Monday, November 23, 2015

• Life of Late •

Life has been crazy for the last couple of weeks, hence the un-announced break from blogging! The main reason was that my sister was in the hospital, quite literally at death's door. She has and did have very bad lung problems, with one lung being completely dead, and the remaining lung being very badly infected. Her prognosis was not good, but thanks to God, she has made a full recovery. Praise the Lord for miracles!! She went from being in ICU on a ventilator to being at home on an oxygen bottle in just a week or so, with the infection being completely cleared up.

In any case, the stress of that situation had us all in very unproductive moods, so I haven't exactly sewn up a storm! Needless to say, our 18th century outfits went on the back burner, and will have to be resumed after Thanksgiving. Meanwhile, we're busy with cleaning the house and getting ready for Thanksgiving and company, which means I'll get to see my new little niece again! (She's the one who the gifts were for).

 In the mean time, here's a few pictures of what has been happening around here;

Snow. SNOW!!!!!!!

I absolutely love winter, so the 6 inches or so that we got made me exceedingly happy. And the way it coated the trees made me even happier. :) I like snow.
No, actually I love snow.

I did manage to sew a couple of baby projects last week! Shocking!
The first one was this adorable blue dress, made from a 1940s pattern. Believe it or not, I wanted this fabric for a dress for myself SO bad, until I realized that it had tiny baby rattles all over it. Then I was glad I hadn't bought it. ;)
It makes for the cutest little dress though, don't you think? It's a size 2, and I only lengthened know....six inches. Hardly any.

The other was this adorable (wait, I already said that!) really cute yellow dress! It is the epitome of girliness; I just love it! It is made of leftover fabric from my yellow 1940s dress, and the fun part is, I still have enough left for a bonnet or diaper cover! :)
Once again, I lengthened this dress something like six inches. I don't know why people thought little girls had to wear dresses that barely covered their cute little diapers! Goodness!
As with all of the little dresses I make, I just serge the hem edge so that one day when I have said munchkins (Lord willing!), I can hem them to the necessary length.

I just love making little clothes! And yes, just in case you were wondering, I AM going to make little boys' clothes. Eventually.
I just keep being drawn towards these fluffy little dresses.
Must think overalls!

To see the other projects for little ones I've made in the past, click here.

I'll be back next week (hopefully!) with a real post! In the mean time, have a wonderful, blessed Thanksgiving! 

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Friday, November 6, 2015

• 18th Century Sewing •

It has taken a long time for this to come about, but we're finally sewing 18th century garments!! At last!! 
Last month, Lily of Mode de Lis listed the JP Ryan stays pattern in her Etsy shop. It was the right size and a good price, so we bought it! It dawned on us shortly afterward that it would be fun to make colonial outfits for Thanksgiving, so we have since started working on our outfits, from the inside out (of course!).

Incidentally, the stays don't really look like anything on Thelma Lou, but that's because she just simply isn't cinch-able. 

We had a nice piece of striped ticking that worked great for the outside of our stays (the same fabric is used on my mom's stays). The "interfacing" of mine is linen; hers is cotton duck.

If you're my friend, you won't look too closely at the binding.....

The stays came together very easily, with the hardest part being sewing on the binding. I'm not exactly itching to make another pair of stays any time soon after that experience! I can only imagine how dreadful it would be to bind them with leather! Ugh!! My fingers would never forgive me if I tried something like that.

I really (really) didn't want to use reed at all for boning; the idea of having it break and having to replace it was NOT a good one to me. So I used 1/4" steel boning instead, and only boned a little over half of the corset. (That still ended up adding up to around 50 bones!) I put boning in next to all the seams, in the tabs, and other essential areas, and the rest was basically just in every other casing. I did sew boning casings all over the entire stays, however, because I found that it added a lot of stability.

I would definitely recommend purchasing the stays pattern one size smaller than your actual measurements. I did, and my stays lace up to within about 1 1/2-2" of each edge right off the bat.

I am a definite fan of this pattern though, as far as 18th century stays go! I absolutely love how the back extends much farther up in the back than the front. And the fact that they have no straps makes them actually practical to wear.

