Monday, 28 March 2016

1860s Chemise and Nightgown

This project very nearly ended up being a UFO if it weren't for me trying it on again and deciding that the fit was okay. Funnily enough, I tried it on backwards the first time (forgetting that I had a narrow slit in the front), and the fit was really off - too tight and gaping at the shoulders - but when I tried it on a second time later, it was perfect! Silly me :)

The pattern is Simplicity 1139, a Civil war era pattern for a chemise, however, I intend to wear this as a Lolita-esque/historical-inspired nightgown so I have something more to my tastes to wear for bed. But when I do make some 1860s fashions, I'll be sure to dig this out for the underpinnings.
At a first glance, this pattern looked very simple and easy - but the picture on the envelope is deceiving! It came with all sorts of strange things that modern fashion seldom ever has, such as gussets, additional panels where just one would suffice, and underarm facings. It was confusing at first, to say the least, as things could have been a whole lot easier without all the little pieces. But once I got started, it was actually okay, even if the underarm facing never got put in because I was so perplexed.

In the end, it makes a very pretty nightdress, and in the future I may do some ribbon embroidery on it, possibly along the hem.

Saturday, 19 March 2016

Wearing my Chemise en Robe at Tatton Park

Today I went to Tatton Park with my family, seeing as it was the first day in months that the house was open, due to bad winter weather. The day wasn't exactly spring-like and sunshiny, but at least we got some good shots.
In these photos I accessorised with pearl drop earrings, a pearl necklace, a black taffeta sash and two black ribbons to tie around my sleeves. The great thing about chemise en robes is that you can mix and match with different colours each time, so I may make a purple sash someday.

Entrance to the gardens...

The back view (I hand-sewed an additional panel into the back so that it would fit)

I'm not usually this sour-faced, but in these photos I didn't want to have a big grin, either.

Outside my house... Just kidding! I wish.

It felt rather strange wearing this ensemble around the gardens and house, as everybody else was wearing walking gear and modern-day clothes. Strangely enough, nobody asked any questions, but I did make a few people smile and say "look, there's a Georgian!". I'd like to do photoshoots for future costumes I make, maybe at other historical houses and gardens. It was a lot of fun, even if I was freezing!
Again, it was wonderful to be at Tatton Park once more! I love the interiors, the portraits, and all the different rooms; I feel very inspired there, and can't wait to go again in the summer some time.

Tuesday, 15 March 2016

c1795-1803 Open Robe Part 1: Patterning

Making the pattern was challenging, I'm not going to lie. I used a combination of sheer luck and Janet Arnold's "Patterns of Fashion book 1", referencing the basic bodice block pattern from Elizabeth Friendship's "Creating Historical Clothes" from time to time to see how I should lay out the pattern and armscyes.
I made a muslin from the shapes referenced from the 1795-1803 open robe in Patterns of Fashion, and altered it accordingly, adding seam allowance and further width each time it looked like it was a bit on the small side. Most of it was free-hand, using the squares in the book as a method of measuring the length, though in the end I had made a lot of alterations.

Here's the pattern that I put together, tracing around all the pieces and joining them together, creating curves so that it all flowed. You can see the individual pieces, some with seam allowance and some without, that I traced around in the background.

Next I made a second, more accurate muslin out of left over cotton. It fitted! I just needed to make the arm holes bigger so that it was comfortable, and made some darts in the back and bodice front so that there wasn't any gaping. Fortunately the darts are in good places, so it doesn't look like the darts shouldn't be there.

I took some photos of myself wearing the mock-up over my chemise and stays. I really need some transitional stays, but for the near future I'm not wearing any stays, as the ones I have made are agonising in minutes. The empire bust line without stays still appears right, however, so I'll just have to let the historical inaccuracies go for now, until I make some decent 1790s stays. :) Also, I need to make a big panel for the back of my chemise, so that I can wear it as an individual garment, as there is a large, gaping gap where it is too small. Too many problems, and too little time and patience to fix them!

