Sunday, August 17, 2014

HSF '14: #15 The Great Outdoors: A Regency Spencer

I really like having the challenges posted well in advance, allowing for planning. And procrastinating. And changing my mind because I procrastinated too long. (Have you noticed a theme yet?)

Initially, I wanted to make a riding habit. But I'm not yet confident in my 18th century sewing to have tackled a habit without a pattern. I finally did make a mock-up, but the fit was just awful. I need to spend a lot more time on it, but I don't have a ton of motivation to do so right now.

Lucky for me, sometimes inspiration strikes early and then sits. Case in point: this spencer. I was taken with the idea some months ago: I simply HAD to make a blue cotton velveteen spencer. I HAD to. I found the mockup I'd made ages ago (roughly 3 years ago) and the fit was still good, so out came the pattern and the blue velveteen. In quite short order, I had a jacket. I'm not totally sold on the pale lining (but it's growing on me! A lot!), but I'd already put the sleeves in. Maybe some decorative braiding some such will help perk it up. And of course, I had it finished to the point of closures and sleeve hemming, and tossed it aside in favour of something else. (Carefully. My cat is mostly grey but his fur is banded with white and black too. It clings to and shows up on EVERYTHING.)

I really need to stop doing that.

But then it worked out that since I couldn't finish the habit without rushing, and a spencer would be worn outside, especially with long sleeves... Ta da! It got finished :) It did take a bit longer than I was hoping it to. I came home Friday with the intent to finish it that night, but instead I washed and stored a whole bunch of veggies pulled from a friend's garden (we both came home with about 6 shopping bags of produce, and there's tons more to be harvested :D) and then the next day I woke up with a plague and spent the whole day pretty much sleeping. But today I feel much better, and finished it.

I also ended up hand-stitching the outside seams in place. It was pretty much impossible to photograph (I tried) but the layers wanted to bag out and wouldn't lay flat. Perhaps a good pressing would have done the trick, but I've never had luck with pressing velveteen, even with a towel underneath to protect the pile. I didn't always manage to keep the pale thread from showing on the outside, but hopefully the pile of the velveteen will keep it hidden :) It lays MUCH flatter now.

The Challenge: #15 The Great Outdoors
Fabric: dark blue cotton velveteen
Pattern: Sense and Sensibility Spencer Jacket
Year: 1810s?
Notions: 4 buttons, thread
How historically accurate is it?: In shape only, most likely. Cotton velveteen might be OK, but polyester lining and plastic buttons sure aren't ;)
Hours to complete: I didn't keep track. 6 or so.
First worn: Not yet (too hot!)
Total cost: The velveteen and buttons were gifted to me, and I used maybe 1/2 metre of the cream faux-silk that I got for $2/m... so about $1.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Regency Paisley Cotton Day Dress Bonus!!

My sister got married this past weekend at her now-husband's farm, and I had invited my friend with me to attend. Since I had just finished my day dress, and my friend had expressed interest in playing with her DSLR camera more to learn how to use it, I asked her to take some pictures of my dress. I quickly sewed up a chemisette (also from the La Mode Bagatelle pattern) to take with me. I didn't have a chance to hem the ruffle, though you can't really see it in these photos. I feel like my expressions are a bit odd in the photos, and you might notice my SUPER historically accurate chipped nails and flip flops (it was at least 30C and 60% humidity on all the days we were there. I sacrifice footwear when it's that hot. Please understand we spent 6 full months at or well below freezing last year! This kind of heat is just not what I'm used to!). But I hope you enjoy them anyway :)

