Saturday, January 25, 2014

2014 HSF goals

This is mostly to get my ideas down somewhere as a reference, so apologies if this is a less exciting post than usual. Some of the goals are pretty aggressive and this is definitely more than the "half marathon" that I told myself I was striving for, so I'm giving myself permission to skip a challenge here and there to stay sane.

#1: Make Do & Mend

#2: Innovation - due Sat 1 Feb.
Skip, but plan on doing for the "ReDo" challenge later in the year.  While researching for the Pink challenge yesterday, I found a fun innovation, but have too many other projects with hard deadlines at the moment to slip this challenge in, since I was only planning to do the "half-marathon"

#3: Pink - due Sat 15 Feb.  
Embroidered handkerchief..which is turning into much more of a production than I originally anticipated

#4: Under it All – due Sat 1 March 
pantaloons from Victorian Undergarments class

#5: Bodice -due 15 March    

#6 Fairy Tale -due Tues 1 April
1860s dancing shoes from Grimm's "Twelve Dancing Princesses" or a purse from The Little Purse with Two Half Pennies or The Silver Shilling

#7: Tops & Toes – due Tue 15 April.  
Hat from 1880s hat class

#8: UFOs & PHDs – due Thur 1 May.  
Finish the uchigi I cut out but never started sewing

#9: Black and White – due Thur 15 May.
Still seeking inspiration but with as much as I love black, it shouldn't be difficult

#10: Art – due Sun 1 June.  
Medals from Alexander Suvarov painting?

#11: The Politics of Fashion – due Sun 15 July
The Edourd Josef Wimmer-Wisgrill dress that I previously posted about?  

#12: Shape & Support – due Tue 1 July.  
Corset from Victorian Corset class?  Panniers for Robe d'Anglaise?

#13: Under $10 – due Tue 14 July.  
Still seeking inspiration

#14: Paisley & Plaid – due Fri 1 August.
1890s skirt with the grey/black red plaid in stash?

#15: The Great Outdoors – due Fri 15 August.  
A  muff from the fake fur in stash

#16: Terminology – due Mon 1 September.
An Indespensible

#17: Yellow - due Mon 15 September
Still seeking inspiration

#18: Poetry in Motion - due Wed 1 October
Something medieval from a folk song?

#19: HSF Inspiration - due Wed 15 October
Wait until later in the year to decide

#20: Alternative Universe – due Sat 1 November
Still seeking inspiration but it shouldn't be difficult

#21: Re-do – due Sat 15 November
Redo Innovation

#22: Fort-nightliers Choice – due Mon 1 December. 
Can't decide till I know what the challenge is

#23: Modern History – due Mon 15 December
Still seeking inspiration

#24: All that Glitters – due Thur 1 January. 
Edwardian evening gown?

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Busy Like a Bee.. Victorian Undergarments Class and planning for HSF#3

So many things I want to work on!  Supplies for a variety of projects ordered from the web and I feel like a little kid running to the front door to see if anything has arrived every 5 minutes.

I signed up for Historical Sewing's "Victorian Undergarments" Online class and have been having a lovely time meeting my fellow classmates in the FB group and ordering patterns and fabrics for the class.  Since I don't know any fellow historical costumers in Atlanta, sewing can be kind of lonely and it is absolutely lovely to have a "Ladies Sewing Circle and Terrorist Society" to chat with and benefit from the "hive mind" and general companionship of like minded sewers.

Several of my fellow students were talking about doing undergarments and I found myself in analysis paralysis...  did I want to do black...  I love black..  and I do have a lovely stash of black laces and trimmings.....  but white was so pretty..  and more historically correct....

Solved my dilemma the usual way...  by buying both the white and the black!  My justification was whatever I didn't use immediately, I'd use it for something (sooner or later).  Hi...  my name is Alison and I am a fabric addict.  *sheepish smile*  Of course while buying the lawn, there may have been a few other things that slipped into the cart from the $3 a yard section...  a pretty green cotton/silk pique that might be an Edwardian blouse someday, some tan cotton/silk duponi that just begged to be dyed a deep gorgeous red or purple and some black and yellow pinstriped shirting that I think I will make my petticoat out of for class.  On my monitor the yellow looks like a soft ivory...  I'm praying it doesn't actually look like a bumble bee.  If it does...  it will end up being lining for something.

