Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Black and White World War II Era Hat

I have recently made, and worn, a WWII era hat to go with a dress I had recently sewn.  For ideas I looked at lots of WWII homefront images. I found lots of lovely hats in all types of styles.  Since I had sewn a white and black dress, I decided to go with the same color theme for a hat.  I looked everywhere I could think of for a black hat.  At a loss, I finally mentioned something on my Historical Sew Fortnightly group and Lauren from Wearing History gave me some wonderful ideas...including finding a hat for me on Etsy! Thank you!
When the hat arrived, I was quite surprised at how small it was. Here it is on top of the 1940's dress I had just finished sewing.

I was imagining a much larger hat, but Lauren had specifically mentioned smaller hats were also the style. I puzzled for quite sometime as to how to decorate the hat, since the possibilities are limitless. This hat has a brim on one side but not the other.  I even read through this 1944 booklet I found about how to make and decorate hats! Basically, anything goes! There was no one set style in the early 1940's, and that is certainly true of all the images I had found.  My favorite of all the smaller hats was one that I found on this blog.  Look at the sixth fashion plate down, the hat on the left: small black hat with red roses!  Fortunately the hat making booklet also said we can wear the hat any way we want, either on top of the head, on the back, or even jauntily to one side!  They encouraged that we play with the hat until we found something that suits us best, both in styling and in how we wear it!
I rummaged through my millinery baskets and found white paper roses and sheer black ribbon. 


Ta da!

Ta da!


Incidentally, the latest Historical Sew Fortnightly challenge is perfect for my hat, due by midnight tonight! This hat has been done since I wore it this past Sunday, but life has been busy! =) Now for the HSF details!


The Challenge: #7 Tops and Toes-"Create an accessory that goes on your head, or on your feet."
Fabric: None, but I used a hat blank from an Etsy shop.

Pattern: None, I used a fashion guide from the era, Neue Moden June 1942, for ideas.

Year: 1942

Notions: paper roses, sheer ribbon, thread, hat pins

How historically accurate is it? Apart from a few synthetics (possibly hat and ribbon in our modern world of shopping), I think it's rather accurate, considering the research and advice I got! Perhaps 80%? =)
Hours to complete: About one hour.

First worn: Sunday, April 13, for a history presentation.

Total cost: About $10 for the hat.  The ribbon and flowers came from the stash.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Blog List and an Award


Isabella from Isabella's Project Diary has awarded me the Liebster Award! Thank you so kindly!

I've won this a few times before, and it's especially fun when the rules change a bit. I like the "interview" process with this go-round.  Isabella has asked me/us to share about blogging.  Specifically she asked,
I won't bother everyone with 10 questions. :-) Instead, I'd like everyone to explain why they started blogging and what they have found useful about blogging. Also, any downsides they've found to blogging, any funny stories regarding their blog, and what they might do differently if they were starting a blog now.-Isabella

Hmm, I've been pondering this for a few days because I actually have another blog, Teacups in the Garden, which is my first blog and is more about my various loves of teaching, traveling, gardening, reading, costuming, etc, etc, etc.  I really found my niche for it on day one and it's been a labor of love ever since, though it is sadly a wee bit neglected these days since I've been overcome with homeschooling my son through his senior year which is full of collegiate deadlines. I've had many blog readers over there, who come to visit for various reasons. One large group that grew over the years were the ones specifically interested in my sewing of historical clothing.  Or perhaps I should say, my learning how to sew historical clothing.  It was difficult for them to find my historical clothing posts under one little category tag out of a mass of others.  As a result I decided to start a new blog simply focusing on the historical clothing that I sew....and while I'm at it, anything I sew. Therefore I'd say I started this blog to be a diary of my historical clothing and other misc sewing projects. However mostly it's about my historical sewing projects. I hope that interested readers have an easier time finding specific projects here, where I can categorize in far more detail than I did at my other blog.

The biggest downside I have found to blogging is that it has made me, surprisingly, a bit of a public figure in that I am recognized in various places when I go out and about. That in itself is quite fine, until certain individuals want to cause trouble, which sadly a few have tried to do.  Therefore I try to be smart about not giving too many specific details about my private life on the blog.  Beyond that any specific negative incidences I have had have all been dealt with, especially due to the help of wonderful friends.  =)

However on the oppposite side, my blogs have also brought out the most wonderful people I could ever hope to meet who have been quite encouraging to me and my family, and fun to be with. Specifically this has been so at Colonial Williamsburg, where many employees and guests have befriended us and utterly stolen our hearts. =) As for a funny story, and this applies mostly to my other blog but my two blogs are so much woven together, it's amazing how many people have walked up to me in public and asked, "Aren't you Teacups in the Garden?" =)

Funny stories all revolve around Colonial Williamsburg. I'll share the guest stories but there are a few great ones with the employees too but I don't know that they'd want me to share! ;) One year at Under the Redcoat we were attending a talk on historical clothing put on by the Costume Design Center. Afterwards we got to touch and handle the costumes. Meanwhile a gal walked up and said, "I see you finished your daughter's gown." Flabbergasted I looked at her oddly and she grinned and said, "My sister and I read your blog." That's how I met Rebecca and Ashley from A Fashionable Frolick!  

 The next year there were two incidences back to back. Friday night my children and I were eating on the patio at the Cheese Shop in Merchants Square. Later that evening I got an e-mail from a blog reader, whom I had never heard from before, saying she had seen me and my children eating at the Cheeseshop but she didn't want to bother us.  =)  Then the next night we were at the Palace waiting to enter an evening program of dancing. We were attending with Rebecca and Ashley. While Rebecca and I were chatting a young girl in front asked me if I was Teacups in the Garden, then my daughter, who was behind me, grabbed my arm and said, "Mom, Mom! The people back there are talking about your blog!" That evening I danced with a group of blog readers!  =)

Finally, what would I do differently?  Hmmmm, I'm still pondering that one.  I've never been fully comfortable here. I don't feel as though I have found my niche.  I've had an idea in the back of my mind for a few years that I might turn this into more of a historical diary, which includes sewing of course. I'm not sure.  Since I do so many eras, that will be a stretch. However now that my youngest is graduating from high school, I'll probably focus more on late 18th century and early 19th century, since those are my loves.  However I can't help but dabble in a few other eras now and then, since I am currently having a blast sewing 1940's dresses, and am looking forward to the 1950's. Edwardian was fun too...and the Civil War gown needs a few more historic support pieces. Ah, what to do?

Currently, in my brief free time, I started reorganizing the categories. I got a wee bit stuck on the bottom bits. I need to find time to find specific years for those projects because I like having them in sequential order. I'm thinking that might help others find posts of interest?

Anyway, thank you again Isabella. I apologizing for letting my other blog sneak in but I have found my niche there and I feel a bit lost here. This blog exists only because of that blog.
Now for my blog nominees!  I'm trying to pick some that  haven't been picked before, and I like so many, so this is hard. These are the newest ones (to me) that I have found!

Sewing Empire-So much detail into process and technique!

The Story of a Seamstress-Reenacting, sewing, homesteading, and a new baby. Awww...

A Specialist Embroiderer-Embroidery, even metal embroidery!

The Wartime Woman-Lots of period images and how-to's from WWII. Great for achieving just the right WWII on the Homefront look.

The Merry Dressmaker-Lots of great detail of extant clothing and works in progress!

So the official rules are:
1. Thank the blogger who nominated you.
2. Nominate 10 other bloggers and notify them of their award.
3. Come up with 10 questions you want your nominee to answer.  Hmmm, how about a couple? What is your favorite project? What inspires you? How did this become a hobby for you?
4. Answer the questions you received from the one who nominated you.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

The Embroidered Jacket for the Reenactment of the Wedding of Pocahontas

Today I got to attend the wedding ceremony of Pocahontas and John Smith at Historic Jamestowne. Information on the hand stitching of  her wedding jacket, black silk thread on white linen, is here:
Here is a podcast from Colonial Williamsburg on the design of the jacket.
Here are close-ups on the work-in-progress of the embroidery done by volunteers from the Historic Jamestowne fb page.
Here are more photos from the Burnley and Trowbridge fb page.

Due to prodigious crowds, I did not get to see the beautifully impeccable hand stitching up close. However I was able to note her beautiful shawl that she wore draped across the jacket, which I assume is a sign of being a Native American princess.


I found this set of photos from Colonial Williamsburg's fb page which show her jacket in it's entirety!


Friday, April 4, 2014

Circle Skirt Sneak Peak and Remnant

For my newest contemporary dress, I cut out a circle skirt from this fabric.  I had quite a bit of fabric left over, so I think I can sew a new blouse for my daughter.  I had to stretch out the entire fabric in the basement, just to be able to make sense of it and fold it up neatly until then. It's a lucious 100% cotton with lovely drape. The bodice of the dress though, is different from the skirt fabric. ;)  My dress is nearly done. All I have left is to handsew the zipper and tack down the bodice lining, perhaps 30 minutes of work, if that much. I'll probably do that during a WWII movie tomorrow night...inspiring me for my partially finished WWII dresses and hat in progress. ;) Meanwhile I plan to wear my new dress to a very special place next Friday. Hopefully we can take a few shots to put on the blog. 


Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Tropical Print at the National Harbor

Recently my husband and I went to the National Harbor, near Washington DC, for our wedding anniversary.  In the middle of a snowy winter, we happened to go on an unusually warm sunny day, so I wore a dress I had sewn several years ago. 

My hair was a bit wild that day so I grabbed some pins and put it up in the car. The back zips up and then ties with a knot. 


This was one of my easiest outfits to sew, ever. I didn't even make a toile, because I had no idea what that even was back then.  I just cut out and fabric and sewed it up. Done. 

Now I'm trying to work up energy to finish sewing my aforementioned dress...  

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

My Eras of Sewing and Stitching

When I was very little, I played with beautiful scraps of satin and silk fabric that my great grandmother gave to me, imagining that I could actually sew them into clothing for my dolls.  Somehow I think I did get some doll patterns and I did dabble a bit with that.

By the time that I was 5, my grandmother taught me a little bit of embroidery so that I could decorate pillow cases! Then she taught me just enough crochet so I could make blankets and doilies, out of either thread or yarn, though I never finished any of those projects. 

By the time I was a Girl Scout, my mom taught me how to sew my own skirts, shorts and pants to earn a badge over the summer. I sewed some of my summer wardrobe many summers, I tried an autumn blouse, then I designed and sewed my own summer blouses without a pattern.  Then  I took a dreaded required homemaking course in high school that was not fun.  I abandoned all sewing after that!

 Each year for Christmas the relatives gave me various craft kits, allowing me to dabble in needlepoint, crochet, stamped cross stitch, etc, etc, etc. By junior high a vacation to my mom's hometown brought coziness, a slower lifestyle, walks out and about in the little town, and a shopping trip to a Five and Dime where I decided to stock up on a few embroidery and crewel projects. I embroidered an apron, then I embroidered an Irish blessing where I learned the satin stitch and split stitch. Finally I completed a large crewel wallhanging with country charm for the kitchen. In fact, I made two of those, one for me and one for my mom! I worked on the kitchen wall hangings throughout high school and college.

In my early years of high school, my mom signed me up for summer phase homemaking (with a different teacher), where I got to learn hand quilting, crochet and needlepoint..for credit!  Of all my college prep classes that I had to take, this class was pure fun! Nevertheless it was still quite a bit of work.  I didn't just hand quilt, I cut out patchwork pieces, to piece and quilt 100% by hand, to transform into a pillow.  Then we learned applique to make a bread rising cover, using a cute strawberry pattern to applique, french knot and handquilt and bind.  No machine allowed!  Then we made about 10 items in crochet, progressing in difficuly, from hair "ribbons" to bowls with knobby lids. Finally we learned various patterns of needlepoint, creating coasters for each one. 

In my senior year, my Sunday School teacher taught all of us girls how to do counted cross stitch.  I finally picked that up as a hobby after college, to create various wall art to decorate our bare white walls after I got married.

It was in college that I truly started sewing.  One of my friends sewed gorgeous dresses that won grand prize champion at her local county fair. Although my mom taught me to sew, sewing isn't fun to her, but dutiful, even though her mother and aunts sewed quite a bit. I think my aunts in New York City even did a bit of corture sewing for themselves, but my mom always kept things easy and basic. That is best when first learning, but I liked all the pleats and tucks my friend was doing with the silks and plaids and wools....that I wanted to try!  I started sewing all of my own clothes that I wore every single day around the apartment or to work: dresses, blouses, skirts, and shorts. I only bought one pair of dress pants and 2 pairs of blue jeans. Everything else was sewn. Even after I married my husband, I counted pennies and used coupons to whip out outfits. Then I had children. lol

When the babies started coming, I got little sleep. I didn't sew as much. I mostly cross stitched, since we were living in plain old 1950's base housing. The walls needed help! I cross stitched a beautiful blanket with lambs jumping over a fence, I cross stitched a Precious Moments Growth Chart, then I cross stitched a huge Precious Moments Noah's Ark to hang in the baby room, then I started sewing quilts for my kids' first twin beds! I cross stitched the huge piano piece that I blogged about earlier.  I cross stitched lots of cute lambs and teddy bears for the baby room and lots of seashells and poetry for the bathroom. 