The fabric I lined my stays with is a reproduction quilting cotton (from 1855, incidentally, but it's pretty enough, I really don't care!). It's the same fabric as my garters and the lining of my reticule. You could say I like this fabric. :) In fact, I like it so much, I'm planning on getting more for an 1855 dress!

Eyelets! Their misshapen-ness gives them character. 
Right??! ;)

These first pictures show the stays and petticoat over my regency chemise; I hadn't sewn my colonial chemise yet when I took the pictures, so that's why.

In any case, the next layer is my plain gathered petticoat, which will be handy for several different eras!

My colonial chemise is made of muslin. We didn't have any linen on hand, or a place to buy it nearby, or the time to order it, or the inclination, so we just fudged it with muslin. It works for starters! 

I made it using my self-drafted chemise pattern (yes, I'm still prodigiously proud of myself for coming up with it, especially since I did so very early on in my sewing experience!). The sleeves have gussets, and all the seams are flat-felled.

The sleeves are ridiculously long in these pictures because they have not been hemmed yet. We figured it would make sense to wait until we have our jackets made so we can decide on the exact sleeve length we want. In the mean time though, they just look ridiculous! But that's fine! :)

I embroidered a pink "E" (a fancy one this time!) on the front, but this time I actually had a good excuse! My mom's chemise is exactly the same, so we had to have something to differentiate between the two. Hers, of course, has "Mom" embroidered in blue on the front. ;)

Ahh! The petticoat! I have had this thing partially assembled for....a long time. About a year, in fact! Evidence that I've been wanting to sew 18th century outfits for ages! :)

I had to redo the pleats at the waist though, because the original ones I had made were too big. I seem to have a mental block for figuring out pleats, so I'm always just trying to guess at how big and far apart to make them. Luckily for me, my first guess was the right one! Score!! :)

The petticoat is made out of linen, very nice quality linen, as a matter of fact! It's very nice and thick but also has a nice fine weave. It is about 135" around (equivalent to 3 widths of fabric), but cut crosswise so I could just seam it at the sides for pocket openings. And the 45" width of the fabric makes for the perfect length petticoat once it's hemmed! (No, neither of the petticoats are hemmed....just in case you were wondering!)

(Yes, Thelma Lou's stays disappeared! I didn't feel like taking the laces out just to fit them over her again, so she went without this time) 

The front pleats are pleated towards the center, while the back pleats go the opposite direction. The waistband is also linen, but a different, heavier weave than the main fabric. 

The way 18th century petticoats tie at the waist is so fun! I love how adjustable they are.

Incidentally, since I took these pictures, I started tossing around ideas for a bum roll, and tried socks, as Lily suggested. I really love how it looks! It adds just enough volume to look good, without being as voluminous as a freight train! ;)

On a side note, I didn't forget about hanging pockets! I'm working on embroidering mine, but haven't finished yet. Actually, I'm only on the first one, and I'm still trying to find a legitimate excuse to leave one of them un-embroidered. I haven't come up with anything yet. ;) I enjoy the embroidery, but it's the freehand drawing-on of the pattern that is not my favorite pastime. 

This cap is....rather unorthodox. I used the Kannik's Korner cap pattern, but unfortunately chose some rather too heavy linen to make it. By the time I was half done, I knew it wasn't going to work very well, so I decided to just go ahead and finish it on the machine. It turned out fairly well, considering, and it will work until I find some suitable cap fabric. It's fun to wear, even if it isn't made right! :) And it stays on miraculously well! The only problem is trying to smash my hair into submission under there!

Confession time; I am guilty of committing the ultimate trespass any seamstress can commit. 
I bought a cloak! Dreadful, isn't it!! ;)
I wanted a cloak really bad, but after searching high and low for wool, I decided that it would be cheaper to just buy one than to make one. So I went ahead and purchased the Short Cape from Jas. Townsend. I am very happy with it! The 24" long description makes it sound *so* short, but it is actually the perfect length, and much longer than one would imagine! It falls right at wrist length, which is ideal for being able to still do things without fighting the cloak. AND, it's SO soft and warm.