Photo by EJ Harrison

Friday, August 1, 2014

HSF'14: #14 Paisley & Plaid: Regency Day Dress

There was a bit of excitement in my city this past week! While I am very positive I am not the only historical fashion enthusiast in town, I wasn't sure how to go about finding other people. I have a partner in crime who is quite happy to make dresses and wear them out with me, but we have a hard time getting together sometimes. I am not really interested in the focus groups, and I just don't have the energy to work up to creating a group myself (though I may still have to). Then, we found out that someone in our city is very passionate about Regency and is holding a ball in September! My partner in crime was THRILLED and has leapt into wardrobes with both feet. As it happened, I had a Regency gown planned for the Paisley & Plaid challenge, so I spent the night at her house where we had the unusual but enjoyable experience of making a pair of dresses from the same pattern. Within a 24 hour period, we both had dresses that were only in need of a few finishing touches, such as hems. I finished my dress the next day when I would normally be tempted to let it sit and then finish it right before I wanted to wear it. Sure does feel good to finish something, though!

I feel the need to tell you, lovely readers, that I have never liked paisley. I was probably in my early teens, and a lot of the linens I'd received from my grandparents (being hand-me-downs from the 70s, probably) had these horrible (I thought) paisley prints on them. E-yeuch! And even up until a few months ago, I hated paisley. What an awful motif, I thought. Well, while I'm still not a huge fan, when my mum's stash was available for picking and some paisleys in not-horrible-70s-prints came out, I knew I had a paisley challenge coming up, and I grabbed them for my own stash.

I'd wanted to try the La Mode Bagatelle pattern for some time. I liked that it was a complete wardrobe from the skin out, and was eager to see how it went together. My partner in crime was just finishing a bodiced petticoat as I arrived, and after a bit of pattern tracing, fabric choosing and washing, and supper, we cut our fabrics. I had to make a mock-up bodice, which I then used as the lining.

My partner in crime leapt into the construction with both feet, while I took the time to read the directions, sometimes several times over. I did not find them to be the clearest directions, so if you use this pattern and like to read directions, take the time to read them carefully. Despite that discrepancy in our working styles, we progressed at about the same rate.

We both felt that the band was a great idea, giving the bodice a bit more support to sit under the bust, rather than having the skirt start falling from the same place. We also felt that it was just a little too long, and cut ours shorter to better suit our tastes. I waited to gather my bodice until the false bib was in place, rather than gathering the layers individually. Before attaching the skirt, we added on our sleeves. I know she had to play with the size of the band to achieve the look she wanted, and I ended up taking mine in a bit well after the rest of the dress was completed (but before it was hemmed). After that, it was just attaching the skirt - she kept hers with a flat front and gathered in the back, I pleated mine starting at the edges of the false bib with most of the fullness concentrated at the back.

I took my dress home with only closures, hemming, and finishing the false bib to finish. It was a very productive day! We got through an entire season of Doctor Who as we sewed. And I probably could have pushed a bit harder and had it finished the same day I took it home, but in the end, I worked on it slowly and finished it the day after. Which is still good, I usually wait much longer to finish a dress! I really can't wait to wear this out somewhere :)

What the item is: Regency Cotton Day Dress
The Challenge: #14 Paisley & Plaid
Fabric: 4m of cotton paisley print (60" wide).
Pattern: La Mode Bagatelle false bib-front round gown with long sleeves
Year: 1810s?
Notions: thread, ribbon, self-covered buttons
How historically accurate is it? Probably not very. Fabric content, sure, pattern, maybe. Mostly machine sewn, with hand-finishing on the hems.
Hours to complete: A season of Doctor Who, including patterning.
First worn: Not yet, but hopefully soon!
Total cost: The fabric was from my mum's stash (so free to me), a bit of ribbon and broadcloth from my partner in crime's stash, three button bases left over from my last Regency dress that I got on sale... I'm just gonna call this one free :D (Oh, I will need to buy a bit of tape for the band facing, so it'll be around $1)

And a preview of it being worn! (Apologies for the bathroom selfie and cropping out my laundry-day hair. I broke my full length mirror a few weeks ago. Epic sad-face!)

Road to Costume College 2018

Gosh, where did the first half of the year go? (I know where, winter was unusually long and dark and cold, and it's effect lasted longer...