Monday, September 1, 2014

Follow Me on Facebook!

I've created a Facebook page for my blogs where I'll be posting frequent progress pictures and random musings. I noticed I was posting things on Facebook but not here to the blog because they weren't things I deemed "blog-worthy", but my Facebook friends still found them interesting. I think the blogs will be for big, nicely photographed posts of completed garments, and the Facebook page will be for in-progress shots. 

https://www.facebook.com/thecouturecourtesan 

Come find out what I've been up to!


Saturday, August 30, 2014

Riding Habit Construction

Unfortunately, I didn't take construction pictures of the entire process... I got too caught up in everything, and learning completely new ways of doing things! But here are a couple images of some of the early steps, and some pictures of it after it's done to highlight a few interesting things.

I must take a moment to acknowledge the incredible generosity of my husband and his master, Mark Hutter, for helping me with the construction of this. I feel blessed to have them in my life, as mentors and friends!

The very first thing I did was sew the center back seam of the jacket. This was done by putting all four layers together (2 wool and 2 silk lining) so that they could be sewn all at once. Make sure the two wools are right sides together, and the two silks are right sides together. 


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I sewed the seam in non-matching (totally period!) silk thread with a tiny, tidy backstitch. 
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Once it's sewn, you can unfold the layers like so, revealing a fully-encased seam.
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Ta-da! Make sure to press it so it's nice and neat. Pressing is your best friend when it comes to tailoring. That, and chalk.
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Another interesting (and very different from mantua-making!) aspect of tailoring is all of the interfacing! There's no pad stitching anywhere in this garment, just a heavy, coarse linen (I could/should have gone the extra step and put a couple layers of gum tragacanth on the linen to create buckram, but...).

The interfacing is tucked under the seam allowance of the front edges. Press, press, press!
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Then I basted down the front edge so everything would stay in place. The lining gets folded under to meet the edge, and then is felled down.
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On the outside of the jacket, the outer edge of the interfacing gets tacked into place with a very widely spaced backstitch. Yes, it shows, but it's helpful and period, and if done neatly, it looks quite nice!
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All of the body seams (side-backs, shoulders, armseyes) were sewn twice: once with a back stitch, and then again with a spaced back stitch on top. I pressed the seam allowance to one side, and then did a spaced back stitch along the seam.
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Eighteenth century stitching (in fact, stitching from ALL periods!) is NOT always pretty! Especially when it won't show. :) This is how the lining is attached to the back skirts. It is done from the outside with a spaced back stitch. The underside looks shoddy...
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...but the outside is very neat and tidy! But no one will see it unless they are scrutinizing your bum...
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The side-back seams of the lining are folded on top of the center back lining and felled down, just like on women's gowns. That was at least something I was familiar with!
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Buttonholes... Oh, buttonholes. I love doing them now! I never thought I'd say that. But they are quite satisfying to do, making the little knots. These buttonholes were done using a "proper" buttonhole stitch, not a blanket stitch. I totally did not know they were different things before doing this project... I'd never needed to do buttonholes before! Now I do thousands by hand for work...There's a good tutorial here on Youtube. I can't remember if he says it in the video or not, but WAX YOUR THREAD! You will thank yourself... And use silk buttonhole twist, too. Having the right materials makes a world of difference, and it makes things easier!
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I hope this has been useful! I don't usually do construction write-ups like this, but this was such a fun, different experience that I had to share. If y'all like this kind of thing, I'll try to do it more often. :) Cheers!

Sunday, August 10, 2014

17th Century Middling Outfit



I got to go "play" at Henricus yesterday for work. It was awesome! I'm so addicted to the early 17th century... I'll be doing a separate post about my pair of bodies and smock once I get good pictures taken. Those pieces, and the coif, were entirely hand sewn. The actual doublet and petticoat are not, because I made them at work, on work time, for eventual inclusion in our inventory. Thus they are a mix of machine sewing (where you can't see) and hand sewing (where you can, like all the button holes). It's definitely a time saving way of making things! And it greatly helped my wrist as well. My outfit is essentially the "prototype" for new styles of women's clothes for our female interpreters. They are very excited and so am I!

It was going to be me, Michael, Mark, and my boss, but my boss got called away on work-related business, and Michael went to Canada for the battle of Ft. Erie. However, we still had a good time! The visitors were great and asked excellent questions. They were very open and receptive to new ideas about the comfort of our clothing, etc. I had a wonderful conversation with two Muslim women about covering up completely in the heat. One of them said she often gets asked if she's "hot in that" just like we historical interpreters do!

