Saturday, July 12, 2014

Decision to "Move my Blog"

In recent sewing news, I am working on many  projects simultaneously! Don't we all? ;) I have recently completed a cute red and chocolate apron for a bridal shower with photos forthcoming! I have also completed a peach 1950's silk tafetta dress that my facebook friends are loving! A young college student told me to definitely wear that on the town now! Post with photos forthcoming! Currently I'm sewing a different style 1950's pink and white silk gingham dress, which will require a new 1950's petticoat. Also I have a pair of cute modern shorts all cut out from the rest of the solid lusciously soft black fabric I used for the bow in my 1940's dress. Last night I started handsewing an 18th century cap. 
Also I'm joining a quilt guild! Two quilts are waiting to be sewn, One for my son to take to college and another for my niece, who's been waiting for her own Aunt Laurie quilt while I've been busy homeschooling.
Homeschooling has kept me enormously busy and currently college details and paperwork are snatching spare moments of my time. I have graduated my youngest a few weeks ago.
However I plan to keep sewing historical clothing, as well as more contemporary styles for daily fashionable wear with a special touch. I'm not too keen on what I find in the stores so I'm designing my own look that my daughter and I love, which basically translates into soft colors, floral, tucks, and flounces.
So where does that leave this blog?  I am mentally stretched to try to maintain two blogs.  I haven't quite found a blogging voice here, yet I definitely have one at my original blog, Teacups in the Garden. Furthermore, everything I post here is also posted at Teacups in the Garden.  My original Teacups in the Garden blog was at another platform where I researched html code and created quite a fun looking space.  Then my platform moved it...then they deleted it! Can you imagine? Thankfully they gave me a heads up so in a week I managed to move it to blogger, however all the old links are dead.  This summer I started at the very first blog post and have been refreshing links.  It's a slow process and I am nearly done with 2009 and everything previous to that.  =)
I've decided to quit blogging here and to eventually delete this blog.  Not to fear though, for everything I have here is already posted at Teacups in the Garden.  It's all been cross posted and so it's quite redundant.  However I won't delete this one until I finish updating Teacups in the Garden with refreshed links. Also I am going to create tabs at the top for my costuming and quilting. Since I am joining the quilt guild, I am making an entire new set of friends. Instead of creating yet another blog quilting will have it's tab and so will my historical sewing. 
Also as a further tease, it is at my Teacups in the Garden blog that I have all my millinerary pictures from Colonial Williamsburg, as well as visits and excitements about my sewing classes at the CW Costume Design Center. 
Meanwhile I will bump this message to the top each month, depending on how long it takes me to snaz things up at Teacups in the Garden, and I will post my sewing related links here. In fact I'll be sharing about my 18th century cap by Tuesday, because that is for the latest Historical Sew Fortnightly Challenge. Stay tuned!
I'm also thinking about starting a new weekly series where I feature a  favorite blog. There are so many that I love that my wheels are turning.  See, my wheels turn at Teacups in the Garden, but I feel that the wheels are a bit rusty here! lol
I thought I'd make the announcement now, so that my followers can have time to discover my news and make a decision on how to follow me.  I have to say that another push for me to do this is one of my very best historical clothing sewing friends whom we all know and love no longer follows me here. Instead she follows me at Teacups in the Garden. In fact A Fashionable Frolick (my very best historical clothing friends) kindly awarded me a blog award a year ago, not for this blog but for Teacups in the Garden.  Thank you so much! ;)

