Treaty of Ghent Weekend

As mentioned in my 2019 goals post, I was an attendee of the 1st annual Treaty of Ghent Celebration. This event is held at Historic Camden, SC and was patterned after an actual event that supposedly took place to celebrate the end of the War of 1812 (hence the name). The date in question would have been 1815 so I geared my wardrobe towards the later part of the Regency.

A dress from Laughing Moon #138 was my new wardrobe debut this weekend. I used a lovely indigo blue and white window pane cotton from my stash. I made the dress with removable gathered sleeves to give the dress more utility. I didn’t make much of a fuss at pattern matching but I got some very lovely lines anyway. Having sewn this pattern before it was a relatively fast make. I just pinned the back for this event but I may eventually make more permanent fastenings. I made the cape too, but it was almost too warm to wear it.

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I commissioned a new “winter” friendly hat with matching reticle from Shocking Bad Hats.

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The weekend featured talks and shopping during the day. Evening entertainments included a house party with games and port tasting and a ball that ended with a Grand Illumination (canon fire and fireworks).

A really fantastic high tea was also on offer.

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I’ve never attended such a historically immersive event in the United States. It was really fun to be in rooms of the era, doing the historical things with people who were committed to dress the part. Also, this wasn’t billed as a reenactment so no issues with my pink hair or fancy nails. Win!

Plans are already afoot for 2020 and I, and all of my company are excited to attend again. The fact that this event is a manageable 3 and 1/2 hour drive from us is also great.

Some more photos!

My company at the Friday night party

IMG_2929Port and Madeira Wine TastingIMG_2904IMG_2902Losing at the Baccarat TableIMG_2919Gathering for TeaIMG_2934Posing during the BallIMG_3001Gathering to watch the IlluminationIMG_2996And that pretty much sums it up!IMG_2985

 

2019 — goals and aspirations

We’re almost at the end of January so it’s time to post this year’s sewing goals and aspirations. I took a bit of time to figure this out because I really wasn’t sure what I wanted to focus on or realistically how much time I’m going to have, especially in the first part of the year, to focus on sewing.

We are entering the last stages of a whole house renovation. Including the gut of our garage into a beautiful, fully conditioned studio, we have been under some level on construction for almost three years now. Luckily and thankfully, we were able to move out and live elsewhere for the last part. My stress level has been so much lower and my sanity has been mostly intact because of this. Hooray! Because of this, fairly soon I will need to put sewing temporarily aside and concentrate on putting the house back together. As it will sort of be like moving into a brand new house I’m very excited and anxious for this! While I have ambitious goals for 2019, I’m looking at it more like a wish list than a to do list. I’ll just have to see what is accomplished.

I don’t have a lot of events already planned in 2019 so there is not much on this list that is pressing. I do have a bucket list goal of attending Fetes Galantes at Versailles so prep for that figures into 2019. Anyway, I’ll explain more below…

More Regency:

I’m attending the 1st staging of The Treaty of Ghent Celebration and Grand Illumination in Camden, SC next weekend. As this is February in the south, the weather could go all sorts of ways. I’ve already made a historicalish cloak in case of chill but it looks, at the moment, like the weather will be fairly mild. Better to be prepared than not! The cloak is made from red stash wool with a blue / gray herribone print flannel lining. Technically it is fully reversible. I had not planned on adding any trim but when I cut the pattern out (Simplicity 5794), I accidentally cut the grain line marking, not the front! I fixed it but had to cover it up. I found the chenille and gimp trim for $1 a yard and it looks great. Happyish accident?image1image2

I’m also making a new version of Laughing Moon #138 for this event.

I will most likely be attending Jane Austen Festival in July so I’d like a new ballgown for that. This was on the docket last year but did not happen. I’ve since acquired even more potential ballgown fabric so 2019 is a must. I should also consider making another chemise and bodiced petticoat (or one of those suspender type petticoats).

1870s Polanaise ensemble:

I am long overdue to make a new 1870-1880 day dress / evening dress. I claimed this dress from Daniel Deronda for a group at Costume College. I bought the orange silk for the polonaise in the LA fabric district right after the event and I just found something for the skirt. Since I have everything and I committed myself, this will be my next historical project after I finish my Regency stuff for Treaty of Ghent (unless something comes up!)

 

18th Century / Robe a l’Anglais:

In prep for a potential trip to Fetes Galantes in 2020, I need to make a serviceable Robe a l’Anglais. Essentially, I want to make a wearable test dress so my eventual Fetes Galantes gown is not my first. I have a lot of the underpinnings already from 18th Century Strawberry Shortcake. I also have the fabric for this, again purchased in the LA fabric district. In the 18th Century vein, I wouldn’t mind revising the JP Ryan jacket pattern that I used for Strawberry Shortcake. It needs some fitting tweaks. I also think it would be pretty easy to knock out an actual historic look with that pattern.

