Monday, December 30, 2013

Sewing Review 2013

Yearly sewing reviews seem to be very popular in the blogging world and this year I felt I had enough finished projects to put together my own. I didn't realize I'd made so many things! Makes me wonder where the heck I found the time? But to be fair, a few of these projects were started in 2012. As I look back at my sewing projects of 2013 and reflect ... I see some things I'm very happy with and others that could use a little help to look or fit better. But over all I'm pleased with the results. This year I was really good about using fabric and notions that I already had on hand. My goal is to continue the trend in the new year.

Thank you all for your wonderful comments, suggestions, and encouragement throughout the year. I really enjoy hearing what you have to say. :)

I used a gorgeous green silk from Delectable Mountain Cloth and some Edwardian era buckles for trim. The fabric was fussy to work with but so worth it in the end. The pattern was based on a couple different 1920s gowns. You can read all about the construction, inspiration, and actual event here.

 2 - 1940s pants and blouse for Sew for Victory
This is one of those projects that could use a little help. It turned out that I didn't have quite enough fabric for the blouse. I used a large "scrap" of cotton from my mom's quilting stash, which, after washing I discovered had a hole in it. The blouse is a touch too short and doesn't like to stay tucked in so I haven't worn it anywhere. I could piece together what's left to make it longer, but ... meh. I really like the pattern and will most likely use it again. The pants/trousers went together easily enough but I think the pattern needs a bit of tweaking to fit me.

3 - 1860 dress for Gettysburg trip.
This was one of those projects .... I was planning a trip to a history site and suddenly found myself with "nothing" to wear! (Never mind the fact that I already had a perfectly good 1860s cotton dress sitting in the closet!) Does this happen to anyone else? The main reason for making this new dress was that I didn't want to wear the same dress again for pictures at Rob Gibson's Wet Plate Photography Studio. Seems logical right?  Back in high school and my early collage years I was pretty active in Civil War reenacting but when my reenacting group began to fall apart I became more involved in other things. This seven plus yards of cotton, that I actually bought for the purpose of making such a dress, had been sitting unused in the stash for years and was perfect with this project. Easy to work with and easy to pack and travel with. I never did a proper blog post on this dress so I will be adding that to my blog "to do" list for 2014.

4 - Blue and white 1940s dress for birthday.
Back in May I made myself a new dress for my birthday using Hollywood pattern 1413. This was another project using fabric from the stash. :) I really like this pattern but if I make it again the neckline will need a little work. It's hard to tell in the pictures but the neck/bust area has some gathering details which turned out a little funny. The bodice darts needed adjusting but overall it went together well.I wore it with a pair of navy blue gloves and a navy blue straw hat with little yellow and white daffodils.

5 - Green 1950s bridesmaid dress for my friend Erin's wedding.
I was so glad when this dress was finished! The bodice was fiddly and fabric was a nightmare to work with. It looks great in the pictures and was comfortable and fun to wear. However, I don't see myself wearing it again. It's for sale if anyone is interested! ;)

This was a very fast sewing project! Thank goodness 1920s patterns can be simple. This one was basically one big rectangle with an added belt/sash. All the fabric and the shell buckle came from the stash so it cost $0 to make. That's the best kind of costuming project! I wore it to the Greater Boston Vintage Society's Roaring 20s Lawn Party at Castle Hill in Ipswich, Mass.

 7 - Finished purple and white 1760s gown
This gown was started in 2012. Technically this project is not 100% finished because I still want to make a matching petticoat to go with it. But the gown it's self is done. I wore it for the first time to Old Sturbridge Village. The gown is entirely hand sewn and is made from a Williamsburg reproduction cotton print. The fabric came from William Booth Draper but I don't think it's available anymore. I use the same gown pattern for all my 18th century gowns and make minor adjustments depending on the decade I want represent.