I also bought the handkerchief linen I needed for HSF#3....  and I totally blame the whole Pink theme for the hydrangea pink silk suiting I bought...  I have been so inundated by pink, thinking about the challenge that it wouldn't let me check out without being in my cart.  In my defense, it was also on the $3 a yard page.  Not sure what it will end up being (and know I won't touch it before the HSF #3 deadline) but it's now mine!

My "simple* idea for HSF #3 is turning out to be more complicated than I originally thought...sometimes I think I could complicate boiling water :)  I was planning on doing some pink embroidery on an existing handkerchief because I didn't have any handkerchief linen on hand.  But I thought about how superior my embroidery frame is to an embroidery hoop and remembered a pin I'd captured on my techniques board months ago of an 18th c. waistcoat that had been embroidered on the fabric before it was cut out.  

From the Museum Rotterdam: Uncleaved vest ivory white silk embroidered with floral motifs

So my plan is to mark out the handkerchief on the uncut fabric, baste the ends to the embroidery frame and do the embroidery before actually I cut out the handkerchief.

As to the pattern itself, I found a Dover book on white work that had some pretty corner patterns on the cover, but I wasn't sure what, if any historical the designs were from...  but as luck would have it, one of the reviewers that gave the book a 1 star rating was complaining that the book was nothing more than a reprint of The Chief Pattern Bool of Embroidery Patterns for the Improvement of Artistic Embroidery on Linens and the Promotion of  Good Handicrafts, first published in 1900 in Germany.   It was $7 on Amazon, adds to my back burner research of turn of the century German fashion and has a corner pattern on the cover that I like.  Which is important because of all of the sample pages Amazon made available, not a single one of them was a page of patterns.  Really, Amazon?!?!?

The intro of the book, which was available, talks about a pin prick method for transferring embroidery in which pins were pricked into the pattern at regular intervals, the pattern was placed on top of the fabric and chalk was forced thru the holes, thereby transferring the pattern.  I have to admit, I am curious to try this method, though I suspect it will end up being a spectacular failure.  But hey...  I have to indulge my curiosity!

I've gotten some recent feedback that the white sans serif font on black is difficult to read on the blog. I bumped the font size up 3 pts in response to that, but I'd be very interested in hearing from other people if they are having difficulty as well.  I definitely want it to be readable, but right now my data sample (one person says difficult to read, one person says they don't have any problem) is too small make any significant changes yet.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

HSF #1: Make Do and Mend (or Finishing a Hat)

Pretty much all of my favorite costuming bloggers have posted extensive recaps of their 2013 accomplishments and plans for 2014 projects.  While they were all delicious to read and revel in the pictures and creativity, when I looked at what I'd accomplished in 2013, it felt pretty inadequate in comparison.

Which initially coloured my thoughts on doing Historical Sew Fortnightly 2014.  I adore the concept of HSF.  It is pretty much everything I aspire to as a historical costumer.  I love seeing the creative ways that other costumers interpret the challenges and the gorgeous garments and accessories people create. But I'd been a failure with it in 2013...

1)  I only discovered it once it was over half way through
2) I kept failing to find a creative way to work my current list of basic costuming needs into the challenges. I am building my costume closet from the ground up.  I have a lot of "unsexy" projects to sew through to have the right foundations for all my impressive ideas
3)A challenge every 2 weeks  combined with my sewing schedule meant less than 10 hours to complete anything.

So I thought maybe I would just lurk and enjoy HSF 2014 from the sidelines.  But then I took a look at the full list of challenges for the year and realized that I had vague but immediate ideas for most of the odd numbered challenges. And it was permissible to do a "half marathon" and do odd or even numbered challenges.

 So I am tossing my hat (pun intended) into the ring and hoping to complete the half marathon in 2014.

Of course, I made this decision with a scant 3 days before challenge #1 is due (why make it easy on myself? :)  ), so this project is pretty modest.  But I think it fits the spirit of "Make Do and Mend" nicely.  I imagined myself as a shop girl using what she had on hand to spruce up an old hat to be a little more au courant, because she couldn't afford to buy a brand new one.

History of the Original Hat
Years ago, I bought a black straw hat in a resale shop and re-trimmed it with some scrap velvet, some vintage millinery feathers I'd had since college, an only slightly broken antique buckle  and an a pair of hair sticks that I had on hand.  I wore it with a pseudo Edwardian outfit for a live action Vampire the Masquerade game.  It's spent the past 10 years or so hanging on my bedroom wall.   It was definitely time for a(nother) refresh!  Even so, I had a brief pang of regret as I disassembled the trimmings.