Friday, 11 March 2016

Future Costuming Plans

This year I hope to do a lot more costuming, as it's become one of my main obsessions for over a year now. Here's a list of the things I want to make in the future. I may not get them all done this year (it would be amazing if I could, though), so it can carry on for the next five years seeing how slow I am at making things. :)

In no particular order, I have planned:

  • Sky Blue 1790s Open Robe (to go with my chemise en robe I recently made)
  • 1790s transitional stays
  • 1790s turban to match the open robe

  • 1860s Sunshine Yellow Quadrille Ballgown (for a dancing festival I may go to)
  • Mid-Victorian corset (the chemise is already in progress, but it doubles up as a nightgown :))

  • 18th Century sack-back gown in pale blue and black
  • Some more 18th Century stays
  • A shift/chemise to wear under the stays
  • Some hand-sewn plain white petticoats, one striped, and one with a ruffle. 

  • Some Edwardian day dresses based on this pattern; I already have variations in my mind, but I'm planning on a black and blue dress, a white dress with lace inserts, and a black and gold trim dress made of velvet. 
  • Edwardian corset

  • Lilac Regency Fairytale Ballgown
  • Plain white, or striped, Regency dress

  • Glinda the Good Witch costume from the Wizard of Oz
  • 18th Century panniers as underpinnings

Saturday, 5 March 2016

Liberty-Print Fantasy Skirt

This skirt only took a few hours to make, as it came from a pattern I had used and adapted before, to make my Queen of Hearts skirt; I wear this skirt a lot, so I thought another skirt of the same pattern was called for.

It's quite a boring skirt, just used in modern and casual Lolita coordinates, but I'm going to inject it into my vintage-inspired and modern holiday wardrobe, so I get a touch of Lolita in my outfits. The main attraction of this skirt, however, is the fabric.

I've got some closeups of the Liberty print, which I got on sale for £10 a metre at Abakhan. It has lions, angels, dragons, chariot horses and a crawling plant print, which reminded me of so many books that I love. I collect Lolita prints with angels and cherubs on, so how could I resist this fabric?

Thursday, 3 March 2016

Silk Ribbon Embroidered Pin Cushion for my Nana

This morning I finished putting together my Mother's day present for my grandmother. I'm also going to get her some spring flowers, as she helps me a lot with my sewing and other things. My real Mum doesn't sew much, so I thought maybe some fudge would be a better present, but I digress.

The execution of my pincushion is nowhere near as perfect as the pincushion in the video, but I'm pleased for a first attempt. :)

Tomorrow I will post about a simple little skirt that I made out of fantasy-themed fabric.

Tuesday, 1 March 2016

Beginning Ribbon Embroidery

Last week I was looking at some tutorials online for ribbon embroidery, as my next project is to be a Victorian nightdress with ribbon embroidery, and I found this video by Crafty Attic. I've fallen in love with the pincushions and how easy she makes it look, as well as the fact that you can colour the roses in! So, I've taken the plunge and bought some silk ribbon and needles! I'm going to make pincushions for myself and my grandmother for Mother's day, as she helps me with sewing a lot. It would also be nice to take on the plane with me when I go on holiday.

Already I can see that it is such a fun, relaxing hobby, and I've enjoyed my afternoon embroidering a lot.

I started by getting my rose and apple tea ready with my lovely china, as I had a guest in the morning and wanted to make things pretty for her, as she's a Lolita like myself. She had gone by then, but it was still fun to live elegantly for a while, even if I am on my own. You can see my cat, Luna, that had been drinking the milk when my back was turned - the evidence is all over her face!

My first rose wasn't very successful, but I soon got the hang of it. I decided on lilac cotton for my pincushion background, as it's my favourite colour. 

When the cat was banished from drinking my tea, the dog joined us on the bed. My embroidery pals, who frequently interrupt me for cuddles! :)

Some roses that I made and coloured in. I did more and coloured that in, but I couldn't take any more photos as it went dark. My French knots are quite big and loopy (some of them), so I've turned them into rose buds and added some sprays of blue buds. 

The video that inspired me: