Sunday, January 21, 2018

HSM '18: January: Mend, Reshape, Refashion: Riding Habit Shirt

Last summer, after I knew that I needed a riding habit shirt for Costume College, I started researching them. I say "research"... it was a very unscientific search, consisting mostly of bloggers who've already made them. There's known examples at The Hereford Museum and Art Gallery, which was the basis for the pattern by JP Ryan. At the time, I didn't want to spend the money on a pattern plus shipping, which is so expensive to Canada, and then exchange rates, which are terrible, and possibly customs fees. I would have been paying at least $40 Cdn, JUST for the pattern. Ouch!

So I hunted down made ones. Here is a not-complete list of bloggers who've made habit shirts:

American Duchess

The Fashionable Past
Diary of a Mantua-Maker
Ruffles not Rifles
Couture Mayah
A Fractured Fairytale
Before the Automobile
Look What I Made
Reconstructing History

From these, I gleaned measurements, and created the best set I could come up with. I had some linen leftover from my shift, but a limited amount. With guidance about mens' shirts from Costume Close-Up and La Couteriere Parisienne, I decided on the best use of what linen was left, and then took a deep breath and cut it out.

In the interest of following these lovely ladies' footsteps, I cut my linen so:

Body: 24" Wide x 30" long, split 16"/14" Front-Back, split CF to neck, and slit 12" in the center (6" on either side of CF)
Sleeves: 15" wide x 23" long
Sleeve gusset: 6" square
Neck Gusset: 3" square
Collar: 16" x 5"
Cuffs: 8.5" x 3"

I purposely did not cut ruffles. If I choose to add them, they often would have been cut from a nicer material than the rest of the shirt, and I was so limited on fabric. These measurements include 1/2" seam allowances. (But for real, if you struggle with creating a pattern, JP Ryan's habit shirt pattern is wonderful!!)

I know I started the reasearch while I was on vacation in early June, but I don't think I actually got started until after I got home again. While on vacation, I took the sleeves off of my shift and narrowed and shortened them. Some of the habit shirt pieces got cut out of the those scraps. Sewing with linen is so lovely, so I opted to do it all by hand. Everything was going well, and in early July I thought I actually had a chance at having it ready and wearable for Costume College!

Until... I put in the neck gussets upside down. I had folded the little gusset squares in half and attached the raw edges to my neck slits, opted not to flat-fell the seams, gathered the neckline and attached it to the collar, AND sewn the collar down. I figured that the seams would be on the inside, and then I could flat-fell them down after CoCo. When I went to try it on, that's when I noticed that the raw seams faced UP for the whole world to see. Argh! I also wasn't happy with the fit -- I'd made a channel for the back waist to gather through, which made it feel weird around the shoulders and center back, and made it ridiculously short (the tie would have gone VERY high around my torso), plus one cuff was a lot bigger than the other. I was discouraged and put it in the Naughty Pile. I took a modern dress shirt to CoCo for my habit class instead.

While at CoCo, I picked up JP Ryan's habit shirt pattern in the marketplace. She'd had a couple on display and one for sale that was purchased by another attendee, and they were all BEAUTIFUL, so I wanted to pick it up if I could. Exchange rates were still terrible, but at least I didn't have to pay for shipping, and guaranteed no customs fees! I read the directions a few times, intending to get more linen and start over, all while thinking that my original attempt could be salvaged for something else.

Sometimes it's lucky that it takes me forever to decide on stuff. Finally, towards the end of 2017, I decided that I really wanted to put some serious thought into getting the riding habit done. I'd picked up some quilted silk in LA to make into a petticoat (done in September), to wear under the habit petticoat, and while I could get the petticoat done as soon as I find the fabric in my stash, I still needed the habit shirt done before I could commit to fitting the waistcoat or jacket.

And then it kinda fits into this month's Historical Sew Monthly 2018. I WAS going to relegate this project to "salvage fabric", but then concluded that I could just... mend it. Take apart the offending fit issues and re-shape it, the right way. And so I did.

The pieces came off very easily - hooray for handsewing! I even could have salvaged most of the thread (I didn't, but I could have). The collar, neck gussets, back hem, and longer cuff were all removed within an hour. I made sure to put the neck gussets on the proper side, and this time flat-felled them down. I reused my gathering thread to gather the neckline back onto the collar, and finished that area up. The back got its small seam allowance turned in and tacked down, and some small pleats taken at the centre back to narrow it a bit. That will get tacked to a tie when I can pick up some narrow twill tape. Finally, I cut almost 2" off the cuff (what was I thinking the first time??) and reattached that. All told, the alterations took 3 hours of hand sewing time to reattach, and I was back to where it had been when it went on the naughty pile.

Next up I had to figure out my button situation. JP Ryan and her assistant, Feather, had had some pre-made Dorset buttons for sale at the class, but I had lacked any cash to buy them. They can be purchased from Wm, Booth, Draper, but for a variety of reasons, this isn't an option right now. I couldn't bring myself to use modern plastic buttons, I just couldn't. So I looked up how to make Dorset buttons and made some, using modern embroidery floss and the rings that I had pulled off of the tie-backs that had come with the curtains for my curtain-along dress. The rings were just slightly larger than the 1/2" ones recommended by JP Ryan, so I went with it. I used this tutorial to create them. I had trouble getting 8 even spokes around the ring, but I ended up liking the odd-number spoked buttons better. Each button took around 20 minutes to make (timed while I was watching Forensic Files -- one button per episode).

Finally, I made buttonholes on the cuffs and collar of the shirt, and attached my buttons. Aside from the tie and some kind of cravat or stock, my habit shirt is complete!

2017 Year in Review

I didn't really sew a lot this past year. I'm not that surprised, I had a rather busy year! Between taking care of my mental health, a new position at work, and other various events, I ended up knitting more than sewing. I've included a couple of major projects here.

Mid-Victorian chemise and drawers

Blue Regency Gown

18th century petticoats

Miramar Dress and Wonder Unders slip

NutMeg Sews' Pineapple Reticule

Victorian Tea Gown

1780s stays


Star Trek TOS Season 3 Skant

18th Century Cap

Finished Curtain-Along Gown

Quilted Petticoat

Taylor Mitts

Petticoat for Pocket Hoops

Salal Sweater

1780s Split Rump

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Victorian Tea Gown (1882)

I got a bee in my bonnet to make a tea gown 'round about June. I thought it would be great for comfy Sunday wear at Costume College. I was right :D

This was a very straightforward make from Truly Victorian. I made my usual adjustment to the bust area (removing roughly 3"), and lowered the necklines just a tad (half an inch or so). I remembered seeing a gorgeous tea gown made in the curtain-along fabric on Festive Attyre's round-up, so I used a similar looking print for mine, liberated from my mum's fabric stash in early 2014:

It's a very standard weight quilting cotton, and I have TONS of it, which is great because I love it.

This came together in just a few days. The bodice and hem are lined with a medium-weight natural linen. I polled my Facebook and Instagram feeds for button options. The three colours I had the most of from my Gramma's button stash each had their cheerleaders, but I went with brown.

I put the buttonholes too far into the gown and so had to put the buttons on the very edge of the front seam. Something I will keep in mind for my next Victorian make. Buttons and facings got sewn while watching Downton Abbey, and I had SO MANY pins for the facing that I got to make tons of flowers in my pin cushion!

The back neckline did not get a facing, and instead was covered by self bias-tape. I used a whole yard to make the tape, so I have a ton of that now too.

I haven't put darts into the bodice yet, because I'm still undecided on the fit! Without darts, the gown fits my uncorseted body perfectly (so great for lazy Sunday wear!), but if I want to wear a corset, I would need darts to fit it better. Hard choices! It also needs some trimming. The fabric is so busy, but I found this wonderful tea gown at the Met that would be perfectly matched to this gown. (oooh now that I'm looking at it again, I really wanna get started on putting that gorgeous trim on!)

On Sunday I wore it with a cami and leggings underneath, a petticoat (also by Truly Victorian), and accessorized with my pineapple reticule and the honeycomb shawl that I thought would be extra weight in my suitcase. It came in handy, as this was the least amount of layers I wore all weekend and I was cold!

Saturday, December 30, 2017


When I saw Fresh Frippery's post on a group of dresses made with IKEA's Ljusoga bedsheets, I knew I needed to get in on this gorgeous fabric! Shortly after, I had sold my old phone and had a little extra cash, so I bought the king-sized set and waited for inspiration to strike.

I can't remember if inspiration struck so much as that I wanted to get going on this project. The Modern Mantua-Maker's stunning Italian gown was definitely one inspiration, as was the Italian gown pattern in the An Agreeable Tyrant catalog. As much as I love the pleated back gowns, I wanted to try a new style, and the quarter-backed Italian gowns were all the rage this past year. So that's what I decided to do.

I started with petticoats, as I usually do. I hand-sewed the printed one, and machined the white taffeta one. I also misjudged skirt lengths and got not enough of the taffeta, so it is extra short! I've since added a ruffle that I can't decide if it looks silly or not.

White poly taffeta (front view).

Worn over the white one (back view).

Then it was time to make the dress. I again used Reconstructing History's 822 pattern as a base, and then modified it heavily using the gown pattern on Page 39 of Patterns of Fashion 1.

Original pattern in pale green, finished (mostly) pattern in dark green.

My mock-up was OK...

Aside from the stays issue. The grey cover shows where the stomacher-front stays hit on my body. I didn't want that much showing over top, so that's when I decided I needed a new pair of stays!

I'd made a custom draft from Stays & Corsets, but was really disappointed with the fit (the draft has you take off a minimal amount of circumference, resulting in a snug t-shirt fit and not a supportive garment). I'll write more about them in another post, but I ended up making the 1780s stays from a pattern originally provided by, which I believe is a straight-up draft from Corsets and Crinolines. It is no longer available there.

And I was really glad I did, because the new one changed the shape of my bust! My original pair flattened my bust and pushed it up, this one pushes it more forward. This was the shape I wanted for this gown. I did have to add some width and height at the CF neckline to ensure overlap and modesty, but that was an easy fix. Then it was time to forge ahead!

According to the date stamps on my photos, this dress got picked up again roughly 2.5 weeks before Costume College. Nothing like the last minute to get started. Here's the finished back on July 11:

And my first on-me fitting with the proper bits on July 13:

I'm putting this unflattering photo in because of that whole "myth of perfection" series that ran around the blogosphere last year. Welcome to what I look like when I sew on days where the temperature reached +30C. For comparison, as I write this it's -35C, and I look much the same ;)

I was pleased with the fit, and the amount of overlap I had at CF. I ended up cutting a lot of it off, but I was grateful for it.

By July 15, the bodice had sleeves, so I moved on to the skirt. I used the POF gown again, cutting my panels the full height of the diagram, and shaped the front top edge before pleating. I used a full width of the duvet cover, and a little extra (which I machined on with cotton thread; by then I just didn't want to do another long plain seam; and also had to piece a tiny corner on at the bottom where it met the skirt). I cut and hemmed slits for pocket access and hemmed the front edges (thought I had while stitching the hem: were silk selvedges nice in the 1700s, and you wouldn't need to hem them? Brilliant!). Then I pleated forever, having to redo it at least once. I split the center back to accomodate the point at the back, but stitched it back up a couple inches. I had two layers of pins going on to keep everything in place, and semi live-blogged about the process on Instagram:

Getting there... #18thcentury #handsewn #duvetcover #pinsforever

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A note on the back construction: I used a technique previously known as "weird running whip stitch thingy" (Stay-ing Alive) or "the stitch with no name" (Burnley & Trowbridge; link goes to a YouTube video of how to do it) and is now known as the English Stitch (The American Duchess Guide to 18th Century Dressmaking). I LOVE this stitch, it makes a neat, tiny seam that is very secure, and gets your back sewn together with one pass of the needle. Very efficient!