But proceed I did! Taking it apart left me with some better than I expected trimmings and a slightly droopy straw hat to work with. Ironically, the feathers look much less ravaged off the hat, so they will be going back into my millinery stash.

Looking at the bare hat, it seemed a bit small for the classic Edwardian look I'd first envisioned:

Originally from Ladies Home Journal March 1912, posted at

However, I also found a similar hat in the Met Collection from 1890:

Hat c. 1890  H. O'Neill & Co. (American, New York) in the collection at 

I'm working on a 1890s walking skirt and shirtwaist and it would be nice to have a hat to complete the ensemble, so 1890s it was going to be!  I was briefly stalled on what I had on hand that was crisp enough to hold a bow, but I remembered some left over silk duponi that had already been used for 2 projects.  It wasn't striped (a pity) but it was on hand. My inner Victorian shop girl felt extra thrifty..  even though silk duponi isn't entirely period correct.

The plain bow was sort of cute just by itself, but my inner shop girl won out and I added a few more loops  of silk and kept tacking and poufing until I was happy with the result.    But it still needed...something...  so I added back the buckle that had previously been on the hat.

 The new and improved hat
Close up of the bow

The Challenge:  #1 Make Do and Mend
Fabric: Silk duponi, straw hat base, some existing velvet trim on the hat
Pattern: Visually inspired by the hat from the met pictured above
Year: 1890
Notions:  Thread
How Historically Accurate is it? 50%?   It's inspired by an extant hat, but materials are modern
Hours to complete: 3ish
First worn:  Probably in February 2014
Total Cost: $0  I made do entirely with materials I had on hand :)

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Holiday Goodies! (wherein the heroine loses her fortune at a fabric sale)

The best present I got was two weeks off of work and I've finally had some time to sew!  But coming in a very very close second was the professional dressmaker's dummy in (close to) my measurements that Jay got me.   Since I don't know anyone else in ATL that does historical or steampunk sewing, trying to do fittings being fitter and fittee had been driving me batty.  Hoping the dummy will be a big help on that front!

Jay also got me a cute little "sewing bird" for my sewing table

and a copy of Style and Splendor: The Wardrobe of Queen Maud of Norway 1896-1938 (that I'd been drooling over for close to a year)
Jay's sister got me a copy of The Empire's New Clothes: A History of the Russian Fashion Industry, 1700 -1917 (which I had also been lusting after) so I have 2 new books of fashion porn..  err research. :)
And Hancock Fabrics was having crazy After Christmas and New Year's Day sales so I laid in a good stock of black, burgundy and cherry red rayon velvet at (I kid you not) $7.65 a yard as well as some nice wool at 60% off and found some real bargains in wool and linen on their $2.97 table.  

I also nabbed a bolt of this cotton for $1.29 a yard that just seemed to say Wiener Werkstatte print (admittedly, early 1900s Viennese textiles have only been a casual study for me to this point) so I might give that Eduard Josef Wimmer-Wisgrill dress from my last post a go at some point this year.  If it turns out to be all wrong, then its a pretty lining for something.

On the actual sewing front, I finished my 1890s petticoat (Truly Victorian TV170, view 4) which was both a lot of fun and a lot of frustration to make.  The bottom ruffle is 10 yards long and it was my first time using a ruffler attachment.  The ruffler is great fun, but it took about 4 tries on different settings to get the ratio of ruffle to petticoat (with the corresponding pick all the threads out and ruffle 10 yards of fabric again...  and again..  and again)  One of my first projects of the new year is to do test runs on each setting of the ruffler so I know the setting I need in advance next time.  But I was watching Dr Who while sewing, so at least the time spent redoing wasn't too too tedious.

This was supposed to be a plain, basic petticoat as a test run with the plan that it would be an under-petticoat long term once I knew how the pattern went together and could get some nice cotton organdy. But me, being me, I had to add trim, which of course, extended the time it took to complete.

So I was all set to start a new project, but both options were thwarted right out of the gate.  The Reconstructing History pattern  I had for a 1940s dress had 2 versions on the front but no collar  pattern pieces or instructions for version that I wanted to make. And despite being certain I owned it, I did not have the 1890s walking skirt pattern that was also on my short list for projects.

So I emailed Reconstructing History, placed an order from Truly Victorian and moved on to plan C:  a Victorian chemise and drawers pattern included in the Laughing Moon Dore/Silverado corset pattern I had and I rang in the new year in the sewing room, cutting out a chemise.

I still have no idea what I am wearing to AnachroCon next month, but whatever it turns out to be, my undergarments will be pretty! :)