Thursday, July 10, 2014

1950's Bombshell Bathing Suit

My daughter needed a new bathing suit. We went shopping. She tried a few on. As usual we couldn't find anything we liked or any that fit. We've had this trouble ever since she grew out of little girl sizes.  What to do? Then I remembered that Butterick had recently released a brand new 1950's Bombshell Bathing Suit pattern designed by Gertie, Butterick 6067! So we bought the pattern and some adorable swimsuit fabric that my daughter fell in love with from Fabric Fairy.
After reading through the instructions I started fearing the possibility of succeeding at this project. I have never sewn a swimsuit before! However I've read so many blogs where others have with great success, I assumed that I could to.
I found some cotton fabric from the stash that was left over from a quilt project to figure out the steps. I'm so glad I did this because I was quite confused and had nowhere to go for help, as much as I googled and sought advice.  I realize the pattern designers are busy. I totally get that. =) However I was quite at a loss, so I looked at the Sewaholic's gorgeous Bombshell Swimsuit, which originally inspired me last summer and kept teasing me in the back of my mind! ;) She used the pattern and corresponding sew a-long from Closet Case Files. In my despair I was wishing I had bought this pattern because it had hand holding support with a super highly informative sew along.  I read and reread this for the basic idea of sewing a swim suit and working with spandex. (Sew a-long is linked above.)   And please don't get me wrong. I love Gertie's pattern.  It's just that I'm not experienced enough in the 1950's or in the sewing of swimsuits to dive in and go for it! However I'm quite sure that many others could! =)
One thing that threw me was that the illustrations don't fully explain what is happening. Instead of showing the odd layers of fabric pieces going together, they only illustrated the final result.  I had to do a lot of fiddling. I was stuck at step 3 for weeks, but I finally figured it out!
I think what threw me specifically was the use of the term "stay" in the beginning steps. Nowhere that I could find was "stay" defined. To me stays are 18th century underpinnings.  I think from there the word has evolved to indicate a bit of structure for the bodice, as in adding a bit of boning which this pattern indeed calls for. However the "stay" was completely separate from the boning so I still don't understand. I'm guessing background knowledge of 1950's couture techniques would have helped. I have sewn historical clothing for almost every era and I'm currently sewing for the 1950's, two different dresses and this swimsuit.  This is the first I've seen "stay" in this context. This could be just me. I'm sure others are much more knowledgeable as to its meaning.  When I started ignoring that, and fiddled, things started to fall into place structurally. 
The ties are much skinnier than the actual pattern because I didn't have enough fabric to cut two, so I cut the one in half, since this was merely a practice mock-up. I was quite pleased with the result! Isn't it darling?     

Last night I completed the rest of the swimsuit! Here is the front...
And here is the back.  Of course it's not stretchy so my daughter can't try it on but it seems as though it could fit her.

My next step is to cut out only the lining in some stretchy stash fabric I have so she can try it on.  Then I'll dare to cut out the cute lavender and white polka dot with white ruching trim! My daughter is so excited. However this will take a while.  I took a tiny tumble down a mountain on a hike the other day and lightly sprained my ankle. I don't have any pain but it swells if I stand on my feet a lot so I've been resting on the couch. 
Meanwhile I've been reading lots of blogs and sewing websites about the ins and outs of sewing with spandex, required for bathing suits.  I don't feel like I have enough tips in the directions. The pattern says it's for the average seamstress and I think I definitely am an average seamstress. However with the directions given, I think this should be labeled for an advanced seamstress.  If there were a bit more hand-holding, more directions, a sew a-long and a you tube of the various ways to sew on stretch fabric with straight stitch machines v interlock machines, then it could be an average pattern.  At least that is how I'm feeling because I'm scared to make the commitment and dive into this project. My daughter has a great deal of confidence in me though! I hope it works!

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Underpinnings for an 18th Century Gown

Over the last couple of years I have researched and fussed and fiddled with various underpinnings, trying to properly fluff out my 18th century skirts. Nothing seemed quite right, so I kept setting the project aside.
The current challenge in the Historical Sew Fortnightly is "Shape and Support." Since I recently completed my silk Englishback gown, and because all of you have given me great words of advice about underpinnings, I tried once again to properly fluff out the skirts for this challenge!
Even though I'd love to look like the milliners of Colonial Williamsburg when they are dressed up, I'm not quite sure how they fluff out their skirts. (I can't find the particular picture I'm thinking of.) I am guessing it is with a type of pocket hoops (not panniers) but I have no idea how to make one. The main shaping seems to be a bit dropped below the waist.
Another of my favorite looks and one that would be quite practical if I'm driving from the hotel to Colonial Williamsburg to romp about town for the day with my children, is a rump pad. I had seen one for a 1774 Lady Dunmore at the Colonial Williamsburg Costume Design Center.  I also liked the effect created by the Aristocat when she made her cork rumps, but I have no idea how to do cork. Nevertheless I decided to try to achieve the look with fabric and wool, courtesy of the Colonial Williamsburg sheep! This is a temporary rump pad...pending everyones' responses on how I should alter it if need be.


Over that I wore an underpetticoat...

