Thursday, August 14, 2014

16th Century Accessories

I've been working lately on a few enhancements for my c. 1560s-70s ensemble, with the hopes of making it to King Richard's Faire this year. First up, I finished a partlet:

Partlet frontPartlet sidePartlet back

I made this using two layers of handkerchief linen from fabrics-store.com (off-white color but I can't remember which of their "white" shades this is - both their optic and bleached white are more of a winter white, FYI), and the pattern is from The Tudor Tailor. I hand-sewed it just as the book describes, but when finished, I felt an urge to make tiny, perfect top-stitches around all the edges. . . So I did just that, and I think it made a difference because it seemed less flimsy and "slippery" after that.

Even though the collar is capable of standing somewhat on its own (even pre-starching!), I'm currently thinking of wearing it folded down, like this:

Partlet front

I also bought some cheap cotton shoes that are not period correct by any means, but are a bit better than the Sketchers I wore last time! At least these are just a plain woven cotton, dark in color, and should not stick out.

Shoes

I'm working on a few more items to step up my 16th century game, but what I complete will all depend on when I end up going to the Faire!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Treat Yo' Self!

A couple of weeks ago, I had an heartbreaking disappointment which left me feeling pretty down in the dumps. I did all the things that generally cheer me up (ironed a bunch of fabric, organized the sewing room, and made more double-fold bias tape than you can shake a stick at), but ultimately decided that I deserved to treat myself to something special and frivolous. I decided I would at last purchase the Wooded Hamlet crinoline kit! It's the perfect frivolous choice for me since it's pricier than I would regularly spend on an underpinning, and I have already made at least three crinolines for myself rendering it not really necessary!

Once I'd decided I would make that fabulous crinoline, I clearly needed a whole new underpinning set to go with it! So, one thing led to another, and I ended up ordering a ton of white fabric, plus some other fabric and random supplies for upcoming projects.

Then, over the weekend, we went to Brimfield, and this happened:



This Brimfield trip was one of the best yet, aside from it being terribly muddy! I got the best deals (such as 1930s dress patterns and 1950s hat patterns at $1-$2 a piece!) and found way more than I usually do (as the picture proves!) I'm probably most excited about that c. 1880s bonnet, which is stunning and absolutely covered with amazing beadwork, and which my husband negotiated down to $25. Amazing! I am most definitely going to be making a repro of that at some point in the future!

So, it's been a somewhat pricey couple of weeks, but well worth it because I officially feel back in the saddle again! Also, I won't need to order anything at all for the foreseeable future. Tom & Donna would be proud, I think. ;)

Sunday, May 4, 2014

A New Bonnet, and Fort Fred Adventures!



Last weekend, I travelled to Gloria's place and had a fabulous pair of days seeing the sights in DC, and then attending the Fort Fred marketplace on Saturday. I refashioned an old dress to temporarily fit my not-my-usual-size-self by making a quick stomacher and pinning it in, but more importantly, I finished this fabulous, huge, new bonnet to wear with it!





It was so much fun getting to shop in person from all these places I usually only get to see online!





After all kinds of shopping, I came away with a pair of silk stockings and this neckerchief, which Gloria kindly held up for a picture:



I took a lot of pictures over the course of the weekend, and had lots of pictures taken of me, but this one is by far my favorite, for how very silly it is!



To see more pictures of the adventures and the costumes of all my fabulous friends, please check out the Fort Fred 2014 page on my web site.

Such a great weekend! So many thanks to Gloria for hosting me, and to Taylor and Stephanie for the pictures of me! Hopefully I can make it down for more of the DC area events in the future!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

17c Hat Progress. . .

My shellac finally arrived yesterday, and as I was working from home and knew it would arrive that day, I started my work day quite early so that I could do the first coat at lunch break, the second immediately after work, and then additional coats throughout the evening as needed. But first, it had to come off the block!



Next, I moved the adventure outdoors and gave the hat its first coat of shellac:



I did so many coats! My last one, it was almost totally dark out! I was using a pre-mixed shellac/denatured alcohol that came in a spray bottle, ready to go. I won't go this route again because even with so many generous coats, it still is too floppy, and worse, it caused white blotches which you'll see in some of the pictures below. So, for the next time, I'm going to go with the more traditional brush-on type! And for this hat. . . Well, I'm out of time until I get back from Virginia on Sunday! But post-Fort Fred, I'll try to remove those blotches, and then try out the brush-on mixture on this hat (before I move on to my really nice quality black capeline!)