8 - Finished white linen mitts and a silk pin cushion. 
I started these in March of 2012 at a Hive workshop. It was a two part workshop where we learned about 18th century trim for gowns, making fly fringe, and mitts. The reason these took so long to complete was the embroidery. The pin cushion is based on one in a museum and is made from a scrap of ivory silk taffeta left from this gown. It's filled will 100% wool batting that came from sheep my family raised and is trimmed with a sample of silk fly fringe I made in the workshop.

9 - Red and white 1940s dress.
Made from a lovely  red and white striped cotton using vintage Advance Pattern 4199. Look for this soon in the "Made by Me" section of my Etsy shop. I'm hoping to add a couple items to this section in the spring.

Not a whole lot to say about this project other then they're curtains! lol! I have already taken them apart and plan to use the fabric for other projects.The dress is the 1860s cotton plaid mentioned above.

My last big sewing project of 2013. Gold/mustard yellow crepe evening dress trimmed with lots of sequins and some Victorian/Edwardian era jet bead flowers. It took about a week start to finish, was easy to make, and loads of fun to wear.

So what's on the sewing agenda for 2014 you ask? I'd really like to complete some more projects that have been patiently waiting in the 'round to it pile. Namely my 18th century shoes, some gown alterations, a basic 1812 era wardrobe, and a few more items for my shop. As for really big projects ... oh I don't, maybe a wedding dress?! We'll see, still not convinced I want that headache.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

GBVS Winter Formal and A Gold Evening Gown

On Sunday Cori and I went to the Greater Boston Vintage Society Winter Formal. The event was held at the Dane Estate of Pine Manor College in Brookline, Mass. The mansion was built in 1891 and was beautifully decorated for the holiday season. I didn't take many photos but if you hop over to the blog Plaid Petticoats you will see some wonder photos of the event. There are also a few photos on the GBVS Facebook page. After dinner we watched It's a Wonderful Life on 16mm film using an original 1940s era army movie projector. So cool, including the pauses to switch film reels! The combination of the film and all the little details added by the event organizers really made us feel as though we had been transported back in time.

I received a lot of complements on my dress and even won the Lady's prize for best formal outfit of the evening. What a nice surprise as there were so many wonderfully dresses people there! I'm not sure how I feel about being crowned with the title "Lady of the Evening," it cracks me up a little as it brings to mind a slightly unsavory kind of character. ;) The gentleman who won the Lord's title was wearing a very nice Bonnie Prince Charlie jacket and tartan trews!

Several people asked me about my dress. This is the dress pattern I used, vintage Simplicity 1469. Originally I was going to use the green crepe from my Halloween "curtain dress" but changed my mind. Having made two different green dresses for formal events this year I decided it was time for a serious color change. So I looked through the fabric stash and picked this mustard yellow/gold crepe. The time period for the event was 1946. When looking over the pattern I discovered it actually has a copyright date! 1945 to be exact so it was perfect. Most early 40s patterns are not dated so this was a nice little discovery.

After some debate I opted to make the full length version. I figured if I was going to make an evening dress I should go all out. I looked around on Etsy and a number of other places to find inspiration for the trim. I knew I wanted to do something with sequins but wasn't sure just what. Below are a couple of dresses I used as inspiration. The plan was to use black, red, AND green sequins but my local fabric shop was sold out of green. Boo! So back to the drawing board.


1940s dress/ 40s rayon dress/ sequin trim
In the end I went with just the black and red and I'm pretty happy with the final design. I would liked to have added more sequins to the sleeves and peplum but ran out of time. The black beaded flower motifs are Victorian/Edwardian era pieces that I've had for a long time now. I acquired a small box of jet bead trims that someone carefully saved from what must have been some very stunning pieces of clothing! The construction of the flower motifs is pretty interesting too. It looks as though the tiny jet beads where first sewn to a long length of cord. Then the cord was fashioned into the finished design. Talk about time consuming!

