February 18, 2017

Pretty in Pink

"Next week I shall begin my operations on my hat, on which you know my principal hopes of happiness depend." - Jane Austen, October 27, 1798

It is a truth universally acknowledged that one can never have too many ruffles!
(Photograph courtesy of Maria M.)

Just a quick post today showing off my newly-trimmed cap, which I had intended to finish for Valentine's Day!  

Completed Project Pictures



Other side.

Made from the last of the three yards of fine cotton lawn I bought for caps, it features two starched ruffles and a satin bow - hence, the title, pretty in pink!  Entirely hand-stitched using the period construction techniques of rolled whipped gathers and rolled hems. 

Fun fact: the "ribbon" is actually vintage quilt binding!
Hand tacked for easy removal.

I practiced my couching stitches to attach the ruched strip to the band.

Now for some fun, pictures of the first wearing, all thanks to the sister and resident photographer:  In fact, it's the first wearing for both the cap and the crossover robe, which I may have worn out in public to a day of sewing with my partner-in-crime-and-sewing-projects...it was worth it! 

In case you were wondering, it's a two story book
with Sense & Sensibility and Northanger Abbey. 

All I will say for now is that the new outfit is part of a secret sewing project with the partner-in-crime...all will be revealed, soon...so stay tuned for the upcoming blog post!

In the meantime, I'll get back to rolling hems because one can never have too many caps!  Especially now with the ombre hairdo...I have a perfectly enabling excuse to pursue all things frilly and fru fru for the head haha!  I just need to order more cap making material...more lawn or maybe try organdy?  Any suggestions?  

February 12, 2017

1 Hussif + 2 Reticules = A Sewing Round-Up

How about a sewing round-up to kick off this month's blogging?  Today's post is all about the accessories, those finishing touches that pull the outfit together!

Way back in December, I put together three, little satisfying projects that hopefully will get lots of use in the coming months: 

1 Hussif or Housewife

Hussif | noun |
1.  A little case or bag for materials used in sewing, 
and for other articles of female work. 
2.  Origin - From Middle English huswif, equivalent to house +‎ wife

As introduced in the article, "The Soldier’s Hussif," which presents an illustrated history of the military sewing kit from the American Civil War to the 1990s:
"The term 'housewife' refers to a sewing kit but housewife was not the only term used. They were also known as huswife, hussive, or, most commonly, hussif, which appears to be the contraction of the word 'housewife'. By the beginning of the Regency, hussif was the term most often used to refer to these small pocket sewing kits by nearly everyone, though pronunciation of the word would vary from region to region across Britain." - Nicola, author and designer at Hands Across the Sea Samplers

My hussif or housewife is completely hand stitched from a variety of reproduction cottons, heavy weight linen for the interior lining, and wool scraps for the needle pages:

What I like best is that each of the fabrics used, minus the orange which was a gift from my partner in crime, Judy, came from previous projects.  Dresses, a short gown, petticoat, a tiny sacque coat for C - small accessories are a perfect way to put those fabric scraps to use! 

Rolled up and ready for action!

2 Regency Reticules

Reticule | noun | \ˈre-ti-ˌkyül\  
1.  A woman's small handbag, originally netted and typically having a drawstring
and decorated with embroidery or beading.
2.  Origin - Early 18th century: French réticule, from Latin reticulum 

A while ago, The Dreamstress published a fascinating article on the use of reticules and the ridicule they inspired at first in "Terminology: What is a reticule or indispensable?"  It's a very interesting read, if you haven't already through the original Historical Sew Fortnightly.  On the reticule's rise to fashion, she writes: 
"At the end of the 18th century, as fashions changed from full skirted dresses that could easily conceal pockets, to slim garments of light fabrics that would show unsightly bulges over pockets, that reticules came into their own.  Easily made, easily carried, they were the indispensable accessory of the last decade of the 18th century and the first three decades of the 19th.  They were, in fact, so very indispensable that they were also known as indispensables." - The Dreamstress, Leimomi Oakes

Intended for an upcoming Jane Austen Festival, I set out to make two, new indispensables of my own.  Eventually, the should have coordinating outfits too haha!  

The first was inspired by this extant in a private collection - unfortunately, I cannot locate the source, and would love to recover it to give credit: 

Mine is constructed from a beautiful wool challis, dark grey/black silk taffeta and white twill for the lining.  The tassels were a compromise, cut from home decor trim: 

Intended for day use, it's a pretty good size at about 11" top to bottom and just under 9" at the sides.  It's my favorite of the projects shared in this post, and I'm so looking forward to using it at an event! 