But, pretending I'm done with stiffening, and having trimmed the edges to be nice and smooth, added a hat band and some temporary trimmings, here is my hat:



And, the best I could do to get a picture of it on since nobody else is here and I'm not good at selfies:



So far. . . I love it! I think I might cut back the brim a bit more, but I'm going to wait until I've finished stiffening to make a final judgement call on that. Also, clearly that's not a period-correct ensemble for this hat! Another post-Fort-Fred-trip project. ;)

In other news, I had so much fun with making this that I forsee the possibility of becoming a bit of a felt hat making addict! I'm already coming up with ideas of all kinds of hats for various eras. . . Although, the trick will be coming up with appropriate hat blocks!

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Adventures in hat blocks & blocking. . .

I was recently asked if I had ever tried blocking felt hats, and my answer was no, that I'd only worked with shaping straw hats. So, I decided to block a felt hat! I placed an order with a millinery supply shop for a lovely quality black wool felt capeline (and some shellac) but just had a funny feeling it was going to take a while to get to me. As I was very anxious to get going on this project, I bought a couple of cheap hat blanks on eBay. This turned out to be a good decision because I'm still waiting for the millinery supply hat, but the eBay hats arrived on Saturday!

So, I had hat blanks, but the one critical thing that I was missing was a hat block. I searched everywhere I could think of online, but all I could find were the usual oval/head-shaped blocks. What I was after was a round block, with a sort of tapered cylinder shape. I simply could not find what I had in mind, but one can not very well shape a hat without something to shape it on! So I thought perhaps if I had a fabric with no give and a firm weave, I could make it of fabric and stuff it somehow. As it turns out, I have this ridiculous plaid fabric that I've been hanging on to even though I thought it really had no purpose since it was almost like plastic, it was that stiff and non-stretchy! Even on the bias, this fabric pretty much doesn't budge! So, yesterday, I patterned it and sewed it up. . .



I left the seams on the bottom outside intentionally so that it would be a bit easier to sew the opening once the form was stuffed! And, that brings me to the next problem: What to stuff it with? I thought perhaps sawdust, since that is what I use for making the bodies for my reproduction French fashion dolls, but I didn't have enough on hand to fill it. So, I decided to try sand, since it's really cheap and can be bought at any Home Depot or Lowe's. Here is the finished item (and my highly sophisticated sand scoop!) ;)



I felt like I might have over-stuffed it a bit, so I ended up removing a bit of it. Woody was very helpful with this. . . Or, maybe he thought this was some funky new form of a litter box!



I think this option could theoretically have worked, but even though the fabric did not stretch, and the sand was VERY tightly packed (I used a mallet and pounded it into the most compact pile of sand I could manage), the entire thing still seemed to shift a bit from side to side if given a decent nudge. After all, this is sand we are talking about! I think it would have been a giant headache to be worried about checking that it was still upright and level the whole time I was also trying to shape the hat! So it's a good thing I have such an awesome husband who was willing to try to turn a log from the wood pile into a wood hat block!



We don't have a lathe, so Glenn was limited to chisels and his sander. I think it actually turned out quite well! (It actually tapers a bit more in "real life" than it appears to in the picture. Not sure why it would not photograph the way I was seeing it!) I felt like I could totally use this for my felt hat making experimentation.



Funny story: We had this long conversation on Saturday morning about how it would be so great to know someone who did woodworking, or who at least had a lathe, but alas, we didn't have the proper connection. Meanwhile, little did we know, Glenn's brother was not even thirty minutes away, messing around with his newly-purchased lathe! Found that out this morning at Easter brunch. Things I wish I knew yesterday!!! Ha ha ha!