I finished the bulk of the work in a week! I sewed mostly in the evenings after work, for 3-4 hours at a time, while watching RuPaul's Drag Race or Star Trek: Deep Space Nine on Netflix, and the skirt was completed on July 15 by 6pm. My fingers hurt (really need to focus on proper thimble usage) and I was so proud of what I'd accomplished.

The petticoat and gown got hemmed a few days later, and I despaired on trimming. By this time, talk was going around the blogosphere about "millinery", a term I'd only heard applied to hats before but seems to have meant all the little finishing touches (so, kinda like a hat) like ruffles and accessories. I made a couple of little ruffles to go into the elbows of this gown but did not have the brain power to suss out a neckline treatment. So I cut a length of scrap taffeta with pinking shears and tied it into a bow to pin to the neckline, and cut a triangle of voile to use as a neckerchief and fill the neckline in. (I needed it anyway, the straps I added to the stays were totally visible on my shoulders.)

A few hours before the gala, I took a quick peek into the dealers hall, where a booth was set up with almost every kind of trim anyone could want. I picked out a pleated organza (certainly poly) and turquoise velvet ribbon and rushed upstairs to start sewing it on.

All in all, I'm really happy with this dress! It was definitely a challenging project, but it suited where I am in my sewing journey, and I'm looking forward to the next one.

Friday, December 29, 2017

Curtain-Along Gown

Back in 2013, I was utterly charmed by the curtain-along gown, hosted by Festive Attyre. It was so neat to see everyone in their gowns, how widely the print could be used across the decades! It wasn't until I saw Amanda's dress-in-a-day gown, however, (which I found months after the dress was posted) that I decided I need to join in. I kept an eye on Amazon and finally picked up some curtain panels, 3 cream and 1 black. (I'm still on the hunt for 2 more black panels, just so you know...)

#curtainalong gown is nearly finished! Just needs a hem :)

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I don't remember the timeline on this anymore. I started sewing it while I was watching The Amazing Race on cable TV, intending to hand-sew the entire thing -- my first 100% handsewn gown -- and see how long it would take. I'm pretty sure it was 2014, with a push of finishing in 2015, where it sat without a hem for another 2 years. I initially wasn't going to take it to Costume College, feeling that I didn't have time to finish the hemming, but I did end up taking it, and hemming it on Thursday in between my limited class and the opening of registration. I wore it on Saturday of Costume College.

Because it's been so long since I started, I'm not really sure what some of my thought processes were. My petticoat was weirdly long, puddling on the floor at my feet. When I tried it on over a bum pad, the back length was fine, but the front was still too long. I pinned it up and gave it a really fast hem, trying to angle in nearly 4" of fabric at center front. (I need to take that out and do it properly!)

The cat liked it though. Hiding under skirts is his favourite!

The gown hem is also much deeper at front than sides or back, but because it's open, it was a lot easier to do.

I had fitted it over a pair of stays with a stomacher. I used the Reconstructing History pattern as the bodice base, with guidance from The Fashionable Past for construction, and Gown #3 in Costume Close-up for the sleeve, trimming, and skirt tying-up placement. The trim was cut with pinking shears and gathered by hand before being applied.

And how long did it take to hand-sew? Not that long. I can't even estimate for this one since it took so long to do it, but my recent hand-sewn gown was done (sans petticoat) in a week of mostly 3-4 hour chunks.

The Facts:

100% cotton

Pattern: Started out in life as Reconstructing History 822

Year: 1770-ish

Notions: cotton thread

How historically accurate is it? I would probably pass in-period

Hours to complete: at a guess, 30-40.

First worn: July 29, 2017 at Costume College

Total cost: $50 CDN

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Costume College 2017: The Recap

Content note: anxiety & related ramblings

Many months later, I want to share my experiences at Costume College this past summer. I wrote it awhile ago and have just been procrastinating on getting it edited and picture-fied. The weather here is sitting at a balmy -32C, so what better time to share a trip to southern California in July? ;)

I was a big nervous ball of energy leading up to Costume College this year! I didn't finish everything I wanted to bring, and I had to be OK with that, but what I did bring was great! About a week before we left, Nicole had decided not to wear any costumes at all. Since we had planned to wear Sarah and Jareth for the gala, this now meant I didn't have to bring Jareth (or a wig). In light of my wanting to keep luggage as light as possible, and bring as many overlapping outfits as I could, I had a few days to think about what my outfit plans were. In the end, I brought every 18th century piece I had, mid-Victorian (because petticoats), and the tea gown (because petticoats!). I tried to accessorize as much as possible, again overlapping as much as I could. At the last minute, I tossed in a knitted shawl, thinking it would probably be extra weight.