The second, triangular reticule came from the American Girl's Book by Miss Eliza Leslie, first published in 1831:

The directions were as follows:
"Cut your silk into three pieces of equal size. Each must be about a quarter of a yard in depth, and half a quarter wide. The sided of each must be straight till within a finger’s length of the bottom; they must then be sloped off to a point. Sew those three pieces of silk together, (inserting a covered cord between the seams,) and make them all meet in a point at the bottom. Put a tassel or bow at each corner, and one at the bottom. Hem down the top, and run a ribbon into it." - American Girl’s Book (1831) by Miss Eliza Leslie

A Three Sided Reticule.
(Source: World Turn'd Upside Down)

My version was constructed from a vibrant, striped silk taffeta and lined in polished cotton.  It is just under 10" from top to bottom.  

Best of all, it feature the same tassels as the first; and, despite how neat it looks, I never want to have to deal with three tassels at a point again! 

Have you reproduced a Regency reticule recently?  Thanks for reading!

January 31, 2017

HSM January Challenge: Firsts & Lasts

Oh hello, my poor neglected blog...it's me, your writer.  I may have dropped the ball on blogging this month, but I did sew some.  In fact, I just snapped a few pictures of my recently completed corset and giant sleeve puffs to serve as my January entry for the 2017 Historical Sew Monthly!  That's right, after a year off, I've decided it's time to rejoin the global sewing challenges, hosted by the Dreamstress.  (Click the link to join the fun!)

Part I:  The Corset

First, I must say a huge thank you to my good friend, Allison, for all of her assistance...from generously providing the pattern - Past Patterns #708, not to mention her apartment, to all of her encouragement and assurance that gussets without a seam are not as impossible as they look.  Though, it did take an entire afternoon to stitch all sixteen of those in (and out when they weren't behaving) haha!  

Laced and ready to wear!

The corset is made with two layers of cotton drill, bound with caramel colored bias tape and flossed with a matching DMC floss:

It features two bust gussets per side: (That's eight bust gussets total counting the inside layer)

A front and back hip gusset on each side:

A front opening busk and six bones, which, though less that I'm used to, provides ample support:

And laces up the back with size 00 grommets:  Which, by the way, took me three hours, two hammers, a pair of pliers, sandpaper and steel wool to punch.  I bought a really nice grommet kit from my favorite corset supplies supplier, and was uh a little disappointed...maybe next time I'll just hand stitch those eyelets... 

All in all, I am very pleased with the results.  Fit wise, it produces much more "lift" at the bosom than I expected, so I may cheat and use it for earlier-19th century purposes.  When I'm up to making another corset, I will have to remember to shorten the front...as I am having a little difficulty sitting with the length as it is now, hmm.  Regardless, it needs a good pressing, but the inside looks as nice as the outside, which makes me very happy! 

Part II:  The Sleeve Puffs

Much, much larger than the last pair with twill tape ties to secure them to the inside of my 1830s ball gown bodice...if it ever behaves so I can finish it:

Staple of the high fashion of the 1830s or not,
I still see a remarkable resemblance to croissants! 

Stockings, shift, corset & sleeve puffs.

And onto the entry details:

The Challenge:  January: Firsts & Lasts - Create either the first item in a new ensemble, or one last piece to put the final fillip on an outfit.

Material:  Corset - cotton drill;  Sleeve puffs - cotton muslin

Pattern:  Corset - Past Patterns #708 (1840's - 1880's Corset);  Sleeve puffs - drafted my own

Year:  Corset - according to the pattern, 1840s - 1880s;  Sleeve puffs - early 1830s

Notions:  Corset - 12" busk, 6 metal bones, thread, cotton bias tape, DMC embroidery floss, 8 yard lacing, size 00 grommets;  Sleeve puffs - cotton batting, thread, twill tape

How historically accurate is it?  They would both certainly be recognizable in their respective time periods...

Hours to complete:  Didn't keep track, but the sleeve puffs probably took an hour or two, while the corset took several days

First worn:  Not yet, but perhaps for pictures when I finish the chemise...

Total cost:  Didn't keep track for the corset, but I bought the drill, busk, boning, a new awl, lacing, grommets and grommet kit.  So, I'd say $100?  Sleeve puffs were made from the stash.

January 1, 2017

Year in Review: Goodbye 2016, Hello 2017!

"Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow." 
~ Albert Einstein

Wishing all of you the happiest of Happy New Years!  It's out with the old, and in with the new; so, may you be happy the whole year through!

Time for one of the most rewarding posts of the year for any blogger...Looking back and reflecting upon the past year’s accomplishments and forward to another twelve months of sewing and blogging.  There were high points, and low points.  Times where I felt like I was moving forward, and times where I questioned why sew or blog anymore.  So, before the needles fly in this new year, it’s time to highlight the skills learned and challenges overcome in the past year through the 2016 sewing year in review:

January -  To start off the year, I finished my 1820s-esque Mad for Plaid Ensemble, featuring this dress and matching bonnet.  This was the last photo shoot Maria and I did before I left for Pittsburgh: 

Also, I made several Christmas gifts, including this patchwork pocket:

February -  February saw the completion of my 19th century sewing box and accessories:

March -  Most of my sewing this month was either for my production assignment in The Bluest Eye or as part of my costume shop apprenticeship at the Pittsburgh Playhouse.  Though I did manage to complete one personal project - a new, linen round-eared cap:

I was also talked into making a Facebook page for The Young Sewphisticate!

April -  April was a busy month in the shop as we built dozens of pieces for Drowsy Chaperone.  I think I worked around 60 hours in the two weeks before the opening - tacking trim, beading, and stitching wherever asked.  In all, I helped bring 11 pieces to the stage, including:

Macrame trim!

Art Deco Robe.

And more, which I still need to blog about sometime...

May - With classes, work at the costume shop (where I had the privilege of studying dozens of their extant garments up close and personally) and exploring the great city with friends, there wasn't much time to sew.  In any down time, I'd put a few more stitches into my semester-long Berlin work project, completed thanks to a care package containing DMC floss from the loving partner-in-crime:

June -  Home again, Maria and I resumed our photo shooting partnership with Short Gown Study IV, a golden short gown featuring hand-rolled trim:

July -  This was the summer of rolled hemming!  In addition to rolling half a dozen neckerchiefs at the museum (sorry no pictures), I made a new lawn cap and double ruffle chemisette!

Hosted my first "giveaway" with a housewife or sewing kit:

And taught my first summer camp that was all about 19th century fashion and FUN!  (Post pending to be published sometime before Fashion Fun take two...)  I will never forget my very sweet, first class of fashion enthusiasts:

August -  I completed my late-1820s project this month including a shift, sleeve puffs, dress with pelerine and other accessories:

I also made a beribboned cap, which won a blue ribbon at this year's agricultural fair!

September - I may have missed the Tall Ships to work on a special tourism project at the museum, but I finished the 1810s dotted dress anyways!

I also made a dotted chemisette based on an original extant garment to match: 

October - October brought three very special projects, including a little sacque coat:

...The great pleasure and privilege of being a part of one of my nearest and dearest friend's wedding celebration.  Two years ago we were talking about making her wedding dress someday, the running costume-designer-gone-bridal joke, but I never imagined the honor of being asked to make her wedding veil and rosettes for the bridal party:  

The tiniest rolled hem so the pearls would float!

...And finally, the chance to pull costumes for Sense & Sensibility all thanks to my director friend!  Not only did many of my personal Regency creations get their debuts onstage, but returning to YOHP and STAGES for the first times since senior year of high school brought back so, so many fond memories: 

The Dashwood Sisters - Elinor, Marianne and Margaret (left to right) -
First Act costumes on fitting day.

November -  I was Cinderella for Halloween:

And introduced Ginny as our traveling doll with a first foray into doll clothing, inspired after taking Anna Worden Bauersmith's straw doll millinery class.

December -  Last but not least, December brought several small, yet satisfying projects.  Including a new housewife or sewing kit:

Ginny resumed her adventures with a doll dress for Yuletide:

And the last projects of 2016 were two Regency reticules, which will be featured next, in the second blog post of 2017:

What to expect more of in the coming year:

  • Continued restoration efforts to most of the past blog posts
  • Much more sewing and photo shoots! 
  • Expansion of content to include more living history posts 
  • Eventual publishing of queued projects and posts
  • Updates to all of my social media platforms 

What a year to review!  A most sincere thank you to all who read and encourage my sewing adventures.  Each and every “like,” comment and subscription here (and on Facebook) was greatly appreciated – your continued support keeps me sewing!  May your needles always be sharp, and your fabric stashes always overflowing!

Cheers 2017, and may we make every minute count!