Monday, August 21, 2017

CoBloWriMo Day 21: UFOs

Ah yes, the skeletons in every seamstress' closet...UFOs.  No, not the X-Files kind, the dreaded UnFinished Object.  You know, that project that gave you so much trouble it ended up in the naughty corner, or maybe something you started for an event but didn't end up going.  Or maybe it's just a piece that failed to hold your interest or spark any enthusiasm.  All of these things can lead to a UFO, and that's totally fine!  But sometimes, it can also be really satisfying to cross some long-term projects off your list.

Winter gear isn't something I have occasion to tackle very often, since a lot of events I've gone to in the past have been at the height of summer.  When you need it, though, you really need it!

Wool flannel with tucks--toasty!

I had actually forgotten about this in-progress petticoat for a while, but I unearthed it while moving my fabric from my sewing room closet to the guest room for storage.  The wool flannel fabric is very similar in weave and texture to an original that I have owned in the past, though somewhat thicker.

Pimatex yoke with flat felled seams

Since I don't know what the weather in Gettysburg will be like in November, I'm planning for chilly temps.  It's better to have more and not need it, than to freeze your tail off and be miserable all day!  Anyway, this flannel petticoat will keep my legs nice and toasty under my hoop if it's cold out.

Attaching yoke to flannel

So, while it's not actually finished yet, I am well on my way to finishing it for November.  And once you start working on it again, it's "in progress" rather than "unfinished."  Right?

Sunday, August 20, 2017

CoBloWriMo Day 20: Not in a Million Years

Okay, if there's one thing I've learned about myself over the years, it's that "never say never" is pretty accurate.  It's like the minute I say I'm not going to do something, the universe is like, "hahaha, that's what you think!"

"I'm never gonna get married!"

"We're not getting a dog."

"...okay well we're definitely not getting another dog."
Well, for a lot of years I always said "I'll never go to CoCo."  Or, "I'll never go to CoCo unless I'm teaching."  Now I'm all on fire to go lounge about with a cocktail in hand and just chat with people!  The list goes on and on.  More recently, I've started to suspect that my prior statements in the vein of "I'll never do 1920s" are going to come back to bite me, too.

By Lanvin, From the V&A
Aw man...but it's so pretty!

Saturday, August 19, 2017

CoBloWriMo Day 19: Ornament

This prompt, "ornament," stumped me for several days!  The verb "to ornament" something is "make (something) look more attractive by adding decorative items," while the noun refers to the thing you add to the other thing to make it more attractive.  All my brain was coming up with was this:

Christmas Ornament Png File PNG Image
http://www.freepngimg.com


Not helpful, brain.  But then it struck me.  I have this sweet little antique piece I bought on eBay last winter, photographed casually in my bathroom mirror when it arrived, and then never mentioned, posted about, or thought about it again until just now!


This lovely little fichu was probably meant for someone with much narrower shoulders and much...less huge tracts of land than you see here, but the fact that it's a little dwarfed by my she-hulk-ness, it's no less cute or charming!


I also feel like this definitely conforms to the prompt in that, well, it doesn't really fully conceal anything, and it also is a little airy to add any kind of warmth.  No, its purpose is just to exist and be beautiful, and to enhance the outfit with which it may be paired.  It seems to be purely decorative, and it does that job for sure!

By no means am I certain about the actual date of the piece I own, but in my opinion it looks very similar to some of the 1860s examples below.




Someday I hope to take a pattern from it and make one to fit my figure, but until then I'm glad to have finally shared my not-so-recent acquisition!

Friday, August 18, 2017

CoBloWriMo Day 18: Favorite Tool

There are all sorts of wonderful sewing gadgets out there, but the one I rely on for all my projects at some point or another is my trusty seam gauge.


My favorite type is a little multi-sided gizmo that gives a variety of measurements on both sides.


I got mine at a local fabric shop, but it can be got on Amazon here for a good price.  In fact, get the two pack.  I have at least two and they tend to escape right when I need them, so having a spare can't be a bad thing!

Thursday, August 17, 2017

CoBloWriMo Day17: Written Source

Today's prompt, "Written Source," was tricky for me until I remembered my favorite trio of indispensable little books:



These handy little manuals have all manner of techniques and tutorials, and with a period binding you can take them anywhere with you.  I don't pull them out for every project, but when I need them I just can't do without!  You can get them directly from the authors at Kanniks Korner, from Burnley & Trowbridge, Wm. Booth Draper, and even Amazon.  They're also ebooks, although obviously those aren't historically accurate!

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

A Pink Coral Demi-Parure for Julie

This post also serves as  CoBloWriMo Day 16: Small Project.