The cat definitely would have been extra weight. He did not get packed.

Wednesday was travel day. There were four of us on the same flght, but as we'd booked separately, we were all over the plane. I went to pick up Nicole at 5am, but had to go back home for my sunglasses! I nearly left them behind, but hello, California in July. I need to protect my eyes. Luckily we live close together. California seemed very hot to me, with its low 90s and 88% humidity. Edmonton is comparatively very dry, and I met many people over the weekend who were from the Carolinas and Virginia who were so kind in agreeing that it was hot... for me. I resolved to stay inside as much as possible and thoroughly enjoyed the outdoor pool at sunset. We made a trip to a nearby Target to pick up sandwich makings and breakfast materials and snacks, and we got super distracted by all the fun socks for sale. Target, we miss you. We didn't know the hotel had a very local shuttle, so we walked there and took an Uber back, and I managed to burn one shoulder on the walk. Curse you, Canadian tan!

the view from our room. Nice :)

On Thursday, my travelling companions headed to Universal Studios, while I had a limited class in the morning: Riding Habits with the JP Ryan (omgomgomg). I opted not to dress up though I had to bring the bits and bobs necessary for fitting (shift, stays, a petticoat, and either a habit shirt or fitted dress shirt). The class went very well! First we all had to be remeasured for waist length, as nearly all of us had measured wrong. We got a pattern with personalized suggestions on where to make alterations, and she showed us how to adjust the patterns for that. I made all of my adjustments to the front, since that is where my squish factor is. I was the first person to finish my waistcoat mock-up, since it turns out that I'm really a very average size, except for the squish! As I worked on the jacket, I stayed dressed in my bits and bobs, and thought boy, this was actually not bad (temperature, comfort, feeling like I belonged... take your pick). I was comfortable in all of the layers.

After the class, I went back to the room for lunch and to do some sewing until it was time to go back down for the opening of registration. I watched Forensic Files and stitched for like 4 hours, it was wonderful :) I'd started a cap to go with my 18th c. dresses before I left, found I had left the ruffle at home (dang it, I was so sure I'd packed it...), and quickly tried on my curtain-along gown to mark the hem and hem it. I originally hadn't planned to bring it, but the rearrangement of my costume plans meant I now had space in "the schedule" for it, but it needed a hem! The petticoat was weirdly long, I'm not sure what I was thinking when I made it. The back was fine over the bum roll, but the front was almost 4" too long. It got the world's fastest and most awkward hem.

The other Big Events on Thursday were the opening of Registration at 7, where there were limited numbers of limited classes available to try and get into (I really wanted to do the fabric district tour on Monday, but had forgotten it on my form), and the pool party. I had waited to eat dinner partly because of nerves and partly because I had no idea when my roommates would be back, and I wanted to eat with them if they hadn't done so yet. They arrived around 7:30 I think? I had terrible wi-fi connection for the first couple days and no cell service, we nearly missed each other! So we got changed for the pool party first and then went to eat, returning as the party was winding down. Oops. But I found my heretofore online-only friend Sara as we'd planned to wear Star Trek TOS skants together, and we had a lovely conversation for our first meeting :D

I loooove the "spiral" design.

Friday was mostly a "take in all the sights" day. The marketplace didn't open until after the social in the evening, which was fine. I went to a number of unlimited classes, first supporting NutMeg Sews in her presentation on costuming our living history site, Fort Edmonton Park :D I was wearing the Butterick 1840s dress, which I'd finally put the last bits on (posts here!) and finally gotten to wear. I got many lovely compliments on it. Most were intrigued by the asymmetrical pleating on the bodice. Perhaps the best compliment I got was from Jennifer Rosbrugh of Historical Sewing, who said (somewhat paraphrased) that I looked like a movie star ;) (What she said was that I reminded her of the actress who played Jane Eyre in the 2006 version, and had really nailed the look, so yay me!)