It has a lovely little collar, and the most beautiful pewter clasp. Jas. Townsend makes their own pewter clasps, in fact! Bonus! :)

It is lined with coordinating blue cotton. I was reading this article about cloaks while I was researching them, and I found it very helpful! Although there aren't very many things niftier than a long cloak, the shorter length really is more practical! And just like the article says, you can swing the front edges back over your shoulders if you get too warm without being strangled. And avoiding strangulation is always nice! ;) 

Ever since I bought my cloak, I've been suffering from a severe case of cloak addiction. So much so, in fact, that I took out a UFO skirt I had in the drawer of shame and refashioned it into a cloak! I can't wait to share photos of that, but I'm determined to wait for a suitably snowy background to take pictures. And at 60-70 degrees, that's not likely to happen just yet. 

I hope you enjoyed this post! :) We're having a blast sewing these outfits. And we can't wait to get started on our jackets....whenever the pattern gets here!

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Monday, November 2, 2015

• 1950s Gumdrop Dress •

I'm so excited about today's post!! This is definitely one of my favorite dresses I've ever made. The print is SO fun and cheerful. I actually made this dress early on this year, but didn't finish it until just a couple of months ago.

When I saw this fabric at our local quilt shop, my heart absolutely skipped a beat. I LOVED it. And so did everyone else, apparently. It was one of those fabrics that comes in one week, and two weeks later the whole bolt is gone. Well, thankfully I was the one who got the last 5 yards! :) Boy am I glad!
For some reason, ever since I first laid eyes on this fabric, it just said "gumdrop" to me. So the Gumdrop Fabric it is! I already have a 1940s gumdrop dress, which you can see here. The prints are slightly different, but they both just look so....gum-droppy! :)

Since I had juuuuust barely 5 yards, it was a tight squeeze fitting all the pieces in for this dress! I used Butterick 5920, just making the sleeves and the skirt longer. Everything was going great until I figured out that the only way the skirt would fit in was if I put one of the back pieces going the opposite direction of all the other pieces. GRRR. It still bugs me. But it worked, and really isn't noticeable. The only difference between the two directions is the little flower stems that end up slightly different going one way versus the other.

The first time I ever tried matching a pattern was when I made this dress. It seemed to me, all I had to do was cut out the pieces that needed to match exactly the same, and then they would end up matching! Right? WRONG!!!
As you can imagine, my seams were quite interesting. Thankfully, the pattern was fairly close on the front skirt, so I could just sew the seam in a little bit and end up with it matching tolerably well.
Needless to say, I now know that that's not the way to match up a pattern. ;)

I had loads of trouble when I was working on the neckline. The pattern packet shows the neckline looking something like a Japanese throwing star (our affectionate name for it...very official, I know). However, when it came right down to it, it was nearly impossible to get a "V" in the middle at all. It took a lot of finagling and overlapping much less than I was supposed to to get the tiny "V" that I have.
My mom had the same problem when she made her version of this dress (to be blogged soon!), but I haven't seen anything about anybody else having trouble with it. In any case, the nasty neckline problems were the reason this dress sat around being a UFO for a month or two before I finally decided to tackle it! It was worth the effort though.

Although I always wanted gumdrop-looking buttons (yes, in different colors!), I never found any, so I had to settle for these lemony confections. Our Bakelite buckle seemed like the perfect accent for the belt.

These gloves are on the top 5 list of my most prized vintage possessions. They're SO gorgeous. I love them. So much!
They're in perfect condition, I got them for dirt cheap, and the style!!!! I love the button detailing, as well as the prick-stitched piping around the edges. And they happen to match this dress SO perfectly. Mmmm. I love them. ;)

About a month ago, I happened to glance at the Tatyana site, and saw that the Braid Purse was on sale! We of course bought it immediately. The $11 or so shipping makes the price a little less exciting, but it's still a good deal. I really like the purse; it's very roomy, and matches a surprising amount of outfits. It's quite sturdy as well, and I like the front clasp is evident in the next picture. ;)

We were having such fun taking these pictures! :) When I saw this one, I couldn't resist turning it into a little vintage purse ad.


