Friday, May 1, 2015

Early 1920s Dress and the WGBH Downton Abbey Event

I've become a bad blogger, but it's not entirely my fault; full time work plus part time school has been sucking my soul! I'm studying to be a programmer and I'm in the advanced classes now, so it's time-consuming and draining. However, I have managed to do some sewing in between! I have several works-in-progress that I've been doing off and on, and then one complete new ensemble, including underpinnings: my first 1920s!

When I heard that WGBH was putting on a Downton Abbey 1920s themed event, I knew I was going to have to attend! Because there were only a couple of weeks until the event, I knew I wasn't going to be attending in costume, because that would just be crazy. But I started working on a copy of an antique 1920s brassiere in my collection anyhow, and bought some silk for a 1920s dress I'd make "some day," because now I had 1920s on the brain. . .

Long story short, I decided the day before the event that there was no way I was going without a costume, and I pulled another classic Jenni over-night costume-making adventure! I made this entire dress - plus a slip - plus finishing the brassiere repro - in just under two days. Madness! The only thing that wasn't finished was that I didn't hem the dress. That probably seems lame, because seriously, how long does it take to hem a dress, right? But I was literally sewing the straps of the brassiere and slip while it was on my body, while I was frantically dressing to go. We were a little bit late, but that's fashionable, right?

1920s Dress at WGBH Downton Abbey Evening

This event was so much fun! They had everything you can imagine, from dancing and live 1920s style music, to a fashion show, to delightful champagne and 1920s themed cocktails. One of my favorite bits of the evening was getting pictures in front of the backdrop of Highclere Castle (aka, Downton Abbey). . . (Please ignore that my dress is too long; it will be correct once it is hemmed!)

1920s Dress at WGBH Downton Abbey Event in front of Highclere Castle Backdrop

We also had a blast with the photo booth. Of course, our pictures clearly show what serious people we are. . .

Photo Booth at WGBH 1920s Downton Abbey Event

My dress was inspired by one I saw from an early 1920s National Suit & Cloak illustration. When I was still in my "I won't make a dress for the Downton event, but I want a 1920s dress some day" frame of mind, I was all about embroidering the dress. . . But when I decided to make a dress over night, obviously that was out of the question! I'll go back and add some embroidery at a future date. . .

1920s National Suit & Cloak, inspiration for the 1920s dress

However, without the embroidery, my dress was looking quite plain. I was going to make a self-fabric sash, but then I remembered this antique belt I had in my collection, which was a gift from Glenn last year. It was too small for me, but I added a small piece of fabric temporarily to make it work. I think it worked out pretty well!

Vintage or antique beaded belt and 1920s silk dress

The dress is made of silk (georgette, maybe?) and this is fabric likes to slip around and shapeshift, and can be a beast to work with, but here's my pro tip for you: Put a bit of tissue paper beneath the fabric, sew through the fabric and tissue, and then tear away the tissue. (Actually, what I'm using here is medical exam table paper. So there's another pro tip for you: Medical exam table paper! Not only is it good for sewing slippery sheer silks, but I also use it for tracing patterns and making initial drafts of my own patterns, because you can see through it to trace, and it's flexible enough that you can pin it and see how it's shaping over the body or dress form, yet just sturdy enough to put up with that sort of thing. And it's cheap!)

Pro tip for working with slippery sheer silks, use tissue paper or medical exam table paper and then tear it away

In the midst of all this sewing, I decided I would try - for the first time ever - to get marcel waves in my hair. So I took a patterning break and set my hair, and later a sewing break to see how it turned out. Before I brushed it out, it was pretty awesome! But then I brushed it and it sort of went crazy. . .

1920s marcel waves, setting the hair in clips  1920s marcel waves, after the clips came out  1920s marcel waves, after combing it out a bit

I think if I had more skill/practice, I could have worked with it more and made it awesome, but of course I didn't, plus I had plenty of sewing ahead of me! So I just ended up curling my hair and doing the best I could to give it an early 1920s look, which is more appropriate to the era of my dress than the severe marcel waves anyhow.

At the WGBH Downton Abbey Evening 1920s Event

All in all, it was a spectacular evening, and I hope they will host it again next year!

Monday, November 17, 2014

King Richard's Faire 2014

I did indeed manage to squeeze in a visit to King Richard's Faire, just in time, during closing weekend. (I can't believe that was already a month ago!) The good news is, it was wonderfully warm. The other good news is, I got to make use of my new shift and accessories I'd been working on!

Finished 16c Faire ensemble

Finished 1560s - 1570s ensemble

I had been planning to just go on my own, but my husband was kind enough to offer to go with me, and I think even he ended up having a good time! We did archery, watched a few shows, and of course, had to see the joust. We selected where to sit at random, and ended up with a Scottish knight! This is so appropriate since I am Scottish, and had I been seated elsewhere, I'd probably have been cheering this knight anyhow. ;)

Scottish knight at King Richard's Faire in Carver

I was impressed that he was wearing a kilt with this armor!

Scottish knight wearing kilt at joust

That would have been the highlight of this year's Faire for me, but then. . . I met King Richard himself! SO AWESOME!!!

Jenni and King Richard at King Richard's Faire in Carver MA

So it was a perfect year at the Faire, and I can't wait for next year!

Friday, October 17, 2014

One more accessory for Faire this year. . .

I finished one more accessory for my trip to King Richard's Faire this year. . . Though to be honest, while it's plausibly historically accurate, it's not the correct period for the rest of my faire garb! This pouch is medieval, while the rest of my ensemble is meant to be c. 1560s-70s. What can I say? When I saw a historic purse that involved cats, I could not resist. And I'm quite certain there will not be anyone at the faire secretly snarking about my mis-matched eras since I fully anticipate being surrounded by people in costumes spanning medieval through Victorian, plus modern day, and things that never existed at all! ;)

Finished medieval kitty bag

And then just one more shot, with the ties not drawn up. . .

Finished medieval kitty purse

This was such a quick, fun little project! Mine is quite small, as I used fingering weight yarn and size 1 1/2 needles, but just by altering your yarn/needle sizes, you can make this in all kinds of sizes. As it is, mine turned out so that it fits my phone and money perfectly, and really, what else do you need at Faire (assuming your phone is also your camera)? ;)

For more details (and a link to the pattern/charts), feel free to check out my Ravelry page for this project.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

16th Century Smock

Next up on my list of enhancements to my 16th century ensemble was an upgraded "smock." My previous smock was made in cotton, and partially machined to save time. I'd be longing for something a little more accurate, so this time around, I used handkerchief linen, and hand sewed it. I Frankenpatterned, using Kannik's Korner's 18th century shift to get basic proportions, as I already know and love that pattern. Then, I referenced The Tudor Tailor to see what I'd need to change to make it accurate for the 16th century.

16th Century Smock

I went with just a basic scooped neck because it's what suited the rest of my ensemble, but instead of just turning the raw edge under, I made a self-fabric bias binding to act as a casing. I did this because I made the mistake of buying cheap linen, and it frayed worse than any fabric - linen or otherwise - I have ever worked with! I would have preferred the turned-under edge finish, but the casing method worked out all right too. For the cuffs, I knew I wanted ties at the wrists. Tudor Tailor shows just one set of ties per cuff, but I went with two because I had this lovely narrow tape and I thought it would look delicate and pretty to have two sets of ties.

16th Century Smock, detail of cuff

So, with this new smock, I'm technically ready for the Faire! However, there's always room for more accessories. . . ;)

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!