Then the outer petticoat...

Then my gown...

Okay, well, that's my dressform wearing them. Here are the photos of me wearing them!







What do you think? Did I do it? Am I close? Am I way off base? Inquiring minds want to know!

Now for the HSF details!


The Challenge: Make a garment that changes the silhouette of the human form through shaping and support.

Fabric: 100% cotton and wool from the Colonial Williamsburg sheep (obtained at the Prentis Store). I read that most of these rump pads, bum rolls, etc, were made from fabric scraps. However I did find that for the upper class fine silk ones might be made for ball gowns.

Pattern: self-drafted

Year: 1770's

Notions: grosgrain ribbon

How historically accurate is it? I think it's quite accurate because it's quite similar to the one I saw at the Colonial Williamsburg Costume Design Center. If anything, mine might not be stuffed enough or round enough, etc.

Hours to complete: A couple of hours.

First worn: Not yet, only worn for photo shoot.

Total cost: Free, made from remnants of old projects.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Purple Empire Bonapartist Gown and the Politics of Fashion-Historical Sew Fortnightly #11

The latest Historical Sew Fortnightly Challenge is the Politics of Fashion. I had one unfinished garment in the closet that would lend itself to this challenge, my purple empire gown.  Although I've worn it before, I've had to have someone pin the back edges together. I decided this was the occasion to finish my gown.  For months I've been pondering/debating which type of enclosure to use on my gown. My pattern from Period Impressions called for buttons and buttonholes, which I was leaning towards because I thought it would be the the most reliable enclosure. However I decided to do some research to show proof.  In the process I found the following interesting back closures for Empire gowns:
From the MET I found this 1818 gown with buttons and buttonholes.
From an auction site I found this gown dated to 1805 that closes in back with buttons that are secured by silk corded loops that zig zag up the back.
This gown dated to 1815 from the McCord Museum has spiral lacing!
Someone whom I lost the link to had buttons with individual loops. If I find it I'll add it here.
All the other gowns had drawstrings at the neckline and  underbodice.

After much debate I finally deciding to do the drawstrings. Saturday I finished my gown!  For now I'm using grosgrain ribbon but I hope to replace it with better lacing once I find it.
If I find them I'll upload them. I used leftover cotton to create a sleeve for the drawstring under the bust.
Because of the trim sewn to the neckline, stitches already formed a casing, so I merely snipped openings in the fabric to thread the ribbon through for closure.


Here are some photos taken a couple of months ago while debuting my opera gloves.  Want to see my pinned back closure?



Are you able to tell I have straight pins securing the back?  I used pins with purple pearl heads to blend in.  I haven't had a chance to wear my gown newly fixed with drawstrings, because no one was available to help me tie them or to take pictures of me wearing it.


Now for the key question. What does this purple gown have to do with the "Politics of Fashion?" It's all about Napoleon and the color purple! When I was reading Napoleon Bonaparte: An Intimate Biography based on primary sources by Vincent Cronin, I read about the color purple being the color of support for Napoleon. Page 385 describes how Bonapartists', after Napoleon's first exile, took the color violet as their secret homage to the Emporer. "Ladies wore violet-coloured dresses, men carried watch chains of that colour. 'Aimez-vous la violette?' was a frequent question, to which one answered, 'Il reviendraau printemps.'" (If my attempts at translating French are correct, this means: "'Do you love violet?' was a frequent question, to which one answered, 'He will return in spring.'" Napoleon returned from exile and began his Hundred Days on March 20, 1815.

And now for the Historical Sew Fortnightly:
The Challenge: #11 The Politics of Fashion "World affairs have both affected, and been affected by, fashions.  Craft something that demonstrates the interactions between dress and political history." -The Dreamstress

Fabric: 100% cotton sheer striped voile

Pattern:  Period Impression

Year: 1815

Notions: thread, satin ribbon, pearl trim, gros grain ribbon

How historically accurate is it? Pretty much. I based this gown on one in the book, Napoleon and the Empire of Fashion. I used all natural fiber and it is all handsewn. However this is modeled after a ball gown. I know that during the time that Napoleon ruled France, he wanted the people to support the silk industry so he only allowed silk gowns in court.  I assume a French ball gown would hold to the same standard.

Hours to complete: Too many to count for the overall project. However to create the drawstring closure took me one afternoon.