Jewelry-making is not my forte, but it was fun to do something so different from sewing for a little while.

Pretty box clasps on matching bracelets.  The set also contains a necklace and matching earrings.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

CoBloWriMo Day 15: Workspace

I've been procrastinating SO hard over this prompt.  I've had posts scheduled out 5+ days almost since the beginning, but this is one I've been putting off hardcore.  So here I am at 11 p.m. the night before this is "due," typing in bed because ugh.

I'm a messy person.  My coworker buddy tells me I have a "pilot license," or rather, a "pile-it" license.  My supplies are all in stacks--I pile it here, I pile it there...you get the idea.  But the fact is that it's not terribly photogenic.  Which is why I've been procrastinating.  Also, pretty sure 'procrastination' is an endorsement on my pile-it license.

I have an advanced degree in stacking, too.


Also I'm terrible at interior decorating.

Bare walls, you haunt me

But, I am not gonna let my unorthodox organization methods trip me up when I'm halfway through a month of daily posts, so here it is!

Brought to you by Ikea, Target, and Wal-Mart

I even vacuumed, guys!  This carpet is the worst for collecting little cat hair floofs and threads; someday I hope to have laminate but until then at least this is nice underfoot.  I'm sure there will be dozens of pins buried in it by the time it's replaced, though!

Collections Storage
My fabric resources have grown beyond their original home in the closet of the sewing room, so I've (temporarily (maybe)) annexed the guest room as secondary storage.  Really, those bins don't fit in the closet very well so I'd like to come up with some more compact options.

Also probably half of that can be deaccessioned and at least a third is already part of a concrete project plan.  The other fraction bits are mostly scraps or bits I can make mockups out of at some point...but dude.  Nobody needs that much.  I need to stop shopping and get sewing!  Oh, and let's not talk about the rolls of silk in the sewing room closet.  Just...shhhhh.

HISSSSS

Now this...this is my nemesis.  This is the so-called "put on the stairs to go up" pile that started embarrassingly long ago (that box is left from when we moved in 2015...though I don't think it's been there the whole time), which never seems to get any smaller no matter what is taken off of it and transported elsewhere in the house.  It's gonna have to go soon, though, because that nasty-ass paneling is getting ripped off and drywalled ASAP.  Where will it go?  No idea.  What's even in that pile at this point?  EVEN LESS idea!

Molly Moodle!

This is the sight that greets me whenever I descend from the sewing stratosphere and reenter the land of those who don't have project deadlines.  The doggies are banned from the upstairs because of reasons, but it sure is nice to come down to a welcoming smile.

Monday, August 14, 2017

CoBloWriMo Day 14: Dream Project

For a long time, I had projects that I knew I wanted to tackle but wanted to wait until I was "good enough."  And to some extent that's valid; we're all constantly evolving and improving our skill sets, so some projects that seemed horribly daunting five years ago (or more, or less, depending on the project!) suddenly seems achievable.

That's definitely the case with one of my more recent projects, my 1810s riding habit.  I've wanted a habit of some kind for years and years, even before I started riding horses or tried riding sidesaddle.  It seemed so unattainable for so long, and yet here we are!  And yes, I do plan to do a few more posts on that project.

Holy sh*t I actually made this!

So, I've made a new commitment to myself.  Now is the time to tackle all those pie-in-the-sky dream projects.  All those gowns, habits, wrappers, and frocks I wish I could have...this is the time to make them.  Not when I'm thinner, not when I've reached a certain age, not when I've achieved some amorphous level of "better" in my sewing.  Now.  Today.  Or, well, soon, since there are a lot!

Kyoto Costume Institute


Detail, Sir James and Lady Hodges and Their Family, c. 1776 (Sir Nathaniel Dance-Holland)

Not pictured: the million yards of buttery yellow silk taffeta in my stash for this gown.

Kyoto Costume Institute


Apparently, I really like yellow.  It's a great color!  I should go for some variety though.

Gallery of Fashion, 1799
DAR Reproduction fabric by Burnley & Trowbridge
© Victoria and Albert Museum, London
This one is still up in the air as to style.  I've made a brown wool petticoat but I have to decide on what time period I really want to pursue with the jacket.  The coat above is a really nice 1760s example, which I find charming...but this detail from a painting of the Wedgewood Family by George Stubbs is also really pretty!

Detail, c. 1780
I also have yards and yards of this beautiful Colonial Williamsburg reproduction cotton that could become any number of things.


From the Royal Ontario Museum @ROMtextiles Twitter Account
Then there's also this fantastic wool plaid, which is earmarked for something 1860s.  That's going to start soon, since I want to wear it for Remembrance Day in Gettysburg in November.