1860s dress with evening and day bodices:

This guy has been hanging around for a while now. I still don’t have an elliptical hoop. My new plan is to make one myself using Laughing Moon #112. I just feel like I have to get this done somehow. The evening bodice is halfway complete!

Laughing Moon #117, not sure which view:

I bought this pattern and want to sew it. I bought some bright orchid purple poly taffeta with matching bright loud checked poly taffeta when I was in India. I think it would be insane and perfect for this.

Edwardian Suffragette Suit:

I was thinking this Butterick pattern and the kelly green cotton / linen blend I’ve had in my stash for a while.

Figure out vintage style pants / jeans:

This is another holdover. It became slightly less pressing when I found these jeans from Collectif (I bought two pairs) but I want to have a good fitting slacks pattern in my arsenal.

Sew more knits:

I’m hoping at some point this year to purchase a cover stitch machine. I’m pretty set on this Janome. It gets good reviews and is at a price point I’m willing to pay. This would help immensely with my knit fabric experiments.

Reorganize and purge my costume closet:

This isn’t a sewing goal per se but it needs to happen. I have a wonderful and very large cedar lined closet for all my costumes, antiques and kimono. I need to get stuff properly cleaned and hung up, go through everything and make sure I want all the stuff that is in there. I did get rid of some gowns a couple of years ago but it’s time to do it again. Also, I am sure I have way too many “project” accessories and hats. Several things got thrown in the closet when I had to clear my house for the current renovation, so it’s time. This does not include going through the fabric stash. That happened fairly recently. It could stand to happen again but I can basically find everything so it’s a lot less pressing.

Everthing else:

In addition to these things, there is what I call my regular sewing — vintage inspired dresses and outfits, including one off themed dresses and the odd cosplays. These items aren’t goals but they are sewing I’m sure I’ll be doing along the way.

Like 2018, and considering that I know I will be very busy with my house, I feel like this is a very ambitious (maybe doable?) list for 2019. I’ll just need to see how it goes and what gets thrown my way!

Wish me luck!

What I made – 2018

While I did not make a huge dent in my sewing goals I did manage to sew some stuff.

Here’s what I made in 2018:

Wax cotton with Simplicity 2506 from 1958IMG_8304

A mod take in scuba of New Look 6889

Harness by ApaticoIMG_8998

Tana Lawn Robe with Simplicity 8510 from 1969IMG_9287

Late Regency “Kermit” dress from Laughing Moon #138.

Hat by Shocking Bad HatsIMG_9674

Fairy Headress by Diamante QueenIMG_9760

Lace Guimpe from Laughing Moon #104. Everything else made in 2017.fullsizeoutput_3e52

Remade bodice for Stars & Stripes ballgown / Zip Tie headdressIMG_9851IMG_9837

18th Century Strawberry Shortcake: Jacket from JP Ryan, Skirt, Apron, KerchchiefIMG_9879IMG_9902

Dress to match my Irregular Choice shoes – Simplicity 1427from 1955IMG_1161

Spencer from stash scraps – Laughing Moon #129

Hat by Shocking Bad HatsIMG_2430

Midnight blue “witch” dress with spiderweb and bat lace overlay. Pattern mashup. IMG_1344IMG_1282

Pink & Red Christmas dress with vintage trim. Made from a vintage pattern mashup.IMG_2481IMG_2543

Edwardian Corset Cover from Truly Victorian finally completedIMG_9561

Costume College Bargain Basement dress from Vintage Mail Order patternIMG_8426

Wax Cotton Maxidress – Simplicity 9562 from 1981IMG_9468

I also knit this dirty hippie hat!IMG_1446

It’s 2019! How did I do on my 2018 sewing goals?

Happy New Year!

New Year’s is not my favorite holiday exactly, but I do like laying around with the hubs and dogs and thinking about what transpired and what lies ahead.

I made a big post about my sewing goals for 2018 so I thought before I post about my goals for 2019 I should see how I actually ended up doing.

Generally speaking, I feel like 2018 was not a particularly productive year for sewing. Everything seemed rushed and last minute. I had a lot of real life interruptions, the biggest being my major house renovation finally beginning, so it’s not surprising that sewing took a back seat.

Anyway.

Here are my 2018 goals and what I managed to do with them.

Late 1860s Ball Gown and Day Bodice — I still don’t have a hoop so nothing happened on this one. My next step is to try to make the elliptical hoop from the Laughing Moon pattern. I feel like I can’t let this dress / era beat me but man, it’s been annoying so far.

Early Bustle Era Day Dress — Nope

18th Century Riding Habit — I did not make this either but I did manage to make my first 18th century outfit.

