie Larkin. I bought it because it matched the black and red bonnet she made for me.

Still trying to perfect my version of "high hair." And yes, that is all my real hair. :)

Cori is wearing a coat I made using the JPRyan frock coat pattern. It's need a little tweaking but over all I'm happy with how it turned out. His matching breeches, all hand sewn, were made during a Hive workshop with Henry Cook. The wool for both coat and breeches came from Dorr Mill Store and is some of the best I've worked with.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Prom Dress Finished at Last!

After several weeks of sewing and fittings, the prom dress I have been working on for my friend Jenn is finally finished! And just in time too, her prom is this Saturday. 

My Vintage Visions vintagevisions27.blogspot
Detail of bodice front
The dress pattern was Simplicity 3784, view C with a few modifications - Straight neckline to a sweetheart neckline, a lower, scoped back, and the addition of lace on the bodice. Here is Jenn’s sketch of the modifications (in red) and placement of the lace (in purple). Jenn purchased the dress fabric and lining material. The silver lace came from my stash.

Making the modifications to the pattern pieces was pretty simple to do. After cutting and fitting a muslin mockup, I took the piece for bodice center front, which was cut on the fold, and drew a curved line along the top edge from the side front seam to the center front. Then with the bodice center front folded in half, I cut along that line. A pretty sweetheart neckline in one simple cut! 

My Vintage Visions vintagevisions27.blogspot
Bodice front with all the lace stitched in place
The modifications to the back of the dress proved a bit more challenging. The back of the dress was fairly low to start with but Jenn wanted the center back scooped a little more. We found that removing a large portion of the back caused the bodice to “gap” in the back. The pattern called for boning in all of  the bodice seams but I wasn’t sure it would be enough to keep the dress in place. Fearing a possible wardrobe malfunction, the solution was to add some kind of tie across the center back to help pull the bodice together.
My Vintage Visions vintagevisions27.blogspot

I cut a piece of lace but quickly realized it would not be strong enough on its own. Feeling pressed for time and wanting to find a quick fix, I attached some clear elastic to the lace. This might have worked ok, but I’ll never know for sure because I accidentally melted the elastic with the iron and ruined the piece of lace. Argh! So solution # 2, which is what I should have done the first time, was to cut a new piece of lace and attach some interfacing to it. I added a length of shear ribbon behind the interfacing to give the whole piece more strength. 

Lace for center back of dress

Lace for center back of dress with the elastic ties before I melted them with the iron
The directions for assembling the dress were straight forward. The pieces for the dress and dress lining were assembled separately with the boning sewn into the bodice lining. The lining and fashion fabric were then placed right sides together, sewn along the top of the bodice and turned right side out. I added the lace to the fashion fabric before joining the dress to its lining. The bottom edge of the lace was tacked in place during one of the fitting sessions. Oh, and there is a zipper added to the back at some point along the way. Did you know you can hold your clothing together with something besides buttons and pins?!? That's nonsense! :) The vast majority of my sewing projects have been pre-1930s so I really can’t remember the last time I to put a zipper in something.

Overall the pattern was easy to work with and the directions were clear. I had to pin and baste the heck out of the fabric though because it was so slippery! Linen and wool are so much nicer to work with. Good thing I had my new dress maker's pins. Looking back on the project I can see a few things I would have done differently but I'm pretty happy with the final results. The dress looks great on Jenn and I can't wait to see her and her friends all dolled up at the Grand March on Saturday.

 As with any sewing project it's important to have proper feline supervision. This is Simba who's specialty is "holding your fabric down" and stealing the pin cushion.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Suit by Swansdown, Jr.

Suit label
I finally had the chance to download pictures from my camera today, something I've been meaning to do for awhile now. Anyway, here are some pictures of my 1950s suit that I promised to share. I also have pictures of 1930s and 1940s outfits that were taken the same time but I will save those for another post. 