This morning, I got up early so I would have time to block my hat before heading out to Easter brunch at the in-laws' house. Here is the "before" shot of the capeline:



I got it really damp and pliable using a combination of my steamer and a plant mister, molded it over Glenn's block, and used push pins to hold the brim out the way I wanted it. I was aiming for something along the lines of some extant 17th century hats in the Victoria & Albert Museum, (T.22-1938 and T.23&A-1938). I think it turned out pretty well! Mine might not taper quite as much as my inspirations, but after all, this was about challenging myself to shape a felt hat, not create a hat block, right? So I'm calling this a success! ;)



So now, I'm letting it dry, and also waiting for my shellac to arrive in the mail. Then I'll give it a couple of coats of that, then trim it, and it will be ready to wear!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Regency Intensive Dance Weekend, and the start of a new dress. . .

I've just returned home from the CVD Regency Intensive Dance Weekend, and thought I would promptly post my few pictures. Why so few? Because we were dancing almost non-stop! There were five hours of classes on Saturday, followed by a soiree in the evening. The pictures below are from that soiree. . .



Glenn looking thoughtful and dapper:



And myself looking perhaps a little tired and overwhelmed (as indeed I was):



Guys, they mean it when they call this weekend "intense." Indeed, for someone who has almost zero dancing experience, and especially someone like me who is better off learning things a small chunk at a time as opposed to ALL THE THINGS at once in one half of a day, it really is quite grueling and overwhelming. That said, the CVD people are AWESOME. They are so friendly and welcoming, and patiently guided us through each dance we messed up (which was almost all of them, unfortunately!) I did learn the basic steps so that theoretically, I can dance a dance if someone just tells me what the "moves" are and queues me as to when I'm supposed to do them vs. wait for the head couples to move to a certain point. . . But if nobody is prompting me? I get lost. Also, when they taught the basic travelling step at the start of the weekend, I apparently did it completely wrong, and didn't know that until several dances in, when another dancer kindly caught me aside on a water break and very patiently helped me re-learn it. But, since I'd missed the chance to repeatedly practice it (correctly, anyhow), it's like I couldn't get it into my muscle memory because I was so busy trying to memorize everything else. Anyhow. Really long story short is that it was a lot to absorb in a condensed amount of time, and I felt so bad about messing up all their dances, especially since we seemed to be the only ones who weren't pros! So, we decided that instead of doing the second day, we'd go off and have a tourist day in the north shore. Hence, no pictures of the grand ball. Instead, we took a little driving tour of the area had some delicious ice cream by the sea in Gloucester, and finished up the day by taking in a movie. Very relaxing, which is just what we needed after the non-stop pace of the day before!

I'd started a second ball gown (since there would be two evening events, and I thought it would be more fun to have a different dance for each!) but to be honest, by the time the classes ended, I already suspected I wouldn't be attending day two, so I didn't make an attempt to swiftly finish the second dress, and instead just wore my fancier ball gown to the soiree. Here's a sneak peek of the second ball gown that is not quite finished yet:


I really love this fabric, which is a wonderfully lightweight cotton with self-stripes as well as a thin silver metallic stripe running through it here and there (and cost me only $2.50/yard!) I finished all the seams as I went along, so I really do just need to add the skirt (panels are already seamed and ready to go), sleeve bands, and a hem. Exciting! But, I'm going to set this aside for a few weeks while I put finishing touches on my 18th century attire since there are now less than two weeks to my next costuming adventure: Fort Fred! Hooray for an exciting April full of sewing/costuming adventures!

Sunday, March 23, 2014

It's a little silly in my sewing room right now. . .

Well, the long story short is that I used old measurements for Glenn and the mock ups I assembled today were not a good fit. It looked so ridiculous - especially since the shirt has no sleeves yet - and I can't recall when we last laughed so hard! So I'm not sharing pictures of that with you, but I did go ahead and have some fun modeling the pieces for you myself. Over my modern clothes. I'm very silly today, I know. . . But if you don't laugh, you cry, right? Anyhow. . .

I call this one "Proud Mr. Darcy":



Regency gents know all about poppin' their collars! BWAH HA HA HA HA!!!!!



Um. . . I don't even know. Maybe I'm showing off my waistband? Or the fact that I didn't do any of the behind-the-scenes pieces on the pants so I'd be giving you a bit of a show if I weren't fully dressed in modern clothing underneath!



Right. Enough silliness. I'm going to see if I can get the patterns all traced and new mock-ups cut before it's time to bid farewell to this weekend!