Playing with different trims
Close up of one of the Victorian/Edwardian jet bead flowers
The construction was pretty easy and straight forward. After cutting out all the pieces the bodice, or waist as the pattern referred to it, was assembled and the sleeves attached. The tops of the sleeves have a line of gathering stitches that were pulled up to help fit the sleeve into the armcycle. They also help, along with the shoulder pads, to give the sleeves that little pouf on top. The peplum is made of two pieces both cut on the fold. The skirt was four pieces - two front and two back - with a slit at the bottom front. That made walking in the dress much easier. :)

Here you can see the three main pieces of the dress - waist, peplum, and skirt after hemming- waiting to be sewn together. First, the peplum was basted to the skirt then the two were attached to the bodice. The last thing to add was the zipper. Not my best work, I hate sewing zippers! The only adjustments I made to the pattern was the skirt length - a given because I'm only 5' 2"! - and the seam allowance to the skirt.

I decided to wear some of my rhinestone jewelry. The necklace and earrings I'm pretty sure are 1950s and the bracelet is probably later. I admit I felt a bit over dressed but they were really sparkly and fun to wear! I also wore my black 1940s peep-toe shoes from Honey Talk Vintage and carried a gold mesh Whiting & Davis clutch. It has a little hinged snap closure with rhinestones. I did a little research and discovered that the Whiting & Davis Company, located in Plainville, Massachusetts is the oldest purse company in the US and is responsible for a variety of exceptional mesh purses and other accessories. They started as a jewelry firm in 1876 and made their first mesh bag in 1892.

I set my hair in pin curls the night before the event and waited to take them out until just before we had to leave. My hair doesn't really like to hold a curl but now that it is a little shorter I have an easier time creating a 40s up-do and victory rolls. And my curls actually lasted the whole night so I was happy. It looked half way decent the next day too:)

Cori wore his 1940s tuxedo, peaked waistcoat with matching bow tie, and a vintage tuxedo shirt. He was also wearing his Swank cuff links and shirt studs which we purchased to wear with his 1920s tuxedo for the Downton Abbey event back in January. There were a lot of nicely dress gents there and even a few in uniform too. We had a wonderful time! Thank you to Jason Volk, the Dane Estate and everyone else who worked so hard to put this event together!

Not sure who actually too this photo but here's a group shot of most everyone who attended the event.

Summary of the Pattern
Fabric: Mustard/Chartreuse crepe from discount fabric store
Pattern: Simplicity 1469
Year: 1946
Notions: Zipper, snaps, red and black sequins, antique jet bead flower motifs
How historically accurate is it? Very! The crepe is very close to dresses on the period and the trim was inspired by several original dresses.
Any tricky parts to the pattern? The side placket and zipper but I always find these a little tricky. Adding the trim was time consuming but fun and I'm happy with how it turned out!
Did you change anything? Just the length of the skirt.
Time to complete: About a week, I worked on it a few hours each night after work
First worn: December 2013
Total cost: Around $30
Notes: Overall very happy with how this turned out! Sometime I will get around to adding the remaining sequins. I also think this dress needs a belt. Maybe a self fabric belt with a black buckle?

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Up Coming Vintage/Costume Events!

Looking for some fun filled vintage events this holiday season? If you are in the New England area I have two just for you! Tips on how to find out about events like these as well as other living history type events will be the subject of an upcoming post so stay tuned!

The Greater Boston Vintage Society is hosting its first annual Winter Formal at the Dane Estate of Pine Manor College in Brookline, Massachusetts. Here is the write up from the Facebook event page.

The Greater Boston Vintage Society "Winter Formal" event
Its 1946, the war is over, it’s time to put on your tux and top hat, your best formal gown, and celebrate like the good old days! Join us for a night of dinner, dancing, and a private complimentary showing of the newly released “It’s a Wonderful Life” on genuine 16mm film!