First worn: A year ago, while using straight pins to secure the back.

Total cost: About $50, although this project to sew the drawstrings used materials from the stash.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Help! How Do I upload a photo to Google Friend Connect?

I want to join blogs that I read with Google Friend Connect, however whenever I try to upload it, it fails. I'm left with only a grey head photo if I go ahead and join a blog.  I have tried different browsers and using smaller images, changing them from 10kb to 1KB. Any ideas? Thanks!KB

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Silk Englishback Gown from Burnley and Trowbridge Workshop

About a year ago I took a sewing class with Burnley and Trowbridge.  My beautiful silk even came from Burnley and Trowbridge. My post about the class is here. The Colonial Williamsburg mantua maker led the class with her great expertise. Alas, I've struggled greatly not only with this gown but also with the stays from that Burnley and Trowbridge workshop. The classes are wonderful and I highly recommend them.
The Historical Sew Fortnightly's latest sewing challenge, due today, is Art.  What piece of art has inspired us? Actually, in the beginning, this painting at the MET, Self-Portrait with a Harp, inspired me before I knew how to sew anything 18th century. Overtime everything fell into place. Well, almost everything.  I found a bluish-grey with cream pinstripe fabric at Burnley and Trowbridge. I had no idea how to make the specific gown in the painting, but an Englishback Gown workshop was available at B&T. To date, that is the only style I know how to make. I debated, for only a short time, whether to have a petticoat of the same fabric, or a cream petticoat.  The painting helped me decide to definitely go with a cream petticoat. I like how it brightens up the gown. I have no harp. The similarities are few, but I was inspired!

Alas I struggled enormously with the gown because my skills are quite weak.  My stitches were not strong so my draped sections kept popping, needing to be redone.  I have an awful time trying to pin the bodice tightly. It's not comfortable. I concede I forget details easily. I think I'm going to need to rip out and redo some sections. I have this struggle that in my mind I seem to know what I need to do, then when I start to work on it (and my stays) I feel rather lost. Pins were popping out everywhere.  I even played with my hairstyle and it fell apart during the photoshoot, however that was the first time I have ever tried to play with an 18th century hairstyle and the kids liked it.
However it is complete enough to share for the art challenge.  I thought the process might help me analyze possible cures to my sewing woes!

I blogged about my hat here.

I've even played with different types of bum rolls and pads and such but nothing looks quite right and my son keeps giving me a thumbs down. lol Oh well. I am so hopeless! I'm learning to laugh about it!

Because the opportunity presented itself, I did cut the back of the gown to have a train.  I do want to be able to tie them up into a polonaise so that is another addition to make. I tentatively started ironing all the silk but struggled with that actually working. I feared getting too aggressive since I didn't want to burn the fabric.

Also this cream petticoat was actually purchased for a future quilted petticoat. It's also from B&T but is quite thick. Because of the thickness I don't think it hangs with the gown well but I think it will do nicely for the quilted petticoat. Therefore I'm looking for a lighter weight cream silk to match the gown. I've also done a great deal of research of extant gowns, considering adding pearls. However yesterday I think I decided not to add pearls. 


Now for the HSF details:
The Challenge: #10 Art: "Make your own masterpiece based on a work of art." -the Dreamstress
Fabric: 100% silk
Pattern:  Draped at Burnley and Trowbridge workshop
Year: 1770's
Notions: thread
How historically accurate is it? As accurate as it could be. It is 100% hand sewn and draped with the Colonial Williamsburg mantua maker.
Hours to complete: Too many to count
First worn: Not yet, still fiddling with it
Total cost: For fabric, class, lodging, food, travel-probably $500

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Sew for Victory Slide Show Set to Music-Thanks Lucky Lucille!

While I was sewing my WWII dress in April, I stumbled upon the Sew for Victory, which was a worldwide sewing project in April hosted by Lucky Lucille. She challenged sewing bloggers to sew 1940's dresses in the month of April, then to share pictures modeling their creation on her Flickr group.  I decided to join in the fun!  Here is a link to her blog of a 9 minute slide show set to 1940's music courtesy of the Andrews Sisters (which my daughter recognized since she portrayed one of them in our WWII history presentation).
I might not get to historically interpret at a nearby historical home like I've always dreamed of, but being part of this slide show set to period music was certainly fun!