The social was... overwhelming, for this socially anxious introvert. I wore the Star Trek skant again as that had been my planned social outfit and I didn't have anything else. I did one tour of the room and then hid in the hallway. Maybe because we'd missed the beginning again because we'd gone for dinner and then gotten distracted by the dead mall the restaurant was in, but I heard other people say that they find the social the most anxiety-inducing event too. Ah well. There were some seriously amazing outfits there!

I found the cap ruffle in my luggage earlier in the day (I knew I'd packed it!), and had to attach it and the muslin cuffs to my gown for the next day. Before bed, I put my hair into rags to ensure I had Big Hair the next day. Ready!

On Saturday I got myself laced into stays and put on all of the layers for my curtain-along gown, including the linen neckerchief I made ages ago, and the mitts that Asa (Fashion Through History) had made for me. I felt pretty amazing :D I was also very comfortable! The only time I felt overly warm was when I'd gone into an area that wasn't as well-air-conditioned as some of the rooms, and that lasted all of 20 minutes. The curtain-along host, Jen Thompson, found me in the afternoon, and as I walked out of a room, someone said "there's another one of you 5 meters that way" but I never found them while we were dressed in the same fabric. (There was actually two others! One can be seen here on Jen's Instagram, and the other here on American Duchess.)

I found some trim in the marketplace that was perfect for the trimming I had in mind for the IKEA gown, right around the time I was going to go upstairs and get undressed for a couple hours anyway, so I spent another happy and slightly rushed couple hours attaching it and chatting with my other roommate while she got ready for the gala. I went for dinner with a beautifully costumed group of people (omg they looked so amazing) and then we went back for the gala. I mostly stood in the hallway with one of my travelling companions, just admiring everyone, who all looked amazing. I can't even begin to describe the amount of amazingness in that room.

The finished IKEA gown!

The #yegsewistinla contigent at #costumecollege2017 😁 love these ladies!

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On Sunday I wore a teagown. I wore leggings and a camisole, no corset, and one petticoat, and was ridiculously comfortable all day. Except -- I was also cold! When I went up to my room for lunch, I also retrieved that shawl that I had brought but hadn't expected to need. I also had my last limited class, reverse applique sewing with The Lady Detalle. Before it started, I had a last burst of anxiety that my handsewing skills wouldn't be up to the task, but it was just fine :) I got pretty far, but I started with an easy template, a "C".

#ootd #costumecollege2017 #victorian #trulyvictorian #teagown

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On Monday, we piled into the bus to head to the garment district. It was AH-MAZING. Many people had told me to go to Home Fabrics for silk, and they were not joking. The whole store was just incredible, racks and racks and racks of gorgeous fabric, and on two floors. I made a purchase that we left with the bus, and then went to explore with a small group (we totaled 7). At one point we split up, and I went to the millinery store, where I got 20 yards of bonnet straw and a cute little tricorn hat, and at another store I picked up some large hook and eyes to use on my eventual riding habit. Then I bought more silk at Home Fabrics, and hit the wall. There was so much to see and look at and try to find, and we only looked at a small portion of stores in one tiny corner of the district! It was really warm too, though it didn't feel as oppressive as it had the day we arrived, and even though I slathered myself in only SPF 30 sunscreen, I didn't burn at all.

Our trip home on Tuesday was delayed by several hours, so we got the dubious pleasure of spending 6 or 7 hours in LAX, but even that was not enough to dampen the amazing weekend we had at Costume College, and we spent a lot of time planning for next year. I can hardly wait!

Plus we got to see this enormous airplane!:

I am so grateful for the people I went with and the people I met, and especially the people who went out of their way to keep me company at various points throughout the weekend. I hope I didn't impose on you all too much. I had such a wonderful weekend, anxiety and all, and it was your amazingness that made it amazing!