The suit is wool and cashmere blend by Swansdown, Jr. of New York. It's very soft and cozy to wear. I worn the jacket to work last week and received a lot of complements. I have a reception for an art show later this week and I'm thinking of wearing the skirt with a white cardigan. I tried doing some research on Swansdown but wasn't able to find very much information online. Oh well, I did find some really cool images though. :)

Front and back views of the suit.

Me trying to be a Vogue model but failing and making a funny face instead.

Thank you Cori for your help and patience in taking pictures.

Suit by Swansdown, Jr. of New York - Twice Upon A Time

Silk Handkerchief - Morning Glorious Vintage 

Fur wrap - Prancing Horse Antiques

Hat, gloves, and pin -Thrifted

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Book Reviews and a Thank You

The new books I ordered finally arrived and I'm having a great time reading them. Lots of really great information! It will take some time to master some of the techniques described in these books but it will certainly be worth while.

For any one interested in making 1930s clothing, particularly early 1930s, Dress Cutting -- Instructions and Illustrations for Sewing 26 Vintage 1930s Fashions by Margaret Ralston is a must have. This book offers a very informative look at cutting and creating your own custom sewing patterns shown in well illustrated step-by-step sections. Starting with an exercise in taking your measurements, you learn how to create a basic skirt, blouse, and dress. Once you have a basic well fit pattern, you can adapt it to make a variety of items. I particularly like the sections on pleated and flared skirts. I was a bit disappointed when the book first arrived because it was so small, roughly 5" x 7" and only 71 pages. However, if you order this book don't let the small size discourage you! At first glance some of the sections look a bit challenging so take the time to read the book thoroughly. I'm looking forward to really using this book once I clear my sewing schedule a bit.

Westmore Beauty Book -- A Complete 1950s Guide to Vintage Makeup, Hairstyling and Beauty Techniques is a really interesting and insightful read. However, I found I needed to keep reminding myself that it is a reprint of a 1950s book. I took the "Beauty Questionnaire" at the very beginning of the book. There are 100 questions to test your knowledge and skills about makeup, health, and beauty. You add up your "Yes" answers to find your beauty score. I'm not ashamed to admit that I failed, miserably. Mainly because I almost never wear makeup so I had to answer "No" to a lot of the questions. Oh well :)

I found the section on determining your face shape pretty interesting. Once you learn what shape your face is - oval, square, triangle, etc. - you can figure out what 1950s hair styles, makeup techniques, etc. work for you. Although some of the information is a bit "dated" for today much of it is still very useful, especially for those who want to recreate the look of the 1950s.

The last book to arrive was Couture Sewing Techniques. This book has been on my wish list for awhile but I decided to finally order it after reading Lauren's review. It's a great review of a really fabulous book, check it out! This book gives a brief history of Haute Couture and the illustrations of sewing techniques included are very clear. The colored photographs are great examples of the techniques described. The sewing tips in this book can be applied to sewing projects of any time period.

I would like to say thank you to Lauren of American Duchess for including my blog in her recent post on costume blogs. It was a nice surprise to see traffic to my blog had doubled over the weekend. :)
To those of you who have just joined by blog, welcome!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Preparing for an 1812 event ... eventually

Ladies Magazine January 1812  London
As far as my living history hobby goes, my main focus is the 1750s to 1770s. However, like many of my reenacting friends, I am beginning to take a more serious interest in the early 19th century. Specifically the years 1800 to about 1820. Myself and a group of friends are working to create a new unit representing the 1st Battalion of 27th (Inniskilling) Regiment of Foot with the goal of attending the bicentennial of the Battle of Waterloo to be held in Belgium in 2015.
With the bicentennial of the War of 1812 being commemorated in New York, New England, and Canada over the next couple of years there will be many opportunities to attend related events. My first War of 1812 event will be in August at the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum.

