Monday, July 6, 2015

I Made a Thing: The Kirtle Dirndl

Because of My Stupid Wrist (TM), I've been focusing more on "modern" sewing projects that don't have to be entirely hand sewn. I've made curtains for the kitchen, a maxi dress that I should take pictures of, and now this. I've been very inspired by modern, high fashion dirndls, particularly some made of African fabrics. I had resigned myself to being good and using stash fabric, when I came across this amazing fabric that was grown, woven, and dyed in Mali at Joann of all places. I couldn't resist, and flitted around the store picking up other things to make my dream a reality. Originally, the bodice was going to be made of a navy cotton twill, but I made some cutting boo-boos and now the bodice is made of denim. But I'm actually VERY pleased with the change, as the denim has more depth in color and texture than the twill. So yay, happy accident!

In My Stupid Wrist (TM) news, the cortisone didn't seem to help, so I'm waiting on authorization to have an MRI. Hopefully that will tell us something and my doctor can decide on the next step. I've reached the point where I feel I'm d----d if I do and d----d if I don't, so I may as well start hand sewing a little bit again and be less miserable. It's been a rough month since I got back from my trip home to CA.

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Sunday, May 10, 2015

Changes for the Couture Courtesan

It's been quiet around here...

And here's why.

I'm about to embark on four days of doctor's appointments (wrist-related and otherwise), followed by a week and a half with my family and friends in California and Hawaii. I'm hopeful that things will pick up after that, but it all remains to be seen.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

A Rumor in St. Petersburg

This outfit is rather a comedy of errors...

A couple months ago I got the insane idea that I needed a WWI-era outfit for Military Through the Ages this year. It didn't help that Nicole was all for it! Even though I should have been using the time to thoughtfully finish my Felicity sack gown for the Francaise Dinner, I went whole hog and started from undergarments out.

I made an envelope chemise (no pictures, sorry...) and a corset, based on the 1917 pattern in Jill Salen's "Corsets." Unfortunately I got overzealous in taking it in because my mockup of the pattern straight from the book was too big, and the corset ended up a tad small. Still wearable, but I also got the stomach flu days before the event (more on that later...) so I actually decided not to wear it because I was still recovering when Nicole and I went to MTA that Sunday.

I bought a reprint of an original pattern and had perfect fabric in the stash for a darling dress. And then it snowed like CRAZY and I was terrified of being cold, so I begged Michael to give me some wool plush from his stash so I could make a nice warm suit instead. He conceded, and I drafted my own pattern for a 1916 skirt and "Russian" or "cossack" coat, although Michael kindly did the sleeves for me as the deadline drew ever nearer.

Things were going well until I got the stomach flu, at which point all bets were off. But after getting some amazing  anti-nausea medication, I jumped back in the game with two days left. As a result, the finishing is rushed and there are things I want to finish properly before wearing this again. There are no pictures of the blouse that is under the coat because it has no buttons!

I wanted more than just to be a WWI civilian, so I decided to add "suffragette" to the impression. I designed and ordered "Votes for Women" buttons to hand out, and Michael hand lettered my "Votes for Women" sash (bless him!).

And as for the title of this point, I realized my outfit bore a resemblance to 1997 Anastasia... ;-)

Here are some pictures!

A couple that Angela took:

Monday, February 2, 2015

1815 Ball Gown for NOLA

I am so pleased with this gown. It was one of those rare projects that turned out exactly as I had envisioned it. And I got to use some of the silver spangles that were originally for my not-a-wedding-dress!

The gown is made of cotton tulle and cotton lace over pale pink lightweight silk. Each spangle was sewn and knotted individually because the tulle is transparent, so I couldn't cross from one spangle to the other using one thread. It took, but was well worth it. Luckily skirts from this period are not very full at all, and the bodices are tiny!

The construction methods I used drew from a variety of similar drawstring gowns, which have accumulated on my Pinterest. This well-documented gown served as a main resource, however. I chose to make the tulle and silk as a single gown instead of doing two separate gowns, to save myself time and sanity. This gown in the Met was constructed this way, and was very helpful when making my ball gown!

 The paper flowers are from Dames a la Mode!

The bottom of the sleeve is finished with a drawstring

The back of the bodice. The side back pieces are top stitched to the back pieces, as are the shoulder straps.