More Regency —  I made one new dress and a spencer

1910s Ball / Evening Gown — I did the mockup but stalled out on actually making the gown. I couldn’t figure out exactly how I wanted it to look. I ended up making a guimpe and (sort of) fixing the hem on my existing 1910 skirt. I need to revisit this era.

Figure out how to make myself a pair of jeans — Nope

Actually typing that out bums me out a bit that I didn’t manage more. Honestly, 2018 was a heavily mixed year for me so it’s not surprising that the mix is reflected here.

Fabric Fear Overcome! aka The Tana Lawn Robe

Most people I know who sew or craft have some variation of fabric fear — the dread of messing up some rare, expensive, precious, irreplaceable fabric or craft material — either by making a mistake when working with it, or by making it into something substandard or dumb. This fear often contributes to stash accumulation as we add but refuse to actually sew the unicorn fabric.

I have my own herd of fabric unicorns and many of those take the form of Liberty Tana Lawn. Most of my Tana Lawn was given to me by my husband and because of this, it’s some of the most precious (and expensive) fabric I own. But recently, I conquered my fears and actually cut and sewed some of it! I also happen to be pleased with the result.

I’ve made Simplicity 8510 from 1969 twice before. (Previous versions here and here) I really love this robe in flannel but it’s useless in Atlanta heat. I had a fair quantity of the Mauvey print in Tana Lawn. Since I knew that I liked this pattern, and it turned out well, I decided a Liberty lawn version would be wonderful and luscious for summer and easy to pack for travel.

It was very scary making those cuts and actually, I found the lawn a little tougher to sew than expected due to its light hand. I definitely had a bit of learning curve with it so I am glad I wasn’t attempting something that wasn’t guaranteed success. Having already blogged about this pattern, there’s not much else to really cover so here’s the final product!

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Oh, well I lied. There is one construction thing to cover. I used much smaller buttons than the pattern called for so I also used many more of them. I think the smaller buttons messed up my buttonhole placement. The buttonholes are too far from the edge in my opinion. I also sort of remember not liking that the last time I made this robe so now there is a note on the pattern to disregard the placement. Other than that, I’m thrilled with this. It’s such a lovely garment that I’d consider making another one. I also have a nice sized piece of the Mauvey left that could possibly be used for a blouse test run.

I put this robe on as soon as it was complete and I’ve been wearing it so much I’ve already pulled some of the stitches out of the pocket edge — whoops. I even tried to get this guy to love the robe but it probably isn’t as snuggly as the flannel version. Oh well!

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Secret Cinema and Sewing Experiments

On my latest trip to London I attended my first Secret Cinema, an immersive film experience. While it isn’t so secret anymore (they used to not tell you the movie until you arrived), it’s still a very fun, very detailed evening out. Essentially Secret Cinema creates an environment based on a film, gives its attendees “characters” and provides a sort of LARP lite immersion before you watch the event’s film. When I found out they would be screening Blade Runner, well, I was there.

I received my character brief and set to figuring out what exactly it meant and what I should wear.

 

Upon reading more about the Job Title: Professional Friend, it became clear to me that I was a “basic pleasure model” similar to the replicant Pris. So what would an overweight, middle aged sexbot wear, I wondered?

Originally, I was going to wear my black lace fetish dress but then I thought, “Why aren’t I making a new outfit like I do for every event? Don’t be cheap and lazy!” So I set out to figure something that would be kind of spacey and future but still wearable by me.

I decided to experiment and try something I’d never done, sew with scuba. I really stay away from unusual fabrics but my idea seemed simple enough and I had a backup plan (the fetish dress). I went out looking at my retail options but ultimately found my fabric online from Fashion Fabrics Club. I found a neoprene that is black on one side and white on the other. So I decided to do a kind of 60s space take by sewing a color blocked mini dress.

I chose the trusty New Look 6889 as my pattern. It has the lines I needed and it is very fast and easy. I read up on sewing scuba / neoprene, which seemed pretty straightforward and similar to sewing most knits (use a new ball point needle). What I did not realize is that scuba fabric and neoprene, while similar in look, are not the same. Scuba is a polyester double knit fashion fabric. Neoprene has a foam core between the layers of double knit. The fabric I bought had a very thin core but it was there. That core also can make neoprene more hot to wear.

The neoprene was very easy to sew but not forgiving. It shows stitch marks but they do basically come out. Like all knits you need to make sure that you don’t stretch while you sew. I was also concerned the neoprene might snag on my feed dogs but I didn’t have an issue.

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The dress on top of other things that hang out on my dress form.

Originally I was going to leave all my edges raw but I am bad at cutting a straight line so I turned everything over and did a narrow hem. I also originally planned on making the dress more like a checkerboard so the back was the reverse of the front. I cut out my pieces incorrectly so the left side was black and the right side was white — not what I intended but it worked just fine.