So what exactly does that mean for me? Well, a whole new wardrobe! Which excites me and fills me with dread all at the same time. It's exciting because I love the research involved in planning a new outfit, fabric shopping, and sewing. However, I dread this task because it does mean lots of research and sewing. I'm not as familiar with the 1812 era as I am with that of the 18th century. And when I say "a whole new wardrobe", I mean exactly that. There are few items of clothing that I use for 18th century events that will work for 1812. This is because the fashions of the 18teens change drastically from those of the 1750s to 1770s.

Fashions of 1740 compared to those of 1807. Engraving by Charles Williams
Fashion plate of English and French costumes for 1815
So what will I be able to use from my 18th century clothing? The same shift - at least for now. The same stockings and handkerchiefs and that's really about it. My bonnet, mitts, and cloak are "close enough" it get me through my first events.

What will I need that's new? A shift (eventually), stays, under petticoat, gown, cap, chemisette, spencer or pelisse for cooler events, and shoes. That's a lot of sewing!

Silk damask pelisse, c.1815-20, Vintage Textiles
There are several commercial patterns available for gowns, stays, etc. Like those of any historic period, some patterns seem to be better than others. I would like to avoid purchasing new patterns so I think my plan for now will be to draft my own. I'll most likely use one of the gowns in Janet Arnold's Patterns of Fashion I. I would like to make a bib front gown as I think it will be easy to put on without assistance, although I do like the look of the gowns that close in the back. Below is a nice example of a bib front gown from Vintage Textiles.

Silk faille, bib-front dress, c.1800-1810, Vintage Textiles
Silk faille, bib-front dress, c.1800-1810
Stays will still be an issue but I've pretty much mastered the art of putting on a pair of back lacing stays by myself in a tent. :) I plan to use the pattern for stays provided by Katherine on her blog The Fashionable Past. These are closer to 1820 then 1812 but I think they be a good make do pair to get me started. Of course all this sewing will have to wait until I finish a few other projects.

For those of you who have already created 1812 era clothing I have a few questions:
-What patterns did you use (or create yourself) to make your clothing and what did you like or dislike about those patterns?
-Which type of gown do you find easier to make and/or wear (bib front or back closing)?
-What is your favorite thing about the Regency time period?

Friday, May 4, 2012

Fashions for a Day at the Races

Bodemeister, one of the favorites for the 2012 Kentucky Derby
Tomorrow is the 138th running of the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky. That means for those lucky enough to attend the Derby or for those going to a Derby party, it's time to break out your best race day attire! Hats, hats, hats!

A Google image search for Kentucky Derby hats and race day fashions turned up some really fabulous hats. (And some absolutely ridiculous ones.) It seems the trend today is to have the biggest, flashiest hat possible! Flowers and feathers and bows, oh my! Don't get me wrong, I love good Gainsborough style hat. But a few I saw were just, wow, over the top. They screamed "look at me!" Of course, hat of all sorts have pretty much always been a part of the Derby fun and are as much a tradition as mint julep and the song, My Old Kentucky Home.

Churchill Downs President Matt Winn with a group of ladies at the 1938 Derby

Cherry Hill's Garden State Park Racetrack August 23, 1946
Race track fashions, 1958
Below are some great race day fashions designed by Samuel Robert. I like the pink suit with the matching hat. Not so sure about the gold pants suit.

Fashions by Samuel Robert, 1958
Fashions by Samuel Robert, 1958
One of my favorite hats (and all time favorite movies) is the black and white hat worn by Audrey Hepburn for the race track scene in the movie, My Fair Lady. It's very much a Gainsborough hat.

Are you planning on wearing a smaller hat, but are unsure of how to wear your hair? Take a look at this quick 1940s hair and hat tutorial posted today by Brittany of Va-Voom Vintage. Brittany offers a couple different hair tutorials. Just click on the tutorial/info tab on her page.

Scene from My Fair Lady

Audrey Hepburn in My Fair Lady
If you are watching the race tomorrow, enjoy! And don't forget your glass of mint julep!

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