Refreshments and Dancing at 5:00 pm
Dinner buffet at 6:00 pm
Private screening of “It’s a Wonderful Life” 7:00 - 9:00 pm
More dancing and socializing until 11:00 pm

Vintage style dress encouraged, but not mandatory ~ All ages welcome. Swing and Ballroom holiday music provided by Mike Hibarger of Boston Swing Central!
Cost: $30 per guest. Sorry no discounts available.
Payment must be received before Dec. 10th--Tickets can not be purchased at the door! To register/pay, send me a Facebook message and I'll provide payment info. Limited to 100 guests so sign up early before tickets sell out!

I've already ordered tickets to the Winter Formal and have started working on a new dress. If anyone is planning to attend let me know. I'd love to meet up!

Break out your best 1920s attire! VPT will be hosting An Experience Inspired by Downton Abbey on January 4th at the Essex Spa and Resort in Essex, Vermont. Some of you I'm sure will remember my posts earlier in year about the event. Admission was on the expensive side so at first I didn't think it would be possible to go. However, after talking it over with Cori we decided to splurge and go. I'm so glad we did because that ended up being the weekend that Cori proposed! The food was excellent and this year I understand there will be music and dancing.

Need more convincing? Here's a quick video about the event 

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Spreading Holiday Cheer!

Hi all! In the spirit of holiday fun and giving I've noticed that many blogger and shops are offering all kinds of sales and giveaways. I'm entering a few myself and thought I would take a moment to share them with you, my lovely readers.

Up first, American Duchess Advent Calender.  A different prize everyday how awesome is that? Plus a chance to win the Season 1 DVD of BBC's "Upstairs/Downstairs". Click here for details.

American Duchess Advent Calender
Missy Vintage 3rd Birthday Prize giveaway includes a chance to win a copy of Style Me Vintage - Clothes by Naomi Thompson, 1 pair of What Katie Did retro seamed black tights AND 1 pair of What Katie Did retro seamed nude stockings. The Missy Vintage 12 Days of Christmas Giveaways will be taking place later in the month so check back with that blog.

Win a pair of  American Duchess "23 Skidoo" Spectator T-Strap Shoes in your size. Check out Paper Mothball Vintage for details!

Check out Tilly and the Buttons for an awesome collection of prizes.

Natalie Garbett of Maker of Historical Clothing and Costumes (Fichu)  is giving bloggers the chance to win a copy of 'Creating Historical Clothes' by Elizabeth Friendship.

Creating Historical Clothes Book Giveaway
Also between now and December 10th, everything in my Etsy shop is 20% off when you use the code THANKS20. (U.S. shipping only, sorry.) Look for new additions to the shop soon! As a special thank you to all of my blog followers, share any item in my shop on your blog, Facebook page, Pinterest, etc. and leave me a comment letting me know and I will create a special code for you to shop and save in the future!

Do you know of any additional holiday sales or giveaways? Let me know and I'll update my post.

Friday, November 29, 2013

More Wedding Dresses - Shop My Closet Sale

From my early post this week you will see that I have a soft spot for vintage wedding dresses. Silk, satin, lace, it doesn't matter. They are elegant and timeless. And oh the details! It's also no secret that I'm getting married. :) I'm parting with some of my vintage treasures to make some much needed room in my closet but also to help save a little money towards my own wedding. I considered wearing one of these dresses for my own wedding but they are not really what I'm looking for. I want something made of lace, or maybe even velvet, I haven't really made up my mind! I'm a little sad to let the dresses go but the thought of them going to a new home and the possibility of being worn for another gal's wedding is uplifting and exciting.

Both of these dresses have amazing little details that really need to be seen in person.