Inside the bodice. Only the shoulder straps and side pieces are lined (in linen), as these are places that receive a lot of wear and stress from the arm.

Another shot of the lined pieces.

The front gathered section has a drawstring along the top and is gathered to fit the skirt along the bottom. 

Inside of the bodice back. The gown closes with drawstrings at the top and bottom of the bodice back pieces.

View of the drawstring channel from the outside of the back.

The skirt. I just love how ethereal and feminine this combination of materials is!

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Paletot for Sale!

I'm selling this paletot. It's wool lined in silk and trimmed with velvet. It's a size small... Hard to take measurements for a loose-fitting garment! There are more pictures of it in this blog post. $150 plus shipping. I have Paypal!


Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Sort-of Tutorial! Early 19th Century Round Reticule

I knew I wanted an unusual and fun reticule for NOLA, but with very limited time it had to be something easy to make (as much as I would have like to embroider one!).

 I came across a handful of these circular reticules, and decided to make one inspired by the silk examples. The cotton ones are lovely, and I had cotton in the stash. But if you zoom in on the cotton ones, you'll see that all of the pieces are meticulously hemmed, and then the puffy part is whip gathered to the circles (what I call the medallions). Phew. That was a lot of handwork, and as I said I had very little time, and my wrist problems as well. (Also the opening on the cotton one is different than the silks).

Since there are no interior images of the silk bags, the construction is a bit of guess work. Ultimately, I made four silk-covered medallions--two for each side--and sandwiched the gathered strip in-between them. I used a very fine slip stitch to put it together.

The medallions are cut from pasteboard and then covered with silk similar the way you would cover a button with fabric, cutting it larger than the form and gathering it to fit snugly.

The two silk bags vary quite a bit in size; one is just over 6" across and the other is just over 10". Mine falls in the middle at 8" across.

I figured out the size to cut the pieces by figuring that the medallions were roughly 1/3 of the finished "diameter" of the entire circle bag. I guess I was going for 9" finished, and ended up with 8" because I forgot to add seam allowance to the gathered section... So my medallions are 3" across. Then I cut a long strip of silk for the gathered section. Mine measured 6" wide, and I honestly can't remember how long the strip was... But I actually cut some off because it would have been too full. So that's something you can eyeball and finish according to your taste. The ends of the strip need to have channels sewn in for the draw strings before being gathered and attached to the medallions.

Again because of time and wrist constraints, I only decorated one medallion, although having both decorated seems to be the norm. I just did simple chain stitch in silk thread and silver spangles (I literally have thousands...).

I hope that makes some kind of crazy sense! I'm calling this a sort-of tutorial because I don't have step-by-step instructions, but I really feel I should be doing helpful things like construction posts more often!

Sunday, January 18, 2015

NOLA 1815: Fox Fur and Pink Silk Pelisse

For daywear, I created a pelisse made of pink silk taffeta, interlined with wool in the bodice and sleeves, and lined with pale pink lightweight silk. The whole was trimmed with white fox fur (yep, the real stuff!). It's very simple in design, relying on the sumptuousness of the fabric and the novelty of the hood to make a statement. It actually kept me quite warm, since silk has insulating properties and acted as a good windbreaker! I wore it over my trusty old Swiss dot and lace insertion gown and a new antique lace chemisette.

I didn't realize that the darned belt had slipped down in some of the pictures *grumble* so please ignore that...! I think it's interesting to see how the colors change in different qualities of light. The battlefield pictures were taken on a very overcast day, and the French Quarter pictures were in brilliant sunlight.

Michael blocked the hats for Nicole and me, and we trimmed them. They are made of shaggy rabbit fur felt.

My main inspiration was this 1815 fashion plate, although you see hoods on pelisses and spencers in the years preceding and following.

For construction, I followed this extant silk pelisse. The bodice and skirt are fully lined. The lower edge of the bodice and the upper edge of the skirt have the raw edges turned in and roughly stitched together. Then the two are stitched together along with a piece of tape to help strengthen the seam.

The fur was lightly tacked on so that it can be removed eventually, and I might turn this into an 18th century pelisse, which is what I originally bought the materials for! I attached the fur to the outer fabric before putting the lining in, so that you wouldn't see big nasty tacking stitches on the inside of the garment.

And of course, everything was hand sewn.