Last, but not least, there's a sale going on in my Etsy shop! Use the coupon code AUTUMN15 to receive 15% off your purhcase!
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Friday, October 30, 2015

• The Latest Antique Haul •

I can't believe it's almost November!! Where has the year gone?! The time is passing awfully fast, but I'm actually really looking forward to winter. :)
In any case, here's our latest antique finds! We went antiquing last weekend, and boy did we have fun!! The first store we went to didn't have a whole lot of stuff we were interested in, but the next one was smashing! So smashing that we spent all our money. :) But that's why we went, right?!

It was a humongous antique store, and they had pretty much anything and everything you could possibly want. And it was all amazing! They had an 1830s couch (gorgeous, of course, and YES I wanted it), two different 1850s baby carriages, one of which was wooden, had "Baby" carved on the side, red velvet lining and a silk tasseled umbrella overhead. That's what I call riding in the lap of luxury. I wanted that too.
Another booth had 40-50 Sears, Montgomery Wards, etc catalogs from the 1940s-60s. It was just too amazing. I could go there and read clothing catalogs like it was a library. ;)
Then there was the especially sewing-oriented booth. Hehehe.

Zillions of buttons. Well, not zillions, but quite a few, and they're so neat! My particular favorite are the ones on the top right. They look just like marbles, but they are in fact buttons!! :) I already have a plan for them.

And....patterns!!!!! I'm pretty sure patterns are my favorite thing to shop for at antique stores. I just love them. We got a number of adorable kids' patterns, plus an apron and dress pattern that's our size.
Butterick 4420, McCall 5710 and Simplicity 1472 are all listed in the Etsy shop! The rest that aren't my size I'm just hoarding. Because vintage patterns are sometimes almost always too. amazing. to let go.

Ordinarily, we can't bear to buy an apron, however amazing it is. We just can't do it. The ever-prominent saying, "Oh, we could make one of those!" always prevails. Except this time.
This teapot/vase/sugarbowl/flower-laden beauty rendered itself irresistible. The fact that it is completely hand-sewn was a contributing factor! The print is seriously adorable, and it's just so pretty!! :)

So pretty!! :)

Here's where things get amazing. We bought 13 separate and distinct belt buckles!!!!! (!!)
All of them were either $1 or $2, which is a very decent price, if you ask me.
And would you just look at that red one?!! We have crowned it "The Most Amazing Buckle EVER." It really is. And it matches and fits so many of our dresses/belts we already have, it's just incredible. Eeek!!
And on a side note, the white buckle came with those four white buttons in the button photo. And....of course.....I already have a plan for them too. ;)

Since we didn't quite feel like dishing out $35 for a great big dress catalog, we bought this smaller "Midsummer Sale Book" for under $10. And it's surprisingly loaded with everything you can think of, up to and including typewriters, refrigerators, and dolls' bathtubs.

I was very excited to add this Deanna Durbin sheet music to my collection! Eventually I hope to collect all of them, but I've still got a long way to go.

Aaaannnd, a very large photo of a button hook! At least you can see it in detail! ;)
We only have a really small, short button hook, so it was great to find this nice, long, big one. I can't wait to try it out on my Renoirs!!

I couldn't help but throw in a couple pictures of our fabric haul as well! We stopped at Hancock Fabrics and found a couple of real treasures! First off is this wool-look fabric my mom got. It's the most gorgeous color of green! We are in desperate need of some wintry fabrics, so this was a good investment!!

And this is what I'm seriously excited about. Remember my green 1940s dress? This is the very same print, only in black. And I have wanted it for at least two years!!! When I bought the green, I had deliberated between it and this black, but went with the green because it was more practical. I saw it again on a later trip to Hancock, but once again passed it up. I just recently told my mom that if I ever saw the black fabric again, I was buying it for an 1800s dress of some sort! 
I searched all over the place at this Hancock store with no success, but then found it in the clearance section for $2.79 a yard. EEEK! Yes, I bought it all! Sadly there were only 6 3/4 yards, but I can still get a very decent dress out of that! It's the most wonderful fabric; it's very thick and stable, but at the same time it doesn't wrinkle one bit. AND, it's made in USA. So basically, it's a winner. ;)
It's destined to be an 1830s dress to wear to several mansions of that era when we go on vacation early next year. Speaking of which, we've got a whole week's worth of outfits to make! You just can't go on vacation in old clothes, you know! ;)

See you Monday!
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