Dream Wedding - 1940s Ivory Silk Wedding Gown on Etsy
Dream Wedding - 1940s Ivory Silk Wedding Gown on Etsy
1940’s Liquid Satin Wedding Gown on Etsy
My apologies for the odd photos, there was a lot of junk in the background! After some thought I decided to include the wedding dresses in my holiday sale. I only have a few items in the shop and it seemed a little silly not to include them. Enter the code THANKS20 to save 20%. Holiday sale ends December 10th. (U.S. shipping only, sorry.) Look for new additions to the shop soon! As a special thank you to all of my blog followers, share any item in my shop on your blog, Facebook page, Pinterest, etc. and leave me a comment letting me know and I will create a special code for you to shop and save in the future!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Vintage Lace Wedding Dresses

In the almost two years I've been blogging ,I haven't posted many photos of items from my personal antique/vintage textile collection. Not counting a few of the hats and shoes and such that I worn for vintage outings, of course. But after chatting with Joanna of Dividing Vintage Moments about some of the wonderful things we own, I've realized that I have a lot of stuff that would be worth sharing here. Much of it needs to be photographed. There's a lot of work involved in displaying and photographing items, editing the photos, and then finally getting around to blogging about them. And let's face it, I'm lazy! lol!! Actually, I should be better about this for my own record keeping purposes. Cori and I have been working to compile a complete list of all the items we've collected, just like museums do. He's really good about assigning a new "catalog number" whenever he gets a new navy uniform. It's a smart way to manage a collection, even a small one. If there's any interest I'll write up a blog post to expand upon this subject. :)

Anyway, these are two lovely lace ladies I've owned for a long time. So beautiful and delicate, they deserve to be seen and admired, old and worn out as they are. The first, which is actually a lace coat with a separate rayon slip, was a gift from my parents. I believed it came in a box lot of stuff from a local auction house. I have the veil too but can't find the photo I took of it. The coat has tiny covered buttons and button loops part way down the front and a beautiful little pointed train. I think the lace is cut on the bias but I can't really remember. Overall its in nice condition but does have some minor issues - a few spots here and there and little breaks in the lace. The veil has yellowed and the netting has become brittle in places. I think this one is late 1930s or very early 1940s. By the time you get into the 1940s most wedding gowns are made from heavy satin or some kind of rayon. I've seen many lace and satin combinations that are just stunning. I have a couple of satin wedding gowns as well that I need to get around to photographing. Ah, so little time.....

1940s lace wedding coat and rayon slip - From my personal collection
1940s lace wedding coat and rayon slip - From my personal collection
This is my favorite photo of this wedding gown. I really like the contrast of the ivory lace against the dark red and blue carpet.

1940s lace wedding coat and rayon slip - From my personal collection
1940s lace wedding coat and rayon slip - From my personal collection
This next beauty probably was meant to be more of an evening gown then a wedding gown. I would date this to the mid 1930s because of the type of lace and the stunning bias construction. It has a rather interesting story too. I rescued it from an old steamer trunk along with another dress that had been stored in an old barn. I wasn't sure either dress was worth saving as I could tell that mice had been into them. Yuck. The words musty, dusty, and gross come to mind when I think of the state they were in when I found them. Each dress was first gently rinsed in cold water to remove years of grim. This lace sheath then took a nice long soak in a cold water and Borax bath. I know many people use Woolight to clean vintage textiles but I have never tried it although I've heard good things. I've had good luck with using Borax on both modern and vintage garments. Borax comes in a powder form and dissolves quickly in water. For stronger materials like linen or cotton you can work the powder directly into the wet fabric to remove stains then let it soak. I find that very handy when cleaning my linen aprons after a weekend of camping in the 18th century.

**Side Note - I would not recommend scrubbing older textiles 
as they can be very delicate especially when wet!!**

While this dress may look nice on the form, it does have it's issues. There are several small stains on the lace that I was not able to remove. There are also numerous breaks in the lace which make the gown unwearable without major repairs. The majority of the damage is to the lower back hem - stupid mice! I should have removed the metal hooks and eyes from the side opening before letting the gown soak because one of them rusted creating a new stain. Thankfully its really small but lesson learned. Even though it can't really be worn this gown is an excellent piece for study and display.