Thursday, August 24, 2017

HSM '15 #6: Out of Your Comfort Zone:1840's Dress, Part 3

Part One (Introduction), Part Two (Bodice and partial sleeves)

December 2015

Well friends, I did finish my dress in time for the challenge it was made for, aside from closures. I started to put them on and then my thread simply would not behave and tangled constantly, no matter how much I waxed it. So I put them on a bit later. I still have to make the thread loops for the sleeve buttons and attach them, and I also want to remove the skirt and reattach it on a band like the instructions say to, as it's sliiiightly too long where it is, attached to the bottom of the bodice. It sat on my dress form for months, because it was too hot all summer to put it on!

August 24, 2017

When Costume College was starting to approach at a much faster rate than it seemed in November, I knew I wanted to bring this gown with me. It was nearly finished! I only needed a waist closure, sleeve buttons, and to hopefully fix the skirt (as above, remove it from the edge of the waist, attach it to a band, and reattach it behind). I know I was anxious when I decided to do it, though I can't remember the exact date. I sat down with Riverdale on Netflix and a seam ripper, and started to go. It took a long time to pull it out, but pull it out I did, and reattached it to a bit of twill tape that had once been a drawstring in a hoody. I had almost thrown it out, but realized in time that it was a great bit of twill tape!

Once it was back on, it still seemed a bit long, but I also had no easy way to get into it by myself to check. I decided to leave it alone, and it came with me to Costume College. Once there, I attached a skirt hook and bar, the vintage glass buttons for the sleeves, and thread loops. I hated the loops immediately and cut them off, and attached hook and eyes under the button instead. Then I prayed it would all come together.

And it did! I wore a pair of modern heels with this, not more than 2" (they are my regular shoes for my old lady feet!), the corded petticoat (unstarched), and two 18th century petticoats - one chambray, one poly taffeta. The hem barely skimmed the floor. And it was just lovely. The shape was nice and soft, I loved the feeling of all my skirts swinging around my legs, and I got a lot of lovely compliments on it :D Most people were intrigued by the asymmetrical pleating over the bodice. My knitted pineapple reticule was the perfect accessory, and I got a lot of compliments on it too.

Perhaps the best compliment I received was when Jennifer Rosbrugh of Historical Sewing spotted me in the lobby, and I spotted her spotting me, and we had a lovely conversation about the construction of the dress (tiny fangirl squeeing -- I used her cartridge pleating tutorial when I did up the skirt!)

This dress was time-consuming, and the result is lovely. The only changes I made were to shorten the skirt a few inches (that I would have cut off anyway) and to move the shoulder seam towards the back. The only other thing I would change would be to get a little chemisette together to fill in the neckline, and to either balance the skirt differently so it doesn't gap at the back, or move the back closures to eliminate that.

Lumpy butt brought to you by my partner-in-crime trying to hide the gapping at the skirt.

The Challenge: 2015 #6: Out of Your Comfort Zone

Material: Cottons for gown and lining/facings

Pattern: Butterick 5832

Year: 1835-1840 (as per extant garment) (Thanks to Liz who found it!)

Notions: thread, hook & eye, vintage glass buttons, a bit of plastic boning, a scrap of poly taffeta and cotton yarn

How historically accurate is it?: Reasonably? I machined a lot of what wouldn't be visible, materials are plausible (except for the obvious man-made ones, and hand-finished anything that would show on the outside.

Hours to complete: I lost count. A lot. The sleeves had to be mostly hand sewn, I remember spending almost a week on them.

First worn: July 28, 2017 (Friday of Costume College)

Total cost: Dress fabric was from my mum's stash, taffeta was a remnant scrap, yarn was from my aunt's stash, glass buttons were salvaged from a long-ago garment by my gramma. Hooks & eyes, and the cotton broadcloth I used as lining/hem facing cost roughly $4 Cdn. To buy all new, I would expect to spend $80-100 Cdn.

HSM '18: January: Mend, Reshape, Refashion: Riding Habit Shirt

Last summer, after I knew that I needed a riding habit shirt for Costume College, I started researching them. I say "research"......