Also for Gettysburg, I'm in need of a new ballgown.  That sounds extravagant, but the reality is that I just don't have one that fits!  Ginger was every so kind enough to pick up some very affordable pink silk for me in the LA Garment District, so this is on my list of plans-to-make-soon, too:



Phew!  That's quite a list, and I'm a little big chagrined to admit that all but the very last one will be made with fabric that is *already in my house and has been for some time already*.  All but two are from fabric that's been mine for more than six months, and several will be using fabric that I've had for years.  I guess I'd better get cracking so my reality can catch up with my dreams!

Sunday, August 13, 2017

CoBloWriMo Day 13: Pro Tip

The thing about a "pro tip" prompt is that it implies the writer of the prompt fill is a pro.  I guess I could just steal a tip from a pro but that's not very ethical or interesting, is it?

So, while I might not be a professional in the same field I write about here, I've got a certain level of experience with various facets of my hobbies at this point.  With that in mind, here is a short list of tips I came up with based on my own experiences:

  • Give yourself permission to make something crappy.
We all have to start somewhere.  In my "origin story" post, I talked about some of my less-than-stellar early work and said I was embarrassed of my earlier creations.  That's actually unnecessarily harsh; even the projects that didn't turn out the way I wanted gave me experiences to build on and became the paving on the road that got me to where I am now.  In my case, I had to make some crappy stuff before I got to where I was making things that I considered to be good stuff, and that's totally all right.  If I had never taken the first step, I wouldn't be here today.
  • Make lists.
Seriously; who doesn't get satisfaction out of crossing stuff off their list?

Look at all those check marks!
  • Don't sew tired (as you can see on my list!)
Just like drowsy driving can be just as dangerous as driving drunk, drowsy sewing can lead to terrible (though usually less deadly) consequences for your project.  Sleepiness can impair your judgement, vision, and motivation, which leads to making poor decisions, taking shortcuts, and making mistakes.  I'm not saying I haven't pulled some late hours to get more sewing time in once or twice (or more...) but in general I'm much happier with my work when it's done while I'm awake and aware.

  • Wear your (f*cking) undies (as per my list as well)
Just...wear a corset, for fuck's sake.  Get one that fits and it'll be comfortable.  I promise.  Outsourcing your unders is definitely a pro tip...I've commissioned shifts before, and I've made them for people who didn't have time or motivation to make their own!  Corsets are the same; so far I've made all mine, but there are some amazing corsetmakers out there and I am seriously just waiting for Redthreaded to put their 1790s stays on pre-sale because that will save me SO MUCH TIME do you even understand?! :D

  • Mind your proportions
This might actually deserve a post all its own, but basically...make things in proportion to themselves and their wearers.  That along with the proper silhouette will go a LONG way in making your stuff look "real" rather than costumey.  Unless of course you're going for costumey, in which case...more is better usually!

I'm sure there are more things I've done wrong and learned from, but that's what I came up with for now!  What about you?  What are your favorite tips?

Saturday, August 12, 2017

CoBloWriMo Day 12: Garment

In a stunning contrast to all the prompts that have required me to (attempt to) make a decision on my favorite whatsit, today's prompt leaves its one word open for interpretation.

Not a garment

The Past Patterns 031, Circa 1796-1806 Lewis & Clark Era: Empire Gown pattern is pretty ubiquitous at this point.  There are dozens if not hundreds of versions out there on reenactors and costumers alike, and its distinctive seam lines are both appealing and easily recognizable.

That narrow back, tho...

My version is currently in-progress, made of a gorgeous striped linen from Burnley & Trowbridge.  They sold out of it once and I was super sad to only have gotten a 2yd remnant, so when it came back in stock I leaped on it so hard I probably dislocated something!

Genesee Country Village & Museum, 2015
The original dress from which the pattern is taken is quite rustic, made of homespun cotton cloth and lined with coarser, mismatched pieces of linen.  As you can see above, though, the pattern lends itself to all kinds of variations.  Julie made hers in a beautiful, airy woven stripe and it turned out great!

From The Met, c. 1809
The original above is another example of that very narrow back and armscye that extends back over the shoulders.  This example is back-closing, which is something I hadn't considered, but I suppose the pattern could also be altered to do this!

I apparently don't have pictures of the many recreations and variations of this pattern that I've seen "in the wild," so to speak, but I'd love to see your version if you have made one!  I had to rip off the skirt of my version last night because the whole bodice is just a little too big, so once I resize that a bit and reattach the skirt, look for more updates soon!