1930s bias cut evening/wedding gown - From my personal collection
1930s bias cut evening/wedding gown - From my personal collection
So there you have it. Two extremely beautiful gowns. Sorry, they are not for sale. However, I do have a couple satin gowns for sale. Two are already listed in my shop and I have two more waiting to be photographed.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Beautiful Brunswicks

Today I share with you a painting of Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz (May 19, 1744 – November 17, 1818) who was the Queen consort of the United Kingdom and wife of King George III. She is wearing an amazingly beautiful Brunswick. 

I don't know when, if ever, I will get around to making one of these amazing jackets. Burnley and Trowbridge offered a workshop for them a while back but I wasn't able to go. Check out the photos on their Facebook page.

Queen Charlotte, c. 1777 by Benjamin West

Friday, November 22, 2013

More Spotted and Checked Handkerchiefs

Last year I posted about 18th century spotted and printed handkerchief. You can read that post here. Here are a few more images of spotted and checked handkerchiefs I have come across in period prints. The red and white handkerchief I normally wear to 18th century events looks very much like the one mentioned in this newspaper ad.

For additional information on spotted handkerchief please see Paul Dickfoss' article, Spotted Handkerchiefs!

The ROGUISH BOY - Source
Snuff and Twopenny - Source

I love this print! THE JEALOUS MAIDS  - Source

Also a very fine hat on the lady. THE SAILOR'S PLEASURE -  Source

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Inspirational Vintage Journey

The lovely Joanna of Dividing Vintage Moments is hosting a giveaway! To enter the giveaway Joanna is asking bloggers to share ten items that inspire your vintage journey. After a bit of thought here is what I came up with.

Dividing Vintage Moments giveaway prizes

1. Old Hollywood movies 
My Girl Friday, Casablanca, and anything with stars like Dianna Durbin, Vivian Leigh, and Clark Gable. These older movies are very entertaining. I like watching them for the costumes too.

 2. Vintage patterns and magazines. 
When in doubt go straight to the sources!

Movie still from Casablanca
3. Original vintage and antique clothing
You can't beat the real thing! I'm always saving images for future reference and inspiration. The dress below was the main inspiration for my Downton Abbey dress.

My 1920s dream dress, green lamé fabric - Vintage Textiles
4. Single items like a hat or pair of shoes. 
I really enjoy taking one or two items and building a whole outfit around them.

5. Historic sites.
Who doesn't like to dress up when going to a historic site. I'm sure I'm not alone in admitting that I've planned an entire outfit around a location or historical event that I will be visiting. :) Colonial Williamsburg, anyone?

6. Historical Figures
There are just too many too name. We can learn so much from the people who lived before us.

7. Auction previews, antique shops, and thrift stores. 
 I often go to places with certain things in mind. The exciting part is discovering something you didn't expect to find. A good example would be the original Women Ordinance Worker's (WOW) head scarf that I saw in a shop in Gettysburg, PA. If only I had the money for that!! Auction previews are great because they give you the opportunity to look at up close and handle some items that you would not be able to otherwise. There is a local auction house that I like to go that that specializes in fine art and antiques. We're talking museum quality in many cases! Sit in an original 18th century chair or try on an art deco diamond ring that I will NEVER be able to afford? Um, ok! You never know what you are going to find and the best part is looking is free. :)

Tiffany & Co. Art Deco diamond and ruby platinum ring - Source
8. Family history. 
I had a great aunt who hitch hiked cross country with a friend to see the 1932 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles. I'd say that's inspiring! There are also several veterans on both sides of the family and I'm always in awe of those who have served our country.

Uniform shirt that belonged to Cori's grandfather. He served between WWII and the Korean War as a paratrooper. The jump wings belong to Cori's brother who is currently in the Army.

9. Blogs and Bloggers! 
I really enjoy seeing what other bloggers and costumers are working on. There is always something new to learn from my favorite blogs.

10. My darling fiance. 
Yes Cori, I'm mentioning you on my blog again! If ever there was a guy who enjoyed playing dress up, it's him. He is just as crazy about historical clothing as I am so I guess it's a good thing we're getting married. Seriously, this is what he does on the weekends, no lie.

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