To accessorize, I purchased a pink holographic harness from Apatico. I got a ton of compliments on the harness at the event and one of the immersion actors even tried to barter it off me. I turned her down.

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Zhora and her raincoat

As part of the immersion we were are told repeatedly to bring umbrellas, raincoats and to wear flat shoes due to “LA’s persistent acid rain”. This is because they actually made it rain, repeatedly, inside the immersion. I really wanted a clear raincoat like Zhora’s but I couldn’t find one in my size. I figured I’d try to make that too.

Not really knowing what I was getting myself into, I decided to make a cape to avoid setting sleeves made out of vinyl. I already had a teflon presser foot. I bought heavy duty needles and set to work.

I was shocked how easy it was to sew the vinyl together. It did not get torn up by the feed dogs. I did have to be a little careful that the vinyl did not stick to the metal plate though. It started off really great! Then I started trying to topstitch my seams and it started going wrong. I put it on. The cape flared out in a really weird way. It could have been a cool effect but I wasn’t buying it. Between the topstitch issues, the weird fit and the fact that I was trying to do this at the 11th hour, I gave up. I bought a super cute white vinyl raincoat on Amazon (it’s in the 1st photo on the dress form) instead.

IMG_8983As it turned out, London had some freaky weather while I was visiting. The day of Secret Cinema it was almost 80 degrees! Londoners were dying and it definitely was not a day for a vinyl raincoat. I was both glad I didn’t suffer through trying to make the clear one and annoyed that it was too hot to wear my white one. One of my friends was cast as a private detective and bought a super cute trench coat to wear. It was too hot for that as well.

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I bought a light up clear umbrella when I arrived on the site and boy did I need it. They were not kidding about the acid rain! It “rained” about every 15 minutes and it was not a light sprinkling. There were food stalls surrounding the rainy area and you could eat noodles barely shaded from the rain just like Deckard did in the film. A couple of times I was caught without my umbrella up and my neoprene dress turned out to be the right choice because rather than being soaked the rain just rolled off! We also had drinks in The Snake Pit after being let in the backdoor by Zhora herself.

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I had a great time during my trip to 2019 Los Angeles. That’s next year! Wow.

Oscar Party dress, or I finally managed to sew a thing!

My first post of 2018 was an ambitious list of my sewing hopes for this year. So what did I not do at all in January and February? Yep, no sewing at all.

I finally was able to get back behind the machine to make a formal dress for an Oscar Party.

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I was very excited to give Simplicity 2506 from 1958 a spin. It was a good score to find this pattern in a 24 1/2 (45 bust). That’s actually a size too big for me but I made the dress with no alterations. This turned out to be a mistake as it was too big in the shoulders and at the neckline. I can make a fast and dirty fix on the dress I already made. I should take a wedge out of the center front and redraft that piece before I make this again.

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Originally I was going to make this dress in a sort of tiki inspired fabric of tan tropical leaves and flowers on a black ground. I misread the pattern however and after I had cut several pieces I realized I was at least a yard short of fabric. Since that fabric was essentially free, this error turned out to only be extremely annoying versus tragic or expensive. I didn’t have anything appropriate in my stash with enough yardage so I went out the day before the Oscars to try to find something else.

I, like most people, was totally thrilled by Black Panther. After watching, I immediately put a vintage dress out of African wax cotton on my sewing list so I’d have something “Wakandan” for DragonCon. I was striking out with Oscar dress fabric but the shop I was at has a wide selection of wax cottons. I immediately fell in love with this one. I love all the colors and the almost tech or cellular look to it. I also didn’t realize that African wax cotton prints come in set yardages. So I was a little worried about making that work with my big skirt pieces but bought a little extra it turned out fine. I was a little worried with how stiff the wax cotton was but I figured it had to soften up with washing. It softened up and had an almost brushed texture after a trip in the washing machine. It was a dream to work with and very easy to sew.

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I finished the dress at 7:30pm the night of the party. The red carpet started at 7pm so by the time I got dressed and ready I made a very late entrance. But, I did finish the dress, I did make it to the party and in addition to looking fab, I was super comfortable. I also had pocket since I put one in! I accessorized with an earring necklace combo from Dames a la Mode. While you can’t see them I’m wearing very cute blue suede heels I just rediscovered after several years being lost under my bed. This dress would look even more period with a small crinoline underneath. I actually have the perfect one, but in my rush to get the party I totally forgot about wearing it.

While I now I have the perfect gown for next year’s Oscars (I’m sure Black Panther will win something — costume design seems obvious), I’m still planning to make another more casual dress as a Black Panther homage. I’d like to use a print that is a little more traditional. Also, African wax cotton was a dream to work with and affordable so I’m completely down with sewing it again and often.