Then I started homeschooling.  My sewing time became scarce as I taught them their ABC's and 123's. Eventually I dabbled in sewing a few garments here and there, cross stitching an advent calendar for Christmas, and lots of sea shell pictures for the bathrooms.  Cross stitch was my main form of "fiber therapy" in these years, including the piano cross stitch that I shared here. 

Eventually I started sewing costumes when my kids were in children's choir. Then I started sewing history costumes for us to wear.  In time, we moved from Texas to Virginia, started visiting Colonial Williamsburg monthly, and the kids wanted me to upgrade their costume-y colonial costumes into reproductions from the colonial era. 

One of these days I will find time to scan photographs of past projects to blog about.  Meanwhile, I have a new sewing venture to start blogging about.  I haven't shared much about my sewing of clothing to wear day by day apart from my daughter's floral graduation dress and lavender graduation dress. 

Recently I received an e-mail from a blog reader, kindly complimenting on my historical sewing and asked me to enter her sewing contest. I was asked to submit a photograph of my best work so they could choose the top 4 to enter the contest.  I posted several photos to my facebook and asked for the opinion of my friends, who voted that I enter my lace Edwardian gown.  I entered the gown but did not make the top 4. That was okay with me, since I was on the fence. However I thought it was funny that I was asked to participate...then didn't qualify! lol I was runner-up though and I was asked to enter the weekly themes anyway,.which is open to anyone.  Here are the four qualifiers for the competition. 

I've been focusing so much on my historical sewing and a few quilts, that I'm in need of some new contemporary clothes.  I liked the themes and had ideas for each one, so I thought that by entering the contest, I'd push myself to sew a few clothes that I need. 

My first entry was machine sewn Sunday night. All that's left is a bit of handwork, then a photo shoot. The deadline is Friday!  I'm still on the fence about actually submitting it, since I'm so busy with other projects around here like homeschooling!

So even after the contest, I will be doing more contemporary sewing, because I need quite a few new clothes.  I will continue my historical sewing however, and I have two new World War II era dresses, and a hat for one of them, in process right now!  Plus I have a few 18th century outfits in the works.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Late 1930's White Blouse and Creamy Yellow Jumper for Mary Churchill or...Mary Poppins?

My latest historical persona was to be a lady from the late 1930's, so I decided to use Wearing History's late 1930's jumper and blouse pattern! In a most frugal fashion, reflecting the  Great Depression, I used white fabric found in my fabric stash leftover from a previous project (specifically my 1860's sheer white gown).  Even more frugal was my choice of jumper fabric.  I cut out the required pieces from my yellow Edwardian skirt, which was too short for me.

I loved the sheerness and pattern of the white fabric.

For the jumper I made my first ever bound buttonholes.  For guidance I used Wearing Histoy's own tutorial! Lauren makes gorgeous bound buttonholes.    

I worked oh so hard to be utterly precise...


However the final product wasn't anything to brag about.  Perhaps I'll do a better job next time?

In fact, I fiddled and puzzled quite a bit over the jumper, primarily because the fabric is a synthetic. My comfort zone is natural fiber...therefore the white blouse came out exactly as I had envisioned it! It was a dream to sew! Being cotton it was difficult to turn the tube for the ties, and I flipped them backwards or something. So I undid the machine stitching and whip stitched them by hand.  I tend to do better with hand sewing than machine sewing. Nevertheless, most of the blouse and jumper are machine sewn.


For our 1930's history presentation I portrayed Winston Churchill's daughter, which was a lot of fun! I enjoyed using one of Churchill's books as a prop while posing for these photos!










The latest Historical Sew Fortnightly Challenge is Fairytale. Since I was currently sewing a 1930's outfit, and the latest rage in the movie theaters is "Saving Mr. Banks," I realized Mary Poppins could be my fairytale entry! Written in the 1930's, the book became a movie in the 1960's after years of effort from Walt Disney to secure the movie rights. But.what if Disney had gotten immediate film rights in the 1930's and staged the park scene with Mary Poppins dancing with Burt, while she wore this same white blouse with creamy yellow jumper? What a "Jolly Holiday" that would have been!

Now for the HSF details!

The Challenge: #6 Fairytale- imagine your favourite fairytale set in a specific timeperiod, and make a historical garment inspired by the fairytale.
Fabric: 100% cotton for the blouse, synthetic for the jumper
Pattern: Wearing History
Year: late 1930's
Notions: thread, buttons
How historically accurate is it? Apart from having used some synthetic fabric, it is quite historically accurate.
Hours to complete: Lost count.
First worn: A couple of weeks ago
Total cost: Free, stash  and recycle project