My slate frame arrived yesterday (unfortunately not in time to be dressed for the event), so I'll be able to start on my blackwork coif in the near future. I also have fabric and trim on the way for my upper class/noble 1610s gown. I had originally thought to use that wool satin, but it was never a color that was speaking to me for that project... So I caved and bought what I really wanted, green silk for this outfit:
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Anyway! Here are pictures! :)

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Thursday, August 7, 2014

Costume College! And Gowns for Sale :)

I did a very brief post on Costume College at my Livejournal. It was amazing! :)

I also have a few gowns for sale on my Etsy site. We got hit with some unexpected medical bills relating to my wrist (it's a huge mess, actually...), and I could use a closet clean-out.

https://www.etsy.com/shop/reinedecoudre

Steampunk, anyone?


Tuesday, July 29, 2014

A Riding Habit :)

At long last, the riding habit is revealed! I hope it's not anti-climactic!. It was a LOT of work, even though it looks rather plain. Tailoring is... an entirely different beast from dressmaking! Different techniques, different stitches. Mike and I had a complete mis-communication over something because what he told me to do means two different things to tailors and mantua-makers! I will probably do a separate construction post, although I don't have too many construction pics. They are on my camera, which needs to be recharged (before Costume College, eep!).

I take no credit for the beauty of the fit of my habit. It's all thanks to master tailor Mark Hutter, who used me as an experiment for a new style of riding habit. I didn't mind being a guinea pig at all. :) Mike walked me through construction, which was a good husband-wife exercise in communication. I learned so much during the process, and have an even greater respect for the work he and Mark do. I'll stick to millinery and mantua-making, thanks!

The habit is made from green twilled worsted wool from Burnley and Trowbridge. The silk button hole twist and buttons are from them as well, along with the heavy linen interfacing. The cream silk lining is from Renaissance Fabrics. The hat is only temporary (it's going to become my 17th c hat). After doing all of these button holes, and the thousands I have done at work now, I really enjoy them! I never thought I'd say that!

I'm wearing Nicole's riding shirt, too. I didn't have time to make one before our event, and Nicole recently sold her habit, so I have until she makes a new one to get my own shirt made!

My dear, good Emma took pictures for me on her excellent camera. What good friends I'm blessed with!



    

Many more imagesbehind the cut
       !

Sunday, July 13, 2014

The Pretty Milliner

We did our trades demonstration yesterday in Northern Virginia, and we got to test out our new 1820s outfits. Mike, Nicole, and I all made new clothes (of course!). I'm officially in love with the 1820s. It's so quirky and underrepresented! So I'm very excited to wear it again at Costume College. :)

A quick side note about Costume College... A number of reasons have led me to only be attending on Saturday, the day I teach my class. This means more time with my family, who I haven't seen since January. So I hope I'll get to see everyone Saturday! I will be staying for the Gala, wearing my sooper seekret crazy Gala outfit. Oh yes, it's pretty silly. But it should be awesome... :)

Anyway, I had so much fun researching this new era! The gown is hand sewn and has piping down the center front, around the neckline, and around the armseyes. The side back seams are top stitched, as well as the top of the waistband. The bottom of the waistband is sewn right sides together with the skirt, and then all of the raw edges are covered with sort of a facing. None of the other raw edges are finished, although I did whip down the sleeve head gathers to the bodice lining to keep them smooth. The back fastens with hooks and eyes. I stitched three bands of trim onto the sleeves, and a wide band around the skirt. These were simple and quick applications, but visually make a big impact. I have a lot of fabric left over and may go back and do something a little fancier. But I'm quite pleased with how it turned out.

The collar is a super fine piece of linen edged with a nice cotton lace. It has a bias band along the neck edge and is pinned into the dress. 

I set up a millinery shop and created a hat, turban, and bustle pad. I was able to use a TON of items from my wardrobe, and a few from Nicole, to set up a pretty full and varied shop. I had:
  • a woman's hat
  • a turban
  • a bustle
  • a man's round hat
  • a band box
  • a hat box
  • a shawl
  • a lace veil
  • a parasol
  • a reticule
  • handmade gloves
  • a length of whitework edging
  • an ostrich plume
  • a fur tippet
  • three kerchiefs
  • a coral necklace
  • a chemisette
It was a small event, but we had a very good time. And how could you not when you're spending the day with friends, interpreting history? :)

My camera died... But Nicole had her really nice camera and took pictures for us.The Virginia humidity obliterated my lovely curls... *sigh* I should be looking fresher at Costume College!

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The wind kept knocking my hats around! 
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Cap was tied too loosely...
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Joseph did period cooking and made some AMAZING chicken. It had bacon in it. Literally. Yum!
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We learned about the 1822 courthouse.
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Sarah tells us about the super cool (ha!) geothermal system used to regulate the temperature of the building.
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Nicole let me be her guinea pig for her new 19th century last. I didn't mind at all. ;-) Here's my new shoes! You can bet I'll be wearing them at Costume College. If you are interested in handmade 18th and 19th century women's shoes, Nicole writes at Diary